The Sooners Foods Corporation began in 1954 and has been a family-owned business ever since. It was started by James Ray Howe, who passed in October 2011, and is now owned by his children. Kemper and his three siblings have been wonderful stewards of the business since taking over. The Tishomingo location opened December 12, 1983 and was the first business in town to offer electronic scanners in the check-out lanes. I have been told that it was something that made a lot of people nervous but after they realized the accuracy that came with the technology, seemed to calm down and adjust to the upgrade. My how far we have come!
The Sulphur store burned to the ground in the summer of 1984 and six people were transferred to the new Tishomingo facility, including Cheryl Shackleford, who happened to be my manager while working there as one of my first jobs out of high school in 2012. Shackleford started as a checker at Sooner Foods and was a bit anxious when they asked her to manage the entire store in Tishomingo. Cheryl was dedicated to her work. The annual customer appreciation event in May is always a lot of fun, with the dunk tank, inflatables, hot dogs, and games. Every now and then Cheryl would rope in her husband, Johnny, to help with events or advertising. He once dressed as the ‘Jolly Green Giant’ to promote Green Giant vegetables! In years past, the group from Sooners would enter parades and throw loaves of bread to the crowd.
There seems to be a tradition of happy employees at Sooner Foods in Tishomingo. Many of the employees have been there for long periods of time. Cheryl was there for many years before retiring, and I know that Sean, Sue, Paula and a few others have been there since before I worked there briefly. Mike LaFevers, now-retired but occasionally fills-in, worked in the pharmacy for about 25 years. Sean Pratt said that it definitely feels like a family! The store currently has 34 employees.
The grocery store offers the obvious food and drink items, but now has beer and wine, a drive-through pharmacy, offers money orders, and cashes approved payroll checks. They have also introduced a rewards program for loyal customers, offer free delivery for those in a 10-mile radius, and will soon have a grocery pick-up system so that you can place an order and pick up what you need without having to do the shopping yourself!
Stop by and shop your local grocery store at 101 S. Byrd Street or call 580-371-2234 for more information!
Read next week for my 50th Member Spotlight featuring the Red Cross! Please remember that the first Women’s Biz Connection of 2019 will be on Tuesday, January 29th at noon. Please call or register online in advance to come and here from Tishomingo City Manager, Steve Kelly, and discuss what is going on with our local businesses and organizations!