It was with a heavy heart that South Frankfort bid farewell to Bryant’s Pic-Pac.
The grocery store had been a lifeline for many in the community for decades. And Saturday the community got a chance to show its appreciation for the years of service.
“They’re going to be missed,” said Ed Powe, one of the organizers of the farewell event. “To many people of South Frankfort, it was more than a grocery store. It was a lifeline, and we don’t know how it’s going to be replaced.”
Dozens of people attended Saturday’s “Thank you and Farewell” event at Dolly Graham Park to show their appreciation for Pic-Pac. Frankfort Focus on Race Relations (FORR) hosted the event and provided food, music and entertainment for attendees.
Danny Bryant, owner of Pic-Pac, was the guest of honor.
“It’s just awesome for me and my employees to have this kind of support,” he said. “It’s special. I hope someone comes in and opens another (grocery store). That’s my hope, but whether it happens is hard to say.”
Bryant officially closed the doors of Pic-Pac on July 20 after about 44 years with the business. It opened in 1953 as an A&P and served the surrounding community of South Frankfort that consists of low-income, fixed-income, elderly and disabled families and individuals ever since.
Powe, president of FORR, said Pic-Pac was not only a lifeline for the community, but it also embodied a model of a racially inclusive business through its employees and clientele.
“They achieved a diversified workforce because they were willing with everyone,” Powe said. “They served everyone and they emphasized equality.”
Powe said that FORR would have not come to be without the charity of Bryant’s Pic-Pac in providing food for the organization’s first “truth and resolution luncheon.”
The Pic-Pac had announced it was closing in spring of 2018, but an outpouring of community support bought some time. However, the business inevitably decided to close its doors with Bryant saying “the customer base just isn’t there.”
“It’s been 44 years,” Bryant said. “In the retail business, 44 years is a long time. I’m just going to take it easy for a while and look at some options after that.”
With the closing of Pic-Pac, a void was left in a community where many don't have the means to travel to larger grocers to obtain sustenance. The Frankfort City Commission has broached the subject of recruiting a replacement for Pic-Pac. But what that would look like, whether it is a co-op or a mini-grocery store or something else, is yet to be seen.
Powe said he would like to see a committee formed to gather input from the community about its needs and desires.
“We need to look at every avenue,” he said. “We need the community involved to find out what’s best for them.”