The new Mini-Max grocery and variety store set to open in Winfield later this summer is part of a chain of stores owned by Bill Johnson, a Muskogee, Okla.-based entrepreneur with a goal of opening stores in food deserts to help serve others.
The store in Winfield is scheduled to open around July 1, according to signs in the from of the former Save-A-Lot space at Winfield Plaza. Employees are currently being hired.
The former J.C. Penney store next door is also set to reopen as a Mini-Max variety store, offering discounted home products.
Johnson and his family opened their first store in Muskogee in 1977, according to a press release he provided. They started with M&P Foods, a small grocery store. Within 10 years, the family obtained the largest share of the Muskogee grocery business with their Johnson Foods and Price Mart stores.
However, Johnson wanted to do more to help people save money and help those who are struggling to make ends meet, according to the release.
Johnson said he had the idea three years ago to open stores in food deserts, or neighborhoods without a grocery store located nearby. His goal is to grow this effort as quickly as possible within the next five years, while helping people by allowing them to save money on both food and non-food items.
“I have developed a non-profit and a for-profit business to jointly engage a new way to help bring people and resources together again,” Johnson said.
The for-profit business, Johnson Enterprises Holding Company, will deliver affordable food and living necessities to customers and non-profits, according to a press release, with stores operating under the Mini-Max name.
Johnson Enterprises Holding Company is a member of the Associated Wholesale Grocers, a large, retail member-owned co-op that provides a full line of grocery products at cost to its membership.
The variety stores will gain inventory through purchasing and reselling overstock, closeout merchandise, seconds and overruns. The associated non-profit is called Genesis 12:2.
Johnson’s Christian faith is a big part of his business, guiding many of his decisions, the release states.
He said he was inspired to start the new business and the non-profit as a way to help individuals and organizations by helping them to save money and teaching life skills.
The project was piloted in Muskogee, with plans to bring it to other cities in the future.
“The intent is to quickly expand and further develop the proven, self- sustaining retail business into other markets, services, and locations,” Johnson said. “We would then be able to extend blessings of savings on more of life’s essentials to a greater number of individuals.”