Bovina Grocery is hub of community

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bovina Grocery is the hub of the Bovina community east of Vicksburg. It provides gas and groceries to the community as a 24/7 one-stop shop.

“We sell everything a grocery store has, frozen food, hamburger, steak,” manager Charlene Abram said. “Everything you can get at Wal-Mart you can basically get at Bovina Grocery.”

Allen and Linda Kitchens have owned Bovina Grocery since the early 1970s.

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“The store has been our life for over 40 years,” Allen Kitchens said. “It’s meant the world to me. That was my dream to open a business, and I think I’ve accomplished that goal to be successful and to help wherever we can in the community.”

Fifteen years ago they moved from the south side of exit 11 off of I-20 to a larger location north of exit 11 at 415 Tiffentown Road. They started out as a Texaco, but have since changed to Exxon.

Abram has recently started ordering the stock herself and doesn’t like to buy in bulk, but she will make sure she gets the products the customers request. She takes customer service seriously and tries to make sure everyone is greeted when they walk in the door.

“Sometimes that makes a difference in somebody’s day,” Abram said.

She has secret shoppers come to the store and if her employees score lower than 100 percent they can lose their job. She also doesn’t tolerate tardiness.

“I look at it as Mr. Kitchens’ money is my money, and I just don’t want to throw it away,” Abram said.

Glenda Davis works for Tyson Foods Inc. and drives to Bovina often to pick up groceries.

“They got good customer service. They know how to treat the customers,” Davis said.

Regular customer Fred White said they treat all their customers right. He said the grocery store is the community.

“Without it, there wouldn’t be a community,” White said.

Abram said good prices and a variety of products are what have made the store successful. She likes to keep the store clean and orderly. They have a lot of regulars and a lot of visitors that stop whenever they are driving through.

“This store is the life of the community,” she said.

Some employees even know the customers orders by heart because they get the same thing everyday.

“I would miss it if it wasn’t here,” White said.

Without the grocery store, the Bovina community would have few places to congregate.

“This is the only store that’s convenient that’s in the area,” Davis said.

Abram is deeply connected to the store and the Kitchens family. She has worked for them since the late 1980s, and it has become her life. She spends a good portion of the day at the store, sometimes up to 14 hours.

She insists she prefers it that way saying she has freedom to come and go when she wants. The Kitchens accommodate her and consider her part of the family.

“I love this store,” Abram said. “This store is my life.”

Sometimes her husband gets frustrated with how much time she spends working.

Even though she has entertained other job offers, she has never wanted to leave.

“Why would I leave somebody that’s good to me,” Abram said.

She said the Kitchens family is generous and they often give donations. She said they will give second chances to people who have made mistakes in their past. The store also serves as a Safe Place for people seeking shelter from abuse.

The Kitchens have expanded to own two other locations at 4106 Clay St. and also Delta Discount on exit 186 in Delta, La.

“We just hope we provide the service and convenience to our customers,” Allen Kitchens said. “We’ll always try to be a community store. We support the area schools and churches and anything that we can be apart of in the community that’s what we’ve got to do.”