BY RICK WRIGHT –
Tim and Leona Scott purchased a convenience store in Hatfield, Arkansas. After remodeling, TJ’s opened their doors January 1st 2014 and has been going strong ever since.
“We were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma when Terry Scott, Tim’s dad, informed us that this business was for sale,” said Leona. “We had been looking at coming back home. Tim and I are both from Cove. So we bought it and Terry and Joan came and helped us remodel. We could not have done it without them.”
Leona and Tim graduated from Cove High School in 1987. Leona says to ask anyone in her graduating class and they will tell you their greatest influence was Coach Dave Campbell. “Some of us accepted the Lord because of Coach Campbell. We prayed together as a team. He was and still is an example to all of us of how to live as a Christian,” said Leona.
TJ’s has continued to grow since that opening day in 2014.
“It has been remarkable,” said Leona. “There’s nothing like coming back home. Coming back home and opening a business, we’ve got to see a lot of faces that we hadn’t seen in a long time, you know, and the community has supported us and our customers are like family. Our employees and our customers make this a joy.”
TJ’s has become one of the highlights of Hatfield.
“Us and Pinky,” laughed Leona. “We graduated high school, left for college and we’ve never been back until we purchased this store.”
Leona and Tim graduated from the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville. “Tim then got on with Walmart and next year he will have been with Walmart for 30 years,” said Leona. “Walmart has taken us everywhere. Mainly in the northwest and we spent five years in Alaska. We lived in Eagle River and went back there this past summer. While working there, Tim was able to travel the whole state as a District Manager.”
The previous store at this location was called Spanky’s. “After he passed away, Margie was glad to retire. I see her now with her grandkids and she is just the sweetest lady.” said Leona.
“Our chicken is probably our featured specialty,” said Leona. “We have a roaster here. Our burgers and the fish have been very popular. We sell a lot of fish. So those three items would be our biggest sellers. I think the growth in stores like TJ’s is due to our economy. It’s just hard to make it as a restaurant anywhere. If you’re making a little bit off gas, a little bit off soda pop and you’ve got the food, I think that combination of business does better. Brandi is over my kitchen and she’s been a cook here in Hatfield since she was 16 years old; people know her. That’s been our biggest success, our 12 employees. Brandi usually gets here at about 3:30 a.m. daily and opens the door at 4:30 a.m. because we have a lot of loggers come in. We serve a full breakfast. Some people get it to go and some have a little more time to sit down and eat and talk with fellow loggers.”
There are a lot of similar businesses in the county, but TJ’s has a unique feel and atmosphere of almost like ‘Going home’.
“Without our customers we wouldn’t be here,” said Leona. “We see the same people come in and we call them by name.”
“We had a dear friend in his 60’s get baptized Sunday in the Cossatot River,” said Leona. “There is no age limit to God. And a young girl got saved in VBS and because she got saved her family came to church, so the whole family got baptized along with Charles. I had tears in my eyes all day yesterday because of what the Lord has done. Our community is like that, we care about each other and help one another.”
TJ’s carries convenience items for travelers, for people who stay in local cabins or travel through with their recreational vehicles. “A lot of people come in who are staying in the cabins from Texas and Louisiana and they take advantage of what we have on the shelves,” said Leona.
“Our success here at TJ’s is my employees and our customers,” said Leona. “The same people come in and out. They want us to succeed as well. It makes you feel so good. They come by at night and something’s not right, I’m getting a text or a phone call. They take care of us. To be such a small community, you wouldn’t believe when someone gets sick, the things they do to help people around here. They’ve got this Community Center which is the old school where they are constantly doing things. At Halloween we all get together as a community in the churches and have games and we usually do the food.”
TJ’s is a shining light and gathering place for family and friends in Hatfield, Arkansas.