By John Howell, The Panolian
Shortly after 7 a.m. on a fine June Saturday morning,Chuck Spriggs had sold out of almost every kind of biscuit he offers in his store at the intersection of Mimosa Street/Pope-Water Valley Road and Highway 51 in Pope.
The steady trickle of customers that started as early as he did about 5 a.m.had depleted his supply. They had purchased gas,minnows, coffee, milk, bread, coffee, canned goods, earthworms, lunchmeat or crickets.
And almost every one of them left with a biscuit wrapped around a sausage, egg, cheese, smoked sausage, bacon or some combination.
Spriggs greeted most by name and they returned his salutation. One well-dressed lady — someone who Chuck later said he did not know — paused in the middle of her shopping and commented, “I may as well make one stop do.”
Then she asked him for a dozen eggs. He did not have the dozen but quickly cut down a cardboard flat to enclose six eggs from his kitchen supply to make sure her one stop would indeed do.
Such is life at a crossroads in Pope where the retail activity is so eclectic that Spriggs did well to give the business his name: The Chuck Stop.
Further north at the intersections of Green Road/Main Street with Highway 51, Tina and David Redwine have opened the Pope Country Cafe where diners are generating more economic
Just down the hill on Main Street next to the railroad tracks where The Place has captured the history of the store building that has occupied that space since 1865, Gwen Montgomery, Pat Powell
and staff host even more diners.
Two restaurants in a town where the population hovers not far above 200 might suffer for patronage if their respective cuisines had not turned Pope into a dining destination.
During a given visit to either restaurant a visitor can usually find a cadre of regulars in their usual places plus dining guests from throughout Panola and surrounding counties.
Out on Hentz Road, Dollar General has joined Magnolia Sales and Lipe Well Supply to create a commercial corridor leading from the Pope/Courtland exit from Interstate 55. Back at the corner of
Mimosa and Highway 51, Chuck managed his conversation between the continued relay of customers.
He bought the store last September and “worked really hard to clean it up,” he said. His stint as an entrepreneur followed retirement from the Mississippi National Guard as a full-time recruiter.
He added 1,000 square feet his building, expanding the liquor store that came with the existing business. He opened the addition as the Liquor Lodge in February. Spriggs employs five or six people to staff the two enterprises, he said.
Chuck and his wife, Aimee, built their house in Pope in 2007, moving from DeSoto County. She has has been rehab director at Golden Living in Batesville since 2003. The Spriggs are parents of two daughters. Shelby, 14, will enter South Panola as a freshman in August. Taylor, 11, is a student at Pope School.
“I’m here to make money, obviously,” the Chuck Stop’s owner said. “But I’m here to support the community, too, because I live here.”