Opening of Williams Corner
Williams Corner officially opened its doors early in the spring of 2022 and business has been booming ever since.
Described as the “unofficial front door” to the Williams Works program and Williams Baptist University, Williams Corner will give patrons an opportunity to learn about Williams in a unique way, while also shopping for specialty items, gifts, candles, produce, flowers and much more.
Williams Corner officially opened in March and held its grand opening ceremony on April 8. Many of the items for sale in the store were grown and selected with the help of Williams Works students, who help run and manage the store’s day-to-day operations.
“The opening of Williams Corner is another step in our Williams Works initiative and serves as an outlet for the produce and other goods grown on Eagle Farms,” WBU President Dr. Stan Norman said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We are thankful to all the community leaders and members and the WBU Board of Trustees who gathered with us today for this historic day. We thank you all for your generosity and continued support of Williams Works and Williams Baptist University.”
Among those in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Dr. Norman, WBU Board of Trustees Chairman Jody Smotherman, WBU Board of Trustees members Jamar Andrews and JR Cox, Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp, Lawrence County Judge John Tomison, Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Renee Bland, Williams Corner store Manager Angela Flippo and Williams Corner student Managers Madison Creasy and Sarah Smith, members of the local community and WBU faculty and staff.
The store serves as the official outlet for produce grown by Williams Works students on Eagle Farms. Much of the produce begins in the greenhouses and is transferred to the fields to finish its growing process. Students on the farm pick produce fresh daily and bring it to the store for processing. It is then placed in the store for sale to the public and a list of the fresh produce available each day is posted on the store’s Facebook page.
“The response from the community has been fantastic,” Flippo said. “Our customers have continually come in looking to see what new items we have in stock and what produce is brought in from the farm. I think that is what makes this special, not only are you shopping local, but you are also shopping from Williams students who helped grow the produce or select the items in the store.”
The student-involvement is an aspect that attracts patrons to the store and the students gain valuable work experience and first-hand knowledge in customer service and marketing expertise. Creasy has helped build a social media presence for the store by posting daily with sales and in-stock items, while Smith has taken on a managerial role in ensuring the store is stocked daily.
“I know the knowledge I’m gaining in this program will help me get a job in whatever field, in my case education, that I want to go into,” Smith said. “I would not be able to get this kind of work experience with this kind of support anywhere else. I love my Williams family and I love the environment God has put me into to succeed. I would not want to be anywhere else.”
Likewise, for Creasy, the job has allowed her not only to gain work experience but also to explore new passions like photography as a result of her duties for posting to the Williams Corner Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“I always had a little interest in it, but it has really taken off since I came to work at the store,” she said. “I’ve been to get creative with our products in the store and find creative ways to show them off. I don’t think I would have ever found this creative side of myself had it not been for the Williams Works program.”
While the fresh produce is a big draw for many, Williams Corner offers much more. Students also grow fresh flowers and plants in one of the two greenhouses located on the Williams campus. The plants are then brought to the store’s front porch and marked for sale to the public. The porch has become somewhat of an iconic symbol for the store, distinguishing it to those driving by on the busy Highway 67.
“I think when they drive by and see the porch full of flowers it catches their attention,” Flippo said. “This is one the busiest highways we have and if we have people tell us all the time that they drove by and saw our porch turned around to see what we had for sale. I think it’s definitely a characteristic that people recognize.”
If produce and flowers are not your things, the store still has much more to offer. Various gift options from baby clothes to men’s wallets and beach attire to season decor line the walls of Williams Corner. It truly is a unique shopping experience that helps support the mission of Williams Baptist University to provide an excellent, holistically Christian, liberal arts education, while compassionately shaping students’ lives.
The Williams Works program is entering its third year and will welcome its third cohort of students this fall. The program has continued to grow each year through generous donations and support from local businesses and community members.
Williams Corner was made possible through that support and will continue to thrive with more support like it. Williams Corner is located at 3894 Hwy 67N in Walnut Ridge, next to the entrance of Williams Baptist University off highway 67.
For more information on Williams Corner visit the store’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/WilliamsCornerStore and for more information on the Williams Works program visit www.williamsbu. edu/williamsworks.