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Seales retires from grocery in Maplesville

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Seales Grocery in Maplesville will look just a little different to customers now.

The shelves and displays may largely be the same, but the welcoming face of former owner William Earl Seales will no longer be seen.

After 35 years of working just about every day, Seales has decided to retire due to his age and some health-related reasons.

He said he had no idea when he bought the place in 1983 that he would have been in business for so long.

“Business kept getting better and better,” Seales said.

Scott Holden of Holden Energy has purchased the store.

“He supplies my gas and owns the pumps and the tanks and that’s how we connected,” Seales said.

When Seales told Holden he was looking to retire, Holden told him that the company buys stores.

“Ours is the 15th store he owns, and I want him to succeed, I really do,” Seales said.

He said he waited until he found someone he thought would be good for the store as well as the community before selling.

When Seales first bought the store, it was very different than it is today. Then, it was a grocery store with produce, meats and other food essentials. Today, the store has switched to a convenience store model.

Seales said the switch came as competition for the grocery store opened in town. The switch proved to be a profitable one.

The look of the store remained largely unchanged.

Seales’s wife Nancy said many people traveling through would stop at the store and comment how they like the old store look.

Their daughter Patty Crocker said some changes had been made over the years to comply with updates in regulations.

“He never really wanted to change anything,” Crocker said.

When major changes were needed, they were made when William Seales was out of town.

“So, I didn’t have to fool with it,” Seales said. “… It was what we needed.”

He said after all these years working at the store Crocker can run it better than he can.

“I think we have been pretty successful in 35 years,” Seales said.

The people are what he has enjoyed most about his successful tenure.

“I love our local people,” William Seales said. “I was born and raised here,

He said it is his customers were who made him successful.

“I want to thank all of my customers that I had over the years,” William Seales said. “I love them all.”

Crocker said Seales had excuses for not retiring sooner.

“(He said) ‘when I can see to sell my first beer, then I’ll retire,’” Crocker said. “Then Maplesville went wet, he sold his first beer, then he said, ‘when I turn 70,’ then 70 come and gone.”

William Seales said he had always enjoyed selling things and this is why buying the store appealed to him.

“I’ve always been a seller. I sold peanuts on the streets of Maplesville when I was 12 years old. William Seales said. “My mother would pick up and we’d pack them and take them to town and sell them for 10 cents a bag (in 1961).”

Many of his customers bought peanuts while waiting for their cotton to be processed at the town’s cotton gin.

Seales’s work ethic came from watching his father and then having to support himself after his parents died. One died when he was 14 and the other when he was 15.

A welder by trade, Seales had been working on constructing oil drilling rigs in Oklahoma when he heard that the store was for sale. Seales purchased in on Oct. 5 1983, only six months after marrying Nancy and moved back to his hometown.

Although Seales is retiring, it does not mean he is totally slowing down. He will still be planting an extensive garden and plans on supplying some produce for the store, including his legendary tomatoes.

Retirement plans also include traveling to Alaska, continuing to do woodworking projects and enjoying his classic car collection.