Why this man says running a small neighborhood store made him rich, not wealthy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For this week’s Pass It On, an entire family of playmakers wanted to help a man who gave them many happy memories.

Meet the Garrisons! Father Tommy, mother Dorothy, daughter Sandra, and her sister Carolyn Garrison Walker.

They all used to live in South Memphis and have fond memories of their neighborhood grocery store.

For 45 years, owner Irvin Jackson served the Elliston Heights community, and while his homemade cold-cut sandwiches and coleslaw were legendary, it was his kindness the Garrisons remember most.

“It was a family store. He counted us as family. He had pictures of everybody hanging on the wall and we were family and we miss him a lot. The store closed, and it’s not going to open and it’s not the same.”

It’s been a rough year. Mr. Jackson’s first-born son who helped run the store died unexpectedly, and Mr. Jackson is just out of the hospital after a five-week hospital stay.

He’s 83 now, and had to shut the store for good. Sandra’s been worried about the toll it must be taking.

“All I could think about is, he’s not going to be here anymore. We haven’t done anything for him. He’s always done something for us. We don’t know what he needs because he never says anything about what he needs.”

We followed the Garrisons to the Jacksons’ house. They came prepared, so that with balloons and cameras rolling, it felt like a Publisher’s Clearing House moment.

The Jacksons were expecting company, but it took a minute to realize what was really going on.

After the Garrisons Pass It On, Mr. Jackson said he didn’t get wealthy running his store, but he did get rich — with customers who became friends.

“Do you miss the store?”

“Quite a bit!”

The Garrisons let the Jacksons know, they’re missed too.

The Jacksons haven’t had a car because they couldn’t afford a new fuel pump for their SUV. Now they do.