Every spring is an anniversary for Greg and Kathy McDade. May 15 to be exact, but it’s not the flowers and roses kind. Kathy says, “We’ve been married to each other for 28 years, but we’ve been married to our neighbors for 17.”

It’s a match made in heaven for the customers they serve as McDade’s Markets. The flagship store was purchased by the McDade’s at Maywood Mart in 1996. The Fondren store came in 2004. Their stores now number five, including the old Jitney 14 in Belhaven, a store at Westland Plaza and the most recent in Yazoo City.

Despite the economic bumps in the road over the last several years, the McDade’s and their markets thrive, she says, because of their people. “I say all the time, it doesn’t matter what business  you’re in, you’re only as good as your help,” she tells us. “We have a lot of good people that work for us.”

Those people include Fondren store manager Eddie Prosser, who has been with the company for nearly eight years. “Eddie is so personable and customer oriented and takes everything to heart,” McDade tells us. “We are blessed with people who act as if it’s their company. It’s making sure customers find what they want and going the extra mile.”

It’s the quality the late Henry Holman loved about the McDade’s and their plans for the Fondren store. Before McDade’s, it was Winn-Dixie, but before that, Jitney Jungle, owned by the McCarty-Holman company. “He was the most excited,” McDade says. “He was elated that a family-owned business was taking that store back. That’s the reception we got from everyone.” McDade says shoppers were happy with the new life they would bring to the neighborhood. “Customers would thank us for not letting the (Woodland Hills Shopping Center) go dark.”

Like Maywood Mart, Fondren’s McDade’s store is in a historical shopping center. And the McDade’s saw the potential the neighborhood held. “We had met people like Mike Peters and Jeff Good who had a vision for Fondren, what it was then and what it could be, going down the road,” she explains. “All of our stores are in areas that have been rocks in their respective neighborhoods. So we knew we were buying a piece of history.”

McDade says it was a gamble, but it has paid off. In late 2011, the McDade’s completed a store remodel in Fondren. “We took eight years before doing a remodel and just tried to improve the product mix to reflect neighborhood needs,” she explains. “It took time, but we took a look and said we needed a total re-do.”

Produce and floral were moved to the left, a natural grocery store flow. A new fresh seafood and butcher shop were put into place and the bakery, deli and hot foods areas were expanded. The store’s decor was updated and the result was a fresh look. McDade says it’s the way it has always needed to be.

No matter the look and feel, McDade says one thing has remained constant. “As people’s budgets tighten, they are always looking for value,” she explains.

The neighborly union between McDade’s and Fondren remains strong and the family only sees growth from here. “It’s like getting married. You renew your vows after a while to say ‘We’re committed, we’re here and we’re not going anywhere.’”

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