Roadside Grocer Brightening East Texans Days - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/11/07-Tyler

Roadside Grocer Brightening East Texans Days

If you ever drive the stretch of highway from Tyler to Jacksonville, you've probably seen him: an unassuming man, operating a roadside vegetable stand, waving at every person who passes him.  Some KLTV viewers have written in wanting to know the story behind the man they say always makes them smile.  Today, Lindsay Wilcox went to find out just what makes the roadside grocer tick.

Money no longer motivates the retired school bus driver to get up and go to work every morning. For Herbert Phillips, selling produce out of the bed of his pick-up is a joy he looks forward to day in and day.  "I just like being out here waving at people, making friends with people," said Phillips.

People seem to like him, too.  As they pass, some will waive and other's will honk. Then, on a good day, customers like Ken Barron will stop by to pick up a little something on the way home.

It's a big change of pace from the stress-filled days the grandfather of six says he endured at the bus barn. Now, working seven days a week, he's become a sort of fixture at the corner of Cumberland and 69, and people take notice when he's not on the job.

"The last time I took off a couple days, people were coming by and they didn't see me. People were telling me they were worried, thought something had happened to me and they were wondering. I said, 'Lord, if I'm not out there all the time, they're going to have the police looking for me'," Phillips said.

Phillips credits good customer service and quality control for the success of his small roadside operation.  But ask anyone who stops, and they'll probably tell you his friendly waive and genuine smile have as much to do with it as anything.

Lindsay Wilcox, Reporting.  lwilcox@kltv.com

 

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