“ Had it not been for my mom and my father , the family , and this community , Black and white , none of what I ’ ve achieved in life up to this point would have been possible .”
transportation wasn ’ t what it is was today . There were dozens of families living in rural parts of Washington County whose means of transportation back then consisted only of a horse or mule-drawn wagon . Many other residents during that era simply walked to the store to get the necessary items they needed .
“ This is where those folks traded and bought their groceries ,” recalls Sonny .
Once the kaolin industry came to Washington County years later , the store took on a new image or sorts .
“ It sort of changed from a general merchandise store to somewhat of a hardware store ,” says Sonny .
With the Fall Line Freeway opening , the store has again seen yet another change — transitioning more into a convenience store . The store still sells some hardware items , however , as well as gasoline and diesel fuel to motorists who stop in . Many of the customers are regulars . Now that the highway sees a lot more traffic , from motorists traveling from Columbus to Macon and then to Augusta , those working there also see more travelers stopping to buy items .
“ The mining industry has peaked and is still a major customer or group of customers ,” says Sonny . “ But what we ’ re starting to see more of now is people traveling this freeway and stopping here at the store to buy different things .”
The store has gone through multiple changes over the decades , but the wholesome personalities of those working there hasn ’ t changed one bit .
“ We still strive to be as friendly as we can be , because we believe that ’ s the way folks ought to be treated — as nicely as we can treat them ,” says Sonny . “ We try to accommodate our customers in anyway we can . It ’ s really no secret .”
One of the keys to operating a successful business for so many years is the fact that many good , hard-working employees work either at the store or the contracting company . Many of them have worked for the Barksdale family for decades .
“ The people who work for you are an extension of you , especially in this store ,” says Sonny . “ My mother listened to a lot of people ’ s problems while running this store .”
He explained that people would come into the store having a bad day and talk with his mother about the things going on in their lives .
“ Just to have somebody who would take five minutes to care and to listen to you meant so much to so many people around here over the years ,” says Sonny . “ My mother has been a mother-type figure to hundreds of people . I don ’ t care where I go , people always ask me how is your mom ? It ’ s the personal touch here that I think has made the difference through the years .” Family means a lot to the Barksdales . Sonny and Brownie Barksdale ’ s son , T . Wright Barksdale III , is now the youngest elected district attorney in Georgia . Barksdale , who took office back in January , remembers working at the store while growing up and attending Brentwood School in Washington County .
“ We ’ re very proud of Wright ,” says Sonny . “ And we ’ re very proud of his family .”
Sonny says he ’ s always believed that it takes a village to raise a child .
“ And there are a lot of people in this community that had a hand in Wright , and our daughter , who is a speech pathologist , Mary Elizabeth . We attended church and we tried to