Serving family and friends: Maplesville Supermarket center of small town memories
Published 1:26 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Progress 2022: Centers of Community. Copies are available at The Clanton Advertiser, 1109 Seventh Street, Clanton, Alabama 35046.
STORY BY ELISABETH ALTAMIRANO-SMITH
PHOTOS BY KEITH MCCOY
Small town experiences are a precious jewel slowly fading away in time. Factors like new construction and development and a rise in population can quickly change a community. Maplesville still has every sweetness of a close-knit community and can easily remind visitors of “Mayberry” from “The Andy Griffith Show.” One of Maplesville’s main small town jewels is the Maplesville Supermarket. The building was built in the 1980s and purchased by Hershel Edwards and Wayne Cleckler in 1995. Since then, the grocery has given locals a place to shop, work and even find love.
Office Manager Janette Smith has worked at Maplesville Supermarket since 2000, and began when her children were in the first and seventh grade.
“I came in one day and asked if they were hiring,” Smith said. “They asked me if I could run a cash register. They had someone that didn’t show up that day, and I started right then. Since that day both of my kids have worked here, and I even met my husband James Earl here.”
James Earl and Janette’s love story is not unique to the grocery store.
Prior to Maplesville Supermarket opening, both Hershel Edwards and Wayne Cleckler had previous work experience at grocery stores. Hershel’s wife, Sybil, worked in office management for Maplesville Supermarket and recommended her sister, Bonnie to work in managing produce for the store. When Wayne, (who worked as the grocery’s butcher) met Bonnie it was “a match made in Heaven” and the couple married in 2000.
Since the store’s initial opening, Hershel passed away in 2015. Wayne Cleckler purchased the entirety of the store, and it continues to be family-owned and operated. Wayne’s son-in-law Joseph Howell and brother O’Neil Cleckler came in to help run the family business, and Janette Smith moved to office management.
“I love that (our grocery store) has a small-town feel,” Smith said. “It is one of the only places in Maplesville that high school and college kids can get work experience. We know all of the customers. They are my favorite part. We know their name and what they are going to buy when they come into the store. Everyone is like family. If someone leaves, we are happy for them that they are moving on to their dreams, but we are sad to see them go.”
One of Maplesville Supermarket’s unique specialty services is their meat department, where everything is freshly cut on location. The supermarket also serves as the lifeline for the community’s food source.
“We are the only grocery store in Maplesville, so when the local eateries like Heard’s BBQ or the bakery need ingredients they can get them here,” said Smith. “If they need something special that we don’t usually carry, we can order it for them. The local school concession’s ingredients come from our store as well. ”
Besides providing ingredients, the grocery also gives back and acts as a family member to the
community. Maplesville Grocery has feed the local football team at various times. Last football season, the local cheerleaders decorated the storefront windows to show support for the Maplesville Red Devils going to the playoffs.
“It is a ‘Ma & Pa Country Store’ that allows us to know our customers,” Howell said. “They are great people. We are a big family here.”
The store recently honored Bonnie Cleckler on 20 years of working in the grocery’s produce department and her retirement.