EARLY "Good morning. Welcome to Big G."

Standing at one of the two cash registers at the front of Early's new, long-anticipated grocery store, Big G Grocery employee Tracey McKee called out the greeting repeatedly as customers entered the store Wednesday morning.

"We're open for business," McKee told a customer.

Customers typically returned greetings from McKee and other employees as they prepared to shop.

The store opened its doors to customers for the first time Wednesday, and at some point in the store as they entered, as they shopped, as they checked out many of the customers expressed how glad they are that Early finally has a grocery store.

"It's been a long time overdue," McKee said in between customers at her register.

Big G Grocery is located at 800 Early Boulevard, the former home of the Alamo Feed Store. For the past several months, the building had been undergoing a remodeling as owner Alan Jenkins prepared to open Early's first-ever grocery store. Another Big G Grocery is located on Highway 279 in the Lake Brownwood area.

"I love it. I love it. Isn't this great?" customer Judy Shaw of Early said. "You've got everything you need here. I'll take my walks in the springtime and come here and get my stuff."

The Early store is the largest of the two locations. The store's offerings include a large deli with a variety of meats, cheeses and prepared food, as well as a drive-thru window.

The store will be open seven days a week, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Shopping Wednesday, Wanda and Dean Singleton of Brownwood said they were passing by and decided to stop at the store.

"I think this is going to go over good. I really do," Wanda Singleton said. "We needed a store out here and I'm glad to see that they've got one now.

"It's so neat. Everything looks so good. The vegetables look fresh. It's just really nice. I'm glad to see they have a fresh meat market."