Word by Jenny Lynn Davis | Images by Justin Hunter
Bill and Sons Supermarket, a beloved family-owned fixture in Carbon Hill, recently marked a significant milestone, celebrating 35 years in its current location on Northeast 1st Avenue. This landmark achievement reflects the current generation of the Barnes family’s commitment to exceptional customer service, community engagement, and the enduring values instilled by their predecessors.
The roots of Bill and Sons Supermarket trace back to E.J. “Pete” Barnes, who established the family’s first store, Barnes Grocery, in the 1940s. Recognizing the potential in Carbon Hill during a visit, Pete purchased a store on Maple Street and Second Avenue in 1954 and transformed it into Barnes Grocery’s new home. Pete’s son, Bill, joined his father in the grocery business, becoming a partner in the store in 1960. In 1965, Bill partnered with renowned grocer Son Humphries to establish the store as it is known today, “Bill and Sons.”
Richard Barnes, son of Bill, grandson of Pete, and the supermarket’s current owner, joined in on the family legacy and became a partner in the store in 1980. Richard reflects on the invaluable lessons learned from his father and grandfather, sharing, “I learned a lot from those two—how to respect people of all ages and walks of life. The hard work ethic passed down through generations is evident in their dedication and the long hours they put into the store.”
Richard and Bill opened the supermarket at its current location on May 31, 1988. Still today, Bill and Sons remains a staple in Carbon Hill, serving as more than just a grocery store. Richard describes it as a place where people regularly see and connect with one another, akin to a church, school, or other social destination.
Richard’s son, Brandon, followed the family tradition and joined the family business in 1994. He echoes his father’s sentiments on the generations before, saying that his grandfather Bill substantially impacted his path in the business.
“I have a set standard inspired by the generations before me and will hopefully shape the ones after me,” he says. “My grandfather was a man of honesty and integrity, and he knew every person who walked through the door by name. That is my goal. I want to remain deeply connected to the pulse of the town and continue to foster genuine connections with customers.”
Richard and Brandon both note that, with the help of the store’s employees, a large portion of whom have been employed there for fifteen years or more, the store’s success is further made possible.
“We do a lot to make those customer connections, but our managers, cashiers, stockers, and the folks behind the scenes in every department truly make the difference. They’re all dedicated and helpful, and we couldn’t ask for a better team,” Brandon says.
The Barnes family’s commitment to the people of Carbon Hill has made them an integral part of the town’s fabric. Their dedication to exceptional service and strong work ethic have made the store a cherished institution in the community. As the legacy continues, the Barnes family remains grateful for the town’s support and looks forward to serving its residents for many years to come. WL