Big Oak General Store in Calhoun opened their doors in July 2019. Since opening, the store has been continuously expanding, whether it’s the physical store or their products.
Owner James Perkins said the store started in one room and is now in both sides of the building and has even expanded further back. This expansion took place in the summer of 2020.
“It was because of the demand of the community,” Perkins said. “Not having a grocery store here in Calhoun. When COVID-19 hit, a lot of people weren’t traveling and were looking for something local. That’s when we saw a big boom in business.”
He said the store is constantly bringing in more products and new products. Perkins said the grocery industry is still seeing shortages in products.
He said he is looking for another location to move the store to and would love to move into the former IGA building this year because they “desperately need a bigger space.”
If the store is able to move into a bigger building, the store would begin offering a hot deli, along with more frozen vegetables, frozen meals, fresh vegetables and more meat options.
Perkins said he has been asked to open other locations in different cities and counties but his main focus is Calhoun and McLean County.
Getting to know the people in the city and county is one of Perkins’ favorite parts of the job.
“We have one customer that comes in pretty much every night, six days a week,” he said. “It almost feels like it’s not a complete night until you see that person. We have a lot of people like that.”
Perkins said a lot of people in the community don’t realize Big Oak is a grocery store.
“I want people to know we’re a grocery store,” he said. “We’ve had customers within city limits that didn’t know we were here or didn’t know we were a grocery store.”
Despite opening less than a year before COVID-19, Perkins said the store has not been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
He said when the pandemic began, the store was able to grow because more Calhoun and McLean County residents were shopping local, but business has declined some since more stores are reopening.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the store is offering curbside pickup for no additional charge. Customers can call the store and an employee will shop with them while they are on the phone. Once at the store, the customer will call and inform them they are there and will pay at pickup.
“I really appreciate our customers and I’m glad they shop with us,” Perkins said.
Big Oak General Store is located at 140 Main St. in Calhoun. For questions or curbside pickup, call 270-273-2020.
Karah Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org