BERRYVILLE, ARK. – A turn of the doorknob at Stubbs Grocery takes visitors into the store, but also, into the past.
Between coolers with cold pop, shelves stocked with candy and chips, and a case of deli meat ready for sandwiches that smack of a simpler time, are two brothers. David and Steve Stubbs stand ready to serve six days a week — just as their family has been doing since the store opened nearly 70 years ago.
“Kind of the whole family owns it, but me and Steve run it,” says David from next to the register. It’s a place that’s shown him much about the town, both through the passage of time and people through its door.
The year was 1953 when their father and uncle opened up shop in the tiny, square white building that once was a filling station.
Not long after the elder Stubbs took it over, the uncle in the duo decided he didn’t like the grocery business. “So Mom helped (Dad),” says David of his parents, who ran the longtime business together for many years.
The Stubbs never sold gasoline — the previous owner reportedly ripped out the pumps, in fact, when he was repeatedly awoken at night by customers — but they did have a lot of other wares to draw neighbors in a time when corner stores offered more than just grab-and-go items.
“They sold every kind of grocery back then. They had all of these shelves filled with groceries,” says David, pointing to a shelf that once contained cereal. “Dad used to do ground beef, steak and roast.”
“I think this building probably dates to the ’30s,” says David. “It made it through the 1942 tornado that came through Berryville. We’ve seen a photo of it. It had some damage but it was still standing.”
Even though a vintage calendar behind the cash register says it’s the 1950s, much has changed with time. Instead of groceries, the store’s wooden shelves are filled with snacks; the likes of candy bars, chips and Cherry Mash. During the holiday season, they have locally famed Christmas sweets that have made the stop a destination. Sports memorabilia throughout the tiny square store, too, adds personality and points of conversation.
Another element that has remained the same for many years are the aforementioned sandwiches, which began in the 1970s and grew out of offering lunch meat by the pound.
There are the typical options, and toppings are minimal — pretty much mustard and mayonnaise, in addition to whatever combo of meat and cheese is chosen — but they have long kept customers coming back. A single bologna option will run folks $2, while other ones may go as high as $4.25. And they’re known as Luther Burgers, as signs outside proclaim, which is in honor of the store’s founder and the brothers’ father.
Steve, who typically serves as sandwich maker while David runs the register, says that on some days – typically weekdays – they may sell between 100 and 150 sandwiches.
On some of those days, one of their customers is Brock Smith. Now in his 30s, Smith has been coming to the store on a regular basis for sandwiches since before he was a teenager.
“We used to live down the road and we’d come down to get us a sandwich,” he says, as he pays for his purchase at the counter. It’s a tradition he still continues: “On Saturdays, I usually go to the feed store and get a sandwich in-between feeding cows.”
Those faces are part of the reason why both Steve and David enjoy what they do.
“I like the people,” says Steve, after making a sandwich and folding down the plastic flap on the bag around it and handing it over. “People are a big part of it.”
Read the original story, published January 31, on Ozarks Alive.
Want to visit?
Stubbs Grocery is located at 602 N. Springfield St. in Berryville, which is in Carroll County, Arkansas, about 80 miles south of Springfield. The store is open Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 870-423-2261.