By Robin Fornoff
It isn’t the bargain prices or that owners and brothers Lindy and Randy Stansell know most of their customers by first and last name.
What it is, according to customer Dona Dickinson, is a sad loss of a huge chunk of Clovis history.
“It makes me sad,” said Dickinson. “I didn’t think they would do it.”
Stansell’s Thriftway at Main and Manana is closing its doors Sept. 20. The brothers, Lindy 66, and Randy, 68, are calling it quits after 46 years, heading into retirement. Neither has any plans to open another store or any particular plans about retiring.
“I guess I’ll find something to do,” said Randy.
“Maybe just take it easy,” said Lindy, “and spend my time helping other people do stuff.”
On Wednesday, both men took turns cutting and trimming behind what many believe has come to be Stansell’s trademark specialty — the meat counter.
“I really don’t know how it happened,” said Lindy. “It just did. We just let it age a little and cut it right.”
Perhaps it did because of the personal service, said Dickinson, a sentiment shared repeatedly from other customers milling about the store.
“You could get the meat cut the way you wanted it, not just settle for some cut wrapped and packaged like the big stores,” said Dickinson, 94. “And if they didn’t have something you wanted, they would order it special for you.”
The Stansells are part of a long family history of grocers who owned and ran grocery stores in Clovis and West Texas. The store was originally purchased by their uncle, O.C. “Pete” Stansell in 1968. It was known as Jameson’s. O.C. changed the name to Stansell’s Highland Super Market and offered bell peppers at 5 cents and hamburger at 3 pounds for 99 cents, according to newspaper archives.
The name was changed to Stansell’s Thriftway in 1972, according to Lindy.
Lindy said O.C. actually started a Lowe’s store with the Renfro brothers in Littlefield, Texas, and owned other stores, including an S&S in Lubbock.
O.C. died in 1989 and the brothers — already working the stores for more than 20 years each — decided to purchase it and continue a tradition of personal customer service that O.C. drilled into them daily.
“We do know most of our customers by name,” said Lindy. “Not like the big stores. They’re just in it for the dollar. We try to feed the people right, not just make money off them.”
The closing hits hard for some.
Ressie Morrison, 84, said she hasn’t shopped anywhere else for years. As a youngster, one of her sons couldn’t tolerate wheat and the brothers kept a special hybrid flour on the shelves just Morrison.
On Wednesday, Lindy helped Morrison and others load brown paper sacks stuffed with meat tightly wrapped in white butcher paper into their cars outside the store.
“I am devastated,” Morrison said. “It’s handy for me and I like the people. I really don’t know where I’ll go to shop now.”
Dickinson said she’ll genuinely mourned the closing.
“It was home-owned,” said Dickinson. “Everybody loved that they knew the people. The other places, things got so big, you don’t know anybody.
“You know I was born in Clovis,” said Dickinson. “I was born on Main Street. It’s a very sad thing to see. But I guess things grow and you have to move on. That’s the way it should be.”