After 32 years of managing local grocery stores, current Kroger general manager Bill Goodwin has retired.
His last day at the store was Friday. He bid farewell to his employees surrounded by balloons, gifts and a goodbye cake.
“There is no question I will miss the customers and the employees,” Goodwin said. “I’ve got some employees that have been with me all 32 years. And I have a lot of others who have been with me 20-25 years.”
Goodwin said he has seen families grow in his store.
“I see mom and dad, and the next thing I know I got their kids working for me and before long I have their kids working for me. So it’s been a great experience with the community,” he said.
Goodwin was the manager of the first Piggly Wiggly Southern, located off West Hendry Street that opened in Hinesville in 1980. He operated that store for 10 years. The corporate owners sold the store to Bruno’s Supermarkets LLC who built a new store on Oglethorpe Highway, named it Food Max and retained Goodwin as manager.
He was born and raised in Georgia’s first state capital, Louisville. He attended South Georgia College for two quarters then transferred to Georgia Southern University.
“I graduated from there and then went into the grocery business and management and have been in about 10-15 towns in the state of Georgia, working in my 40 years,” he said. “My first days here (in Georgia) I moved around quite often. I was in Brunswick, Vidalia, Lyons and Statesboro…but when I came here…I found a home.”
Goodwin said the people in Hinesville have been supportive of him, the store and his employees.
“When I first got here, Jim Floyd Sr. made a comment to me,” Goodwin said. “He said, ‘If you give back to this community it will give to you,’ and I took that to heart…and the more I gave, the more the community gave and the more they supported us.”
Goodwin has been a driving force of Kroger’s local commitment to charities and school programs.
“Over the years we’ve helped raise a little more than $1.5 million for different charitable organizations and different groups here in the community and the schools. Hinesville is one of the most giving communities I’ve ever been associated with. I had never been associated with a town that is as giving as this town.”
“Bill has been a true asset to Kroger and our Hinesville community, and we wish him and his family all the best in the years ahead,” Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for the Kroger Co. (Atlanta Division), said. “We are very grateful for his service with The Kroger Co.”
Goodwin said he is looking forward to golf, fishing and time with his wife, Carla, stepdaughter, Stephany Swindell Woods, and son, Jeff Goodwin. But, while he might be done in the grocery business, he said plans to keep busy.
“I’m still going to be there. I’m not leaving the community. And I’m not going to become inactive in helping the community. I’m just going to do it in a different way,” he said. I’m actually going to open up another business here in town with my wife…and my kids will be involved in it and we’ll kind of make it a family affair.”