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Our History

Ragland Bros. Retail Cos. traces its beginnings back to 1922 with Ragland-Potter Wholesale Grocery and then to June of 1935 when four brothers, Will, Butler , Harvey, and Tom Ragland, purchased the Ragland-Potter grocery warehouse in Knoxville , Tennessee . This original purchase was financed by Mr. C. B. Ragland, Will Ragland's father-in-law, who operated a wholesale grocery business in Nashville , Tennessee . Over time, up to 18 locations were opened for business over an area from Murphy, NC to Opelika , AL . Ragland Bros. Co., as it was then known, was the first wholesale supplier in the Southeast to deliver the general merchandise and groceries on trucks, and it was the first to utilize computers for ordering and invoicing. “General Stores” were supplied with metal roofing, bulk barrel flour and beans, nails, and many other items needed for households in that day.

Because of the demand for flour in the late 1930's, Ragland Bros. Co. joined with the Chattanooga Bakery family, better known for baking Moon Pies, to buy the Mountain City Mill Co. in downtown Chattanooga. A barge operation, named the Tennessee Valley Barge Line, was established by the Ragland family with the purchase of approximately 30 barges to carry wheat to the mill for processing and shipment.

During World War II, several warehouses were closed because of the need for men who were called upon to fight in the war. Business was consolidated to the Chattanooga and Knoxville , Tn. and the Huntsville , Opelika , and Birmingham , Al. warehouses at that time. In 1966, under the leadership of Will and Butler Ragland, a 175,000 square foot warehouse was opened in Huntsville to merge the wholesale operations of Chattanooga and Huntsville . Due to improved road transportation and trucking capabilities, all of Alabama , North Carolina , Georgia , and Tennessee could be serviced out of the Huntsville facility. The Birmingham warehouse was sold to Harvey Ragland and Opelika was later merged into the Huntsville facility which continued to operate until 1985 when the wholesale operations was sold to Malone & Hyde, Inc., a large national grocery wholesaler who relocated the assets. An inventive single unit pick wholesale operation designed for convenience stores created by Ed Ragland was also sold at that time to C. B. Ragland Co.

In 1952, “Mr. Will” diversified into the retail side of the grocery business with the purchase of 6 J.W. Kirk Stores in Chattanooga . The stores were renamed M&J Supermarkets, named after Ragland Bros. Co. employees Millis Mulkey and J. H. Jackson who operated the newly formed retail division. The company's retail locations expanded in Georgia and Alabama . In the early 1970's, M&J was one of the first in the southeast to introduce scanning to its customers. Over time, the stores in Tennessee and Georgia were sold to other Ragland Bros. Co. retail customers, while the company's Alabama locations continued to expand into many small and medium sized markets. In 1979, the first M&J Supermarket was converted to a newly remodeled and expanded Lucky's Supermarket. In October of 1996, several Piggly Wiggly supermarkets in Alabama and Tennessee were purchased to operate along with the Lucky's operations. The originator of the Piggly Wiggly franchise, Clarence Saunders, created the first self-service supermarket and the shopping cart. In August 2010, the company added a new banner, Stop To Save Supermarkets, a cost plus 10% concept.

Until their deaths in 1981 and 1991 respectively, Butler and “Mr. Will” remained active with Ragland Bros. Co. They, together with their sons Charles (deceased), and Ed and Bill (deceased), built a commitment to integrity and loyalty to their employees, suppliers, and customers, which laid the solid foundation for the company to grow and prosper for many years to come.

In 1984, Bill's son, Ward joined the company following graduation from college. Today, as president, he remains committed to the principles and foundations laid by prior generations. In this, he is joined by Darrell Bourne, treasurer of the privately held company, as the principal shareholders. Ragland Bros. Retail Cos., Inc. headquarters remain in Huntsville , Alabama .