Tandy’s sold, Black retires and embraces new ownership

709

Tandy’s IGA in Rising Sun and Aurora has been sold.

Last Thursday, February 1st, Rising Sun’s only complete grocery store came under new ownership.

Along with the purchase, owner Terry Black will begin his retirement.

Before he turned over the reigns, he wanted the community to know that he feels comfortable with the sale to Joe Jester, owner of the Brookville and Sunman IGA stores.

Black and co-owner with Doug Whitaker purchased Tandy’s in 1983.

“I’ve known Joe a long time and he puts his money where his mouth is,” says Black. “He’s committed to small towns.”

Jester came from a warehouse background before buying the Brookville store which is doing great, according to Black. He’s done the same with the Sunman store.

“I’m his biggest fan,” Black admits. “He’s going to put some money into the store. You won’t see much change next week but by summer you’ll some changes for the good.”

After 48 years with Tandy’s, Black’s final work day was Wednesday, January 31st. The Dillsboro native started working in the Aurora store in June 1970.

Brothers Peyton (Pete) and Joe Tandy opened the Aurora store in 1950. They have passed away. Joe in 2000 and Pete in 2003.

The Rising Sun store opened on September 12th, 1973. The store expanded with the addition of a 3,000 square feet deli. The store was widened 18 feet out and 18 feet over which doubled the size from 7,000 to 14,000 square feet.

In a brief meeting with the new owner, Jester said the emphasis will be on the perishable part of the business by stressing the meat department, fresh produce and deli.

“I was glad he wanted to keep the Tandy’s name,” Black adds. “He (Joe) said he was honored to buy the stores. He held Pete (Tandy) up high.”

Black, who recently turned 65, has enjoyed his years and working alongside Rick Fairfield who has been there since day one and Jeff McCardle, who has worked over 50 years between the two stores.

The back bone of the store has been Barb Christerson.

“It’s been really good to have her. She’s made my job and my life easier. She knows everything about the business,” admits an appreciative Black.

Word spread that Wednesday would be Terry’s last day, which brought hugs from three female customers, something he didn’t expect.

Terry says he’ll leave behind a photo of the original Tandy’s store. He points out a photo of yellow and white Ford belonging to Lucy Walton. He has a photo of his grandmother who operated the Hartford store from 1959 to 1969. The same Walton car is in a photo at his grandparent’s store.

“I guess I was a store brat. I don’t know if I was a big help but probably more in the way.”

In those days we used grease pencils to right the price on products. Now you get prices scanned off the tags on the shelf. “It’s little bit different than the way grandma did it.”

He admits to wanting find a part time job for three or four days a week, but not weekends. “I’ve worked every weekend since I was 16,” he said.

He plans to spend time with grandchildren watching little league and soccer. His first activity may be his granddaughters gymnastics competition in Atlanta this weekend.

Tandy’s has been the only full time grocery store for several years in Rising Sun. However, times have changed where there are convenient stores and other businesses that are into selling groceries. While that’s true, Terry is confident with the new owner’s emphasis on the meat, produce and deli will be something those other businesses can’t compete with.

Over the years there have been lots of school kids who have got their start working at Tandy’s and gone on to bigger and better things.

“It’s been neat seeing guys go on to make something of themselves,” says Black. Among them include: Todd Walton, Clayton Lamkin and Rusty Keith. “If there was a hall of fame for the store, Rusty and a lot of people would be in it.”

Black’s memories include Herb Strassell and Dale Bowman.

“When Dale started, I was a 20 year old and thought it was not going to be fun to work with him,” Black said. “He (turned out to be) the most fun person and great to be around.” Bowman operated the Mug and Jug Restaurant and came to work when Pete asked. He and Herb were unique guys, Black remembers.

The big highlight over the years was when Lynn Graves hit the lottery. “That was a wild and crazy week.”

Memorye Hedgedus won an instant ticket and went on Hoosier Lottery Show where she won $1 million.

“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been lot of fun and met a lot of people but it’s time to move on. It’s really easy and really hard. I’m looking forward to (retirement) and then I’m not. It’s been a range of emotions.”

“I want to thank all the customers and former employees who’ve made it possible for so many years. You really appreciate when somebody walks through your doors. It’s like a compliment these days. They have other places to go but come here for one reason or another.

Black says the store employees around 25 with a lot of part timers.

“Joe is a quality person and I feel so lucky to know we’re leaving (the store) in good hands,”

The new store manager will be Phil Hustlar who worked at the Dillsboro IGA for over 20 years.

-Tim Hillman