Paris-based WindStone Farms LLC, a well-known local purveyor of blackberry jam, has been sold to Louisville-based Algood Food Co., effective Jan. 1.
WindStone owner Billy Gatton Jones and the late Wayne Shumate oversaw the growth of the company, which got off the ground after the two began selling the jam in the 1990s.
"What's going to happen now is these guys are going to take this little bitty company to another level," Jones said.
Looking back Monday, Jones recalled when "the first bit of business we did was selling a year's supply out of the trunk of my car.
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"We were just having fun," he said. "We gave most of it away for Christmas presents."
As the business grew, the company turned to eventual buyer Algood Food, which manufactures peanut butter and preserves, for packaging.
The jam's first retail foray came when it was picked up by Bob Slone for his supermarkets in Lexington at the time. Kroger picked it up for five stores and then 120, Jones said.
The blackberries came from Shumate's farm, although increased demand led them to buy from other farmers. Jones bought the company after Shumate's death in 2005. The farm, which continues to be owned by Shumate's family, was not part of the sale.
The year before, Wal-Mart began selling the jam, which is now sold in 90 stores. It's now sold in 245 Kroger, 80 Meijer and 100 Sam's Club stores, according to WindStone. Kroger agreed recently to stock the jam in 1,250 stores from Virginia to Texas, Jones said.
"Sometimes I have to sit down when I see a Wal-Mart purchase order come across our desk or a Kroger purchase order. It just takes you back," he said. "When we started this thing, it was like selling violins door to door. There just wasn't much going on.
"Now it's a whole other operation, and it'll be a bigger operation once these guys get their hands in it."
WindStone's employees will be retained by Algood, but Jones said he's retiring. Again. He had retired from the food business in the 1990s, only to work with Shumate at WindStone.
"I love the food business, but it's time to move on for me," he said.