Recently, when speaking of some of Siloam Springs’ long-lasting barber shops, Found in the Archives noted that if a local business is open long enough, it becomes as much a cultural icon as a business. This has been the case with a prominent grocery store in Siloam Springs. Many residents of Siloam remember the Harps store on Highway 412 as IGA. Those who have lived in Siloam longer will remember that IGA was once called Hal Millsap IGA Food Liner and had occupied multiple different locations before the facility on Highway 412 was built.
According to Maggie Smith’s 1975 book about Siloam Springs history, Hal Millsap IGA Food Liner, Inc., owned by Hal Millsap, opened its doors around the year 1930 on the corner of Mt. Olive and West University Streets, in a building which no longer stands today. The business quickly outgrew its location and needed to move to a larger space. At this point, the store moved into a location on Broadway street which today houses Wellspring Nutrition and Bathe. In 1941, while the store was still at its Broadway location, Grady and Kathleen Lamb both became employees of Mr. Millsap.
In 1946, Millsap IGA once again outgrew its location and moved to a building on East Main Street. This week’s featured photo shows this location in the late 1940’s. A large, neon sign adorns the entrance above the double doors, and a black stripe reading “Hal Millsap IGA Food Liner” runs from the front of the building to the back.
Today, this building is occupied by TC Screen Printing. Established in 2010, the company produces t-shirts and other articles of clothing with custom designs. From its opening until earlier this year, TC Screen Printing was located at 204 S Broadway Street in downtown Siloam Springs. Recently, the company moved into the Millsap IGA building pictured above. The interior of the building was restored and updated, and the exterior will soon return to its historic roots. Based on the 1940's photo, TC Screen Printing plans to incorporate their own logo into a reproduction of the black stripe down the side of the building, bringing its appearance closer to how it looked while it was owned by Mr. Millsap. Other businesses downtown are also showing appreciation for their historic buildings, preserving or restoring original elements as a nod to the past.
Millsap IGA did not stay in the East Main building, however. Around 1963, the Hal Millsap IGA Food Liner moved once again, this time occupying a larger storefront at the intersection of Mount Olive and West Tulsa Streets. Bell Office Supply occupies this space today. Shortly after Millsap’s death in the mid 1960’s, several of his long-time employees, including Grady Lamb, partnered together to ensure that the business carried on under the name IGA. Grady Lamb also became the manager of the store at this time, and Kathleen was the bookkeeper. They would continue to manage the store for years to come.
Around 1980, Grady Lamb became the sole owner of the IGA, and in 1984 he moved the store to its current location on Highway 412. The store continues to thrive in this location today. In 2007, Harps bought the IGA and kept Grady Lamb’s son, Brian, at the helm. He still manages the store, and it continues to provide an important contribution to the community of Siloam Springs.
Through much of the 1900’s, Millsap’s IGA was one of only a handful of grocery stores in Siloam Springs. It provided food for a large portion of the families in town, and thus became an essential part of the town and its culture. Additionally, Hal Millsap and Grady Lamb were both heavily involved in the daily floor operations in the store, as is Brian Lamb today. Their visibility meant that most residents of Siloam Springs knew who they were, if not personally, then at least by appearance. Through their business, the Millsaps and the Lambs were able to provide more to the community than just their goods and services. They were able to help other businesses in Siloam and forge friendships they may not have made otherwise. No matter where you live, local businesses have a unique ability to do good in their communities, and Siloam Springs still maintains a strong local business culture. Before you order online or go to another town to buy your goods, see if a local business has what you’re looking for!
Written by Chuck McClary
Hico, a Heritage: Siloam Springs History by Maggie Smith
TC Screen Printing
Siloam Springs Museum
Siloam Springs Museum archives