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News of Fred’s closure hits hard in Mississippi town of Sardis

SARDIS , Miss. — Shoppers across the Mid-South are concerned about the recent news that Memphis-based retailer Fred's will close more than 100 stores by the end of June.

But in Sardis, people say the closing is like losing a member of the family.

"It's very upsetting, very upsetting," said Jessie Wheatley, who was shopping at the Fred's off Highway 315.

She said she's been a customer practically all her life.
"First they closed the pharmacy. What else they gonna close down here, really?" shopper Carol Lewis asked. "It's just sad. It's pitiful. Why they closing? Did they say why?"

The company said it's a "necessary step in the company's continued restructuring." In plain English, that means a Band-Aid on the gaping wound of plummenting sales.
[take sot brooke lewis, pharmacist, co-owner people's pharmacy in sardis

"It's just devastating news," said Brooke Lewis, pharmacist and co-owner of People's Pharmacy in Sardis. "It's just an integral part of this community and this shopping center. We hate to hear this.:

Lewis worked in the pharmacy at the Sardis Fred's until it closed in December. She knew then it wouldn't be long before the other shoe dropped.

"It doesn't surprise me that they are closing. I hate to hear it, but I think everybody kind of knew that, within time, it might be happening," she said.

Lewis says she didn't want to leave Sardis, and she wanted what's best for the community, so she opened People's Pharmacy in the same small shopping center as Fred's and hired two pharmacy techs she'd worked with just across the parking lot.

Lewis says she fills many of her customers' prescriptions while they do their shopping at Fred's, and now she'll be expanding her inventory of non-prescription medicines so customers can still shop at home.

The news that Fred's would leaving caught Sardis Mayor Lula Palmer by surprise. She's especially worried about the workers.

"Oh, those employees," she said. "Now we're gonna have citizens that's going to be without a job, unless they transfer them to another Fred's location."

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