By: Sara Hope
V & J (Velma and John Rives) had raised 3 kids in sunny California and now their nest was empty. Dr. Pool at the Lynchburg Drug Store (Velma’s brother) called them to see if they might be interested in buying a grocery store. Now that it was just the two of them again, they wanted a new adventure. No place better than the beautiful green hills of Tennessee. They purchased the Bobo Grocery in 1968 and quickly became the best place in town to buy a pimento cheese sandwich. Mr. Johnny stocked the shelves and cut up chicken and pretty “Miss” Velma ran the check stand. They were a good team. They worked hard and made so many friends. Back in those days you could write a counter check from Farmers Bank, with no tracking numbers nor ID, to pay for your week’s groceries. Miss Mary Bobo would call Mr. Johnny on Monday morning, with her grocery list. She would order cut up fryers, and all the fixings to feed visitors from the distillery. Mr. Johnny would deliver to her back door with a smile and sometimes got a piece of pie as his tip. They were happy at the V & J and made lots of memories for them and also some happy memories for a lot of folks in Lynchburg. The impact they made on one little girl was huge. Kellie was one of the 3 Grand kids that came to live in Lynchburg in 1975. The joy of a kid who has a whole candy counter waiting for her when she got off the bus every afternoon was pretty special. Watching her Grandmother in the store and seeing their relationship with the town, instilled a desire for her, “to have a store”. When she was little, she played store and made things to sell. She tied strings to June bugs and went to the Square to sell them to tourist. She wanted so much to make that connection she witnessed with V & J. FAST FORWARD to April 14, 2018. Kellie and her husband Dean Sandefur will open VELMA’s CANDY, formerly Nina’s, just two doors down from the old V & J Market. It’s going to be a great place for local folks and visitors to Lynchburg. They will carry the Jack Daniel fudge as well as some new recipes. They will have unique gifts and lots of items for the little ones. Her hope is to spark some happy memories at VELMA’s Candy store, like her dear Grand parents did so many years ago at the V & J.