Tommy Pate

Tommy Pate

Class of 2004

Tommy was born in 1949 in Mena, AR. After attending Van Cove High School, he graduated from Southern State College, in Magnolia, AR, and attended Draughon School of Business in Little Rock.

He married Alice in 1967, and together they have a son, Bryan.

Tommy began his professional career as a store manager at Katz Drug Co. in Kansas City. In 1969 he began his candy buying career at Magic Mart Sterling Stores, Inc., and fondly recalls the day in October 1974 when his manager handed him full responsibility for the candy department.

“My emotions were fear, anxiety, excitement and determination to succeed,” Tommy says. He adds Frank Bauer, his supervisor and friend at Magic Mart, has served as a lifelong influence. “Mr. Bauer encouraged me to be confident and to pursue higher goals for my career,” Tommy says.

After a brief stint in the early 1980s as a HBA buyer for another chain, Tommy returned to his preferred category in 1983 at Fred’s Inc. in Memphis. At the time of his induction, he served as senior merchandise manager for candy, as well as food, beverages and tobacco.

For buyers, Tommy offers five rules for success: 1.) Be honest and maintain integrity; 2.) Treat everyone honestly and fairly; 3.) Consider all products and vendors with an open mind; 4.) Be truthful with your vendors; and 5.) Learn from everyone you meet.

Among Tommy’s hobbies are collecting sports cards and memorabilia and doting on his granddaughter, Devin. His awards include being named Storck USA’s 1997 Merchandiser of the Yea