ARYGLE FOREST – Politics may be playing a bigger role in the life of the average American citizen than just about any other time in the history of the nation. Everywhere you look, there see hats, bumper stickers, flags, yard signs supporting one side of the political landscape or the other.
That’s never been more evident for one street corner in Clay County.
Richard Simpson is a registered Republican voter and a boiled peanut vendor who has sold salty snacks on the corner of Meadow Bend Drive and Argyle Forest Boulevard for nearly seven years.
About 30 feet away, is Randall Piercy. Piercy is also a Republican, but he doesn’t sell peanuts from his location. He sells Donald Trump merchandise. There are tons of Trump 2020 items such as MAGA (Make America Great Again), and KAG (Keep America Great) merchandise. There are also Trump flags of different varieties, some superimposing the President’s face onto the body of Rambo as pictured in the third of the “Rambo” films, as well as Trump as Captain America.
The differing tones of the signage for the merchandise being sold by the two men make for an interesting juxtaposition.
While Piercy is an unabashed Trump supporter, Simpson takes a much more muted stance. Though he is Republican, his signage clearly states Non-partisan peanuts.
“People come, people go, but then the Trump guy [Piercy] came. I thought it was going to be something that was going to come and go,” said Simpson. “Then it started getting bigger and bigger, and uh, I could feel that it was hurting my business. I had a lot of my customers that wouldn’t cruise up because they thought I was affiliated with the Trump guy.”
As his business began to feel the strain, he put up the new signage “Non-partisan Peanuts.” He also took some advice from his father, whom he said once told him never to mix politics with business or religion. After that, he says, people began to come back and told him that the new signs were the reason for their return.
“I was like, OK. I did something right,” Simpson said. “It was just something I thought would keep me from having to lose this spot after seven years. I’m not standing on this side, or that side. I’m on the peanut side. I’m here just to sell peanuts. I’m not here to tell anybody what to do, who to vote for, or whatever the case may be.”
Piercy says he has been at the location for about three months and that business is doing all right.
“Richard [Simpson] and I are pretty good friends as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “We’re just businessmen, and he's just doing what he’s got to do. He does his thing and I do mine, and we respect each other. My son and I, we set up a little bit off Wells Road and things like that, but we find that here is a really good place, mainly because of the proximity and the view. We get a lot of support.”
Whether you want a non-partisan traditional southern snack of boiled peanuts, you want to show your support for the 45th president of the United States, or both, the corner of Meadow Bend Drive and Argyle Forest Boulevard is your spot.