September 19, 2014
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An early photo inside the J.H. Harveys Cash Store.​

This year, Harveys Supermarket celebrates 90 years in business-- a length of time that spans some of the most iconic decades and includes the most sweeping changes in the grocery business.

Around 1900, Iris Johnson Harvey and J.M. Harvey, despite knowing nothing about the grocery business, decided to convert a room in their home into a neighborhood grocery shop to supplement the family income and support their five children.

The business grew, and soon the family needed a larger facility. At this time J.M. Harvey quit his job as a railroad section foreman and he and his wife opened their first location in Tifton, Georgia. The store opening went so well that the couple opened four more cash stores in various sections of town, eventually consolidating them into one large “uptown” operation.

Through the family business the Harvey children; James, Joe, John, Mary and Della; were well-schooled by their parents success and took a keen learning in the Harveys founding principles of service, quality and value. In 1924, Joe (J.H.) Harvey left his profession in pharmacy and opened his own Harveys Cash Store in Nashville, Georgia and the Harveys Supermarket that we know today was born. J.H. Harvey and his wife, Ellie had two children, Joseph Harvey Jr. and Iris Harvey.

As the Great Depression swept through the country, Harveys Cash Stores struggled, but were able to maintain business. The store accommodated customers who were not in a position to travel to town by bringing groceries to them. These “rolling stores” accepted payment in the form of barter. However, as time progressed, J.H. Harvey was able to maintain his business while training his own son, Joe Jr., beginning at the age of 5. Additionally, Harvey built a loyal business relationship with H.E. Whaley.

In 1950, the company was incorporated as J.H. Harvey Company with J.H. Harvey as President, H.E. Whaley as Vice President and Joe Harvey, Jr. as Secretary with three locations in Nashville, Valdosta and Douglas, Georgia.

In the decades to follow, the chain grew along with the grocery business—adding equipment, transportation, machines, calculators, computers, regulations, and more. But with all the change, one thing remained the same -- the employees were, and still are, trained to be the best in the business and to be a part of the Harveys family.

In 1979, Ellie Harvey died and her daughter, Iris, assumed her role on the company’s board. A year later, Joe Harvey Sr. also passed away and left the company to his son, J.H. Harvey Jr. The children nurtured the Harveys business that their successful family had built for nearly 80 years and the chain grew to 45 locations.

Delhaize Group purchased the company in 2003, and Harveys continued to grow. In 2014, Delhaize Group sold all 58 Harveys locations to Bi-Lo Holdings. Bi-Lo Holdings continues to operate the stores as Harveys—a place that after 90 years, still maintains its founding principles of service, quality, and value.

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A scene from a Harveys Supermarket in 1956.

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