By Michelle Leidy-Franklin
CLEARWATER – Mize’s Thriftway is celebrating 50 years in Clearwater.
The mom and pop grocery store was founded in Clearwater in 1971 by Nolan and Betty Mize. It has been a family operation ever since.
Nolan got into the grocery business in 1956 when he bought his first grocery store. Nolan and Betty moved their family to Clearwater when Fleming Foods made them an offer on the grocery store location in Clearwater.
The store was originally located downtown on Ross Avenue.
After 20 years, the Mize family decided to expand and moved the store to 449 N. Fourth Street. They were able to more than double the square footage of the store. Mize’s Thriftway went from 6,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet. The family-run grocery store has remained in the second location for the last 30 years. The additional space allowed the Mizes to carry more variety in their selections. They continue to try new things and offer increasing variety to their customers.
Nolan and Betty raised their children in the grocery business. Together they had four boys who all spent time working in the store, even as children. Their sons Brad and Eric Mize currently own the store.
“I have worked in this store my whole life. We started as kids at 5 and 6 years old,” said Brad.
Brad said that over the years all of the Mizes have worked at the store at one point or another. He now has young grandchildren who work for him, especially over summer break. His son, Josh, has worked for the family store for 24 years.
Mize’s Thriftway has not just employed family members. It has had some longterm employees contributing to its success – employees like David Coon who began working for Mize’s in 1972 and has continued working for the store for nearly 50 years.
“I’m carrying out a third generation’s worth of groceries now,” Coon said in a November 2000 interview. “I get to see a lot of people every day. It’s great.”
Brad agrees with Coon’s sentiment.
“The best part is seeing the people and knowing the people. There are some people who came to the store at 3 years old that now bring their kids in. We are now serving second and third generations,” said Brad.
The store is celebrating its anniversary with specials throughout the week. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the store will celebrate with a special lunch offer. Staff will be working hard to show appreciation to the community that has supported them for the last 50 years.
“I will be celebrating by working my tail off. All of us will be working hard to pull this off,” said Brad.
Details on the week-long celebration for the Mize’s Thriftway anniversary can be found on their Facebook page.