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Parker’s generosity remembered as store changes hands

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Last Wednesday,
Parker Foods celebrated
55 years of service and
Al Parker announced his
retirement along with the
news that there would be
a sale of his family busi-
ness.
Parker Foods is one
of LaFayette’s longest
operating businesses and
according to Al Parker
that is due to the faithful
community that has al-
ways come back day after
day to shop at the grocery
store. But according to
the community it was the
spirit of the Parker Family
that has kept the store
alive.
“I always thought Al
Parker was so good to me
because we have been
great friends since we
were kids, but Al is so
generous to everyone. He
always made time to talk
with everyone who came
in the store even the kids.
Al has always been will-
ing to help me with all
my projects at church and
school,” said LaFayette
resident, Jane Elliott.
The history of the store
stretches back before
1964. It was Parker’s
grandfather Sim Parker,
his father Albert, Sr. and
his uncle Quinton that
purchased a meat market
on 1st St. from John Boyd
in 1948. It was origi-
nally called Parker’s Super years, and then in 1992,
Albert, Sr. retired. Al has
been in charge ever since.
There have been numer-
ous changes, from the
building itself, to the name
and to the supermarket
products, but one thing
has remained the same and
kept the store part of the
city. That was the Parker
family. Al Parker has not
only provided LaFay-
ette citizens with fresh
produce and meat, but he
has provided a tradition
for families to follow. One
customer stated “Shopping
at parkers was something
I did as a kid with my
mom. Now, here I am
with my kids running up
the aisles.” Generation
after generation has had
the chance to take part in
that small town personal
shopping experience that
Parker’s offers.
Not only has Al Parker
provided LaFayette with
groceries he has had a
long reaching arm of
support into many causes
around the city. Al Parker
has always been a gener-
ous sponsor of schools,
booster clubs and church-
es.
Sheriff Sid Lockhart
stated, “I would not be
surprised if Al Parker has
not given away a million
dollars over the years. So
many times I would go to
pay my bill and Al would
have wiped it clean or
slashed it considerably. He
is a good man.”
Paul Howard Pastor of
LaFayette Heights Baptist
church said “Al Parker is
LaFayette’s A-1 citizen.
During the 31 years I
have been the pastor of
LaFayette Heights, we
have never had a youth
event or fund-raiser where
Al has not gone above and
beyond to make sure our
youth succeeded and met
their goals. Most of the
time we don’t ask for help,
but when we go in to pay
our bill, Al has marked
it off significantly and at
times has completely writ-
ten off the charges. Al has
also headed up campaigns
to help people who have
lost homes to fires or
storms. He never wanted
any headlines, but I, for
one, believe he deserves
the biggest headline in this
issue of The LaFayette
Sun. We will miss seeing
him around town and in
the store, but we wish him
the very best in his retire-
ment.
Al Parker response
to what contributed the
stores success was, “The
loyalty of our customers
is the number one reason
for the longevity and suc-
cess,” Parker says. “I’m
often humbled, and it’s
one of the reasons that I
try to do so much for the
community, it’s to thank
them.”
When the decision
had been made to sell the
store and retire, Al said
he had one more thing
he had to do before he
could announce it. Last
Monday Al said he gave
Jimmy Cole a ride home
from work and sat with
him personally and told
him what was going on. “I
wanted him to hear from
me personally so I could assure him.” Jimmy
Cole has worked for
the Parker family for 47
years.
Al Parker told Robert
Renfroe “I don’t feel like
I am selling a store, I feel
like I am selling my life.
It is important that this
business continue on for
the people of LaFayette.” Al also stated that he
felt honored the Renfroe
family was buying his
store. He feels they are
a fine family and he is
leaving his legacy in
more than capable hands.
Judge Calvin Milford
said “When I was a small
child, a trip to town to
Parker’s IGA was like a
trip to another world. It
was the biggest place that
I had ever seen, and had
everything that I could
imagine. Mr. Albert
Parker was always there
to speak, call us by name,
and express his apprecia-
tion for our business.”
“When I came back
to LaFayette to live and
practice law in 1991,
Al had taken over the
business. He and I went
to school together and,
although he was a little
older, he had always
been my friend and we
resumed shopping there.
I also got to know what a
great community mem-
ber that Al and the folks
at Parkers were. My
kids loved going there to Trick or Treat and to
buy groceries. Al always
stopped and spoke, just
like his dad, and made us
feel welcome and appre-
ciated” added Milford.
Market.
In 1963, Albert, Sr. had
bigger dreams of being
able to offer LaFayette
more, so he built the cur-
rent store on the site of the
former Raine’s house. The
grand opening would ulti-
mately be delayed due to
construction issues. Al Jr.
at the age 4 got to cut the
grand opening ribbon on
Feb. 6, 1964 and the store
was up and running. It was
called Parker’s IGA.
Over the years there
have been several chang-
es. An addition was done
in 1973 to the front of
the store, then in 1980
another was done that
nearly doubled it’s size.
SuperValu bought out IGA
in the 70’s as well, and
the name was changed to
Parker’s SuperValu.
Albert, Sr. ran the store
by himself until 1982.
After Al graduated from
Auburn University he
returned home to help his
dad run the store. They
worked together for 10