MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, May 11th.

Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Closed on
Sunday. Last month, a news outlet in Mississippi reported a store
closing in a small town. But in this case, the store owners were happy
about it.

REICHARD: That’s because the weekly closings are planned
and purposeful—a good example of what happens when our convictions play
out in the public square.

WORLD Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson brings us the report.

SOUND: BIRD CHIRPING

KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: “Piggly Wiggly” is
spelled out in giant letters above the entrance to this popular grocery
store in Carthage, Mississippi. A sparrow sits atop the “w,” greeting
customers as they walk beneath.

SOUND: UNBOXING MERCHANDISE

Inside, in Aisle 3, Welch’s fruit snacks are hitting the shelves. Two rows over, it’s jars of marinade.

SOUND: JARS RATTLING

But over by the deli, store owner Bob Pucklitsch is wiping
up some kind of spill. He’s a hands-on kind of boss, and he’s been
working for Piggly Wiggly for 35 years, starting in high school as a bag
boy.

PUCKLITSCH: Slowly worked my way up
the chain and went to stocking groceries, to produce manager, to
assistant manager, to store manager in 1997. Was in that capacity for 10
years and then became a supervisor in a multi-store chain.

Pucklitsch is now 51, and as each year of his career
passed, he and his wife kept bringing up the same conversation. The same
dream.

PUCKLITSCH: If we ever owned a store, and we never thought we would, but wouldn’t it be special if we closed on Sunday?

SOUND: STORE ACTIVITY

In 2017 they bought this store in Carthage, a town of about
4,800 people. As the new owner, Pucklitsch could set its hours. He
hesitated on Sunday closings, though, saying he needed to pay off the
cost of buying the store first. They were able to do that a year early.

PUCKLITSCH: My wife asked me in February, she said, “Are we going to start closing like you said?” and I said, “Yes.”

Still, Pucklitsch wrestled with God over the decision before putting the wheels in motion. Then he stopped wrestling.

PUCKLITSCH: I just bowed my head. I said, “Lord, we’ll start closing in three weeks.”

Getting inventory on track was a top concern. Pucklitsch
didn’t want food items to sit through Sunday, so they adjusted the
schedule. Another thing on his to-do list: Making sure his 36 employees
understood why they were doing it.

PUCKLITSCH: If they weren’t able to
attend church service, to be able to do that. I didn’t want it to be
that work stood in the way anymore.

Danny Boyette has been stocking shelves at this Piggly
Wiggly for 13 years. He explains what his fellow workers are saying
about this new Sunday policy.

BOYETTE: They think it’s great. They think it’s a good change. They think more people ought to follow suit.

And while Pucklitsch didn’t work many Sundays, he says the change has been good for him, too.

PUCKLITSCH: If a store is open,
generally an owner or a store manager’s going to always wonder, “Well,
should I go by, should I check on them? Should I call?”

AMBI: STORE

Piggly Wiggly announced its Sunday closings via Facebook on April 20th. The post has had more than 600,000 views.

PUCKLITSCH: We’ve had comments from
people in Arizona, in New Jersey, uh, really all over the United
States—overwhelmingly positive . . .

What about negative responses?

PUCKLITSCH: We used a Bible verse
from Exodus. It says on the six days, you know, to gather and on the
seventh not to and the Sabbath to be holy. Well, the Sabbath is
Saturday. So you had the people who wanted to throw that correction in
there . . .

One of his favorite comments came from a professed atheist.

PUCKLITSCH: He said, “I don’t
believe in God, but I think it’s great for a business to be willing to
forego their sales to allow their employees to be off.”

SOUND: CASH REGISTER

That’s the first mention of foregone sales, but it’s a big
part of the story. The new closed sign represents a potential loss of
about $30-thousand dollars each Sunday.

PUCKLITSCH: Sunday is a big day. It
would always be the third best day, if not sometimes the second best
day, just depending on time of the month…

Since May 2nd, Sundays come and go without the doors of
Piggly Wiggly opening. Pucklitsch is hopeful about the possible effects
on the community. He gives an illustration about a husband who goes out
to buy buns on a Sunday, but can’t.

PUCKLITSCH: “Well, it says on the
door they closed so they could let their employees go to a church and
spend the day with their family,” you know? And they said, “Well, isn’t
that crazy.” Maybe one of their children was sitting there and said,
“Well, I’d like to go to church,” and that created a dialogue. You just
don’t know.

SOUND: PARKING LOT

Two doors down from the Piggly Wiggly sits a vacant
building. It used to house a Fred’s, part of a retail store chain. Years
ago, many Fred’s stores displayed signs that read: “The day is worth
more than the dollar.” They were closed on Sundays. Now they’re closed
completely.

Pucklitsch thinks about that, but he says he’s not worried
about the consequences of his decision. Does he wish he’d made it
sooner?

PUCKLITSCH: I do. And I think every
time you struggle with letting go of the world and holding on to God,
you always regret the length of time it took you to do that. I just pray
that every time I have a decision to make I’ll hold on a lot less.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Carthage, Mississippi.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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