Pratt’s Country Store celebrates 100 years in Fountain City

By Ken Lay

Pratt’s Country Store celebrated a milestone over the weekend.

The store, a fixture in Fountain City, located at 3100 Tazewell Pike, turned 100 and marked its centennial anniversary with two days of parties.

On a clear Friday afternoon, the family-owned corner store owners, Perry and Kellie Pratt, thanked its loyal customers for years of patronage.

“We’re here today to mark the 100th anniversary of Perry’s family coming here,” Kellie Pratt said. “They came here in 1924. It is special.”

The family-owned corner store has been around for generations and has always put God, family, customer service and community first. It’s known primarily for its produce. But to the Pratts, the customers have always been more than just mere trading partners. They’ve always been treated like family.

“We put down roots and we have a little community store. We’re a small business,” Kellie said. “For us, it’s about the relationships.”

Pratt’s Country Store has given many residents their first jobs. Perry and Kellie have also given five family members their first work experience.

“One of the things that Perry does best is teaching life skills,” Kellie said. “He’s given kids in the community their first job and Perry always works with them and teaches life skills.

“We’ve had our three kids work here and my sister had two kids work here.”

State and national leaders were in attendance at Friday afternoon’s celebration and they had memories of Pratt’s.

State Representative Michele Carringer, a lifelong resident of Fountain City, recalled her early memories of the store.

“Pratt’s Country Store was our bank and when we needed money for gas, our parents would write us a $5 check and they would cash it,” Carringer said. “They would cash it and we could get a little bit of gas.

“Of course $5 worth of gas went a lot further back then. It might’ve lasted you a month or so.”

Former Knox County Mayor and current United States Representative Tim Burchett was also in attendance Friday afternoon.  He did as he promised and kept his remarks short.

“It’s an election year and politicians could be up here for two hours,” Burchett said. “I had a speech, but then I heard them talk about Jesus, so I decided not to give the speech.

“I’m honored to serve the people of Knoxville, but I’m even more honored to be here today for a great family.”

Burchett noted that his mother also shopped at Pratt’s.

State Senator Becky Duncan Massey was on hand. Like Carringer and Burchett, she shared a memory of the store.

“There’s actually a picture of me in the store,” she said. “I was a little girl in a dress and I was with my father.”

The store has meant so much to Fountain City and residents from surrounding areas, and Kellie Pratt said that it must do what it does well.

“We can’t compete with the big box stores. We have to do what we do and we have to do it well,” she said. “It’s like Perry says, if you follow the principles in the Bible and you’re honest and you treat people well, the rest will take care of itself.”

The couple’s son, Charlie, was the master of ceremonies for Friday afternoon’s festivities and he honored his parents.

“I’ve often thought it I could be half the man that my dad is, then I would be doing pretty good,’ Charlie Pratt said. “One day, he told me that he was proud to be my dad. And I said, ‘You’re not retiring, are you?’

“I’m proud to be his son.”

Perry, usually a man of few words, thanked the customers for years of patronage.

“You all have made this possible and it’s all about praise and thanksgiving for our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

The festivities concluded and the attendees were treated to watermelon and ice cream.