Jordan and Megan Branstetter’s reasoning for buying a small family-owned grocery store was influenced by more than just one number-crunching business decision.
“We love Perry,” said Jordan Bransetter of the Ralls County community of just under 700, but swells a bit in the summer as patrons of Mark Twain Lake visit primarily between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Branstetter’s have purchased Hickman’s IGA from the Hickman family and will keep the store and its name alive. The Late Bob and Jewell Hickman entered the grocery business in 1959 when they bought Richards IGA, then located in the buildings along Perry’s Main Street. In 1968, they built a larger, more-modern supermarket about three blocks to the east and a block north of Main.
Brothers Steve, Kevin and Jim Hickman still retained ownership of the store, although their other four brothers had been involved in various ways over the years. They had been looking for a buyer for a couple of years, but they see the Branstetter’s as the right people to serve the community.
“It’s a good fit,” Kevin Hickman said.
Scott Leake of Prestige Realty helped broker the deal. He said other offers had been coming in as of late, but the Hickman’s stayed with their gut feeling to turn the keys over to the Branstetter’s.
Jordan Branstetter has been in the wholesale foods business for the last few years and Megan worked in banking. Now they will put their heart and soul into serving Perry and the surrounding communities.
The Hickman’s will be around to lend the Branstetter’s a helping hand and some advice for the first few weeks. They are taking over the store on June 28, the week before July 4, which is the store’s busiest time of the year as the campers heading to the campgrounds around Mark Twain Lake head to Hickman’s for supplies.
“They’re jumping right into the fire,” Steve Hickman said.
The Hickman’s had six grocery stores around Northeast Missouri at one time. The sold four of them to Quincy’s Niemann Foods, which owns the County Market grocery chain. They still owned a store in Paris until 2014. The Perry IGA was the family’s first, and it is their last.
Leake grew up in Perry and was in the same class as another of the Hickman brothers, Tim. He sees the IGA as a needed anchor for the community. Like many other small town in America, Perry has recently added a Dollar General, which has turned into the 21st Century version of the five and dime.
“Hickman’s has done so much for Perry over the years,” Leake said. “Sponsoring ball teams and events means a lot to people. That doesn’t happen without stores like Hickman’s.”
Jordan Branstetter said he planned to continue that practice as it was as important as keeping the store’s original name.
“Hickman’s has always had a good name,” he said.
The Branstetter’s are moving to Perry from Jackson, Mo. They have family in Perry and have spent a lot of time in Perry over the years.
“We’re looking forward to being Mark Twain Tigers,” Jordan said. Perry, Center and New London are the three largest communities in Ralls County that feed into Mark Twain High School, located in Center.
Steve and Kevin Hickman said they would remain in Perry during their retirement and look forward to being customers after decades of serving the community.
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