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Wright’s Market in Opelika, Ala., received the Community Excellence Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during its Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., in June.
As the sole grocery store among this year’s slate of winners, Wright’s Market became eligible for the award by being named one of the 100 Blue Ribbon Small Business Award winners, which recognizes the success and innovation of small companies and their contributions to economic growth and free enterprise.
The 100 winners then become eligible for the Community Excellence Award, which is voted on by the people that know the business the best – its customers, employees and neighbors. Voting took place from Feb. 17-March 4. Seven regional winners also are selected from the pool of 100 and are eligible for the Small Business of the Year.
“I am amazed at the support and the number of people who went online and voted,” Jimmy Wright, owner of Wright’s Market, told Progressive Grocer Independent, which honored Wright's earlier this year for its many community-focused initiatives, including offering a shuttle service to and from the store at no charge, providing after-game snacks for a baseball league for special needs children, supplying food to a local substance abuse rehabilitation home and working on the revitalization of two area neighborhoods that included improved housing and bringing small business back to the area.
The contest covered all industries across the country, with a staffing agency, an organic animal feed company, a financial firm and a security business among the top 100 along with Wright’s Market.
“I was honored to be named one of the top 100,” Wright added. But the Community Excellence award “was really special. I think it speaks well about small communities and the role of small business. The most encouraging thing is how many people come into the store and thank the employees.”
One manager compares it to winning the national football championship since the store is located in the football-loving South. This is the second time Wright’s Market was named a Blue Ribbon Small Business, but the first for winning the Community Excellence award.
What's especially significant about the award, Wright noted, is that the award can be shared by the extended Wright’s Market family. “It just shows how blessed I am for the people that work with me, and how thankful I am for the community and their support. Independent supermarkets are still out here; we’re still viable and we make a difference.”