Five Points Grocery making way for traffic circle, closing doors Sunday

Sue Guinn Legg • Mar 29, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Five Points Grocery in Jonesborough will close its doors for good on Sunday evening at 7.

Owner Kelly Street said Friday she has signed a settlement agreement with the Tennessee Department of Transportation for it to purchase and demolish the landmark store, making way for a new traffic roundabout to be constructed at the dangerous Five Points intersection later this year. Most of her stock has already been sold. The remainder is marked down and was selling fast on Friday.

Street said was looking forward to “doing nothing for a while.”

“Me and Five Points have had a good run. Jonesborough has been good to me. ... They raised me. I’ve been down here off and on since I was about 7 years old when dad had the Chicken Shack across from the middle school. I’ve done good business. But I guess it’s time,” she said.

“I’ll find something else to do but not right now. I’m just going to hang out and see what’s going on. ... I guess I’m pretty lucky. It will all be good.”

Gladys Williford, a longtime employee of the grocery, has received a beer permit for a new store at the former Gentleman Jim’s Country Diner location two miles south of Five Points at 2102 Tenn. Highway 81 S., where she and her husband, Matt, will begin doing business Monday as The Point.

Shelves and coolers at the Willifords’ new store were nearly full on Friday and Matt was busy installing new light fixtures. Gladys said she’s shed a lot of tears over the old grocery’s closing and wanted to open on Monday to keep its customers. The store has a nice view of Buffalo Mountain in the distance and she said, “That will be our motto, a new point of view.”

“We’re going to stock up on Dramamine (motion sickness medicine) for the new roundabout and put that on the sign, ‘Rough road ahead,’ ” Matt said in a lighthearted reference to the traffic circle coming to Five Points.

Street said she, too, thinks the traffic circle will “be rough” on drivers, especially during its construction.

“There’s people who aren’t going to know how to operate a traffic circle. And with the big trucks from the (Farmer’s) Co-op, I think its going to hard for a lot of people to operate.

“It’s an awful intersection. People fly. And when the trucks were at my store, you couldn’t see. Something had to be done,” she said. “We’ll see. What goes around the traffic circle comes around the traffic circle. And if it doesn’t work, It’ll be, ‘whoops, traffic circle at Five Points, as I’m laying on the beach.’ ”

TDOT officials say they hope to advertise for construction bids on the project later this month, award the contract in June and begin work by late July.

Because of the large number of young drivers who pass through the intersection going to and from nearby David Crockett High School on State Route 34, the state will provide traffic circle driving safety classes at the high school in August.

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