Several attended a ribbon cutting Tuesday to celebrate the opening of Howell’s Wholesale, a new local business that is located on Liberty Street in Martinsville. (Left to right): Paul Farrar; Andrew Palmer; W.C. Fowlkes; Del. Les Adams; Martinsville City Council member Danny Turner; owners Patricia and Richard Howell; Jerry Lawson; Dixie Darby; Earnest Darby; Hank DeHart.

By Corey Thompson

Howell’s Wholesale in Martinsville is officially open for business, with a ribbon cutting held at the store on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Richard and Patricia Howell own and operate the wholesale store, which is located at 617 Liberty Street.

The Howells said they decided to open the store because they understand small businesses. They also noted that individuals need an affordable alternative, and their customers will find a wide range of items for sale at low prices.

There are no membership fees or restrictions on who may shop in the store, according to Richard Howell.

“If you have American money you can shop here,” Richard Howell said, adding that individuals are among those most attracted to the wholesale prices.

A wholesale house offers merchandise at a small mark-up of around 10 to 30 percent. A retail store can often charge a mark-up of over 60 percent on its items. Howell’s Wholesale offers more than 500 different items for sale.

Merchandise in the new store ranges from household cleaning products to take-out trays. Shoppers can peruse the aisles and select the products they need.

Currently, the shelves are stocked with various products, from toilet paper, dish and hand soap to air fresheners, plastic cutlery, cake boxes, paper bags, motor oil and antifreeze. Additional merchandise is expected to arrive in the coming days.

A walk-in freezer corrals frozen items such as fries, hot dogs, chili, fish, chicken, barbeque, and more.

The store is housed in a 16,000 square foot warehouse the Howell’s leased from Lester Properties. A large loading bay door on the left side of the building serves as the main entrance. In colder months, a rear entrance may be used. However, the owners plan to use the side entrance as often as possible.

They said using it makes things easier for handicapped visitors. They also plan to allow customers to pull their cars in through the large entrance so items can be loaded out of any harsh weather.

“We are in the service industry, we realize that and then do something extra,” Richard Howell said.

Overall, the wholesale store is not concerned with “flash” or “pizzazz” when it comes to its image. The store exists as a cheap and affordable place for anyone to find what they need.

Del. Les Adams, R- Chatham, was among those to attend the event. Adams said it is a privilege to help small business. His belief in the importance of supporting local, home grown businesses prompted his visit.

Martinsville City Council member Danny Turner said he helped the Howells navigate the permitting and other processes required to enable the business to locate in the city after the Howells saw the need for the store to locate there.

Turner said he believes it is incumbent on the city to make the process as easy as possible to make sure businesses want to locate there and he is willing to help any business locating and investing in the City of Martinsville.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon.