BONIFAY, Fla. (WJHG) - Many Floridians flock to Alabama to buy fireworks, but there’s one item that sparks the interest of many Alabamians, who cross the state line to buy here: lottery tickets. And one particular store is reaping the rewards.
Many consider Friendly Mini Mart in Bonifay as not only having friendly service, but lucky as well.
“They’re wonderful,” said Lisa Taylor from Elba, Alabama.
“We are the lucky spot, and the friendly store,” said co-owner Jose Martinez.
And the numbers back up Martinez’s claim.
“We sold a $5 ticket here for $1 million," said Martinez. "We sold a $20 ticket here for $500,000.”
Friendly Mini Mart is less than a mile from the Alabama state line off Highway 79.
“This is like, a little hometown place right [a]cross the road from us, almost from rock throwing distance," said Larry Hillard of Hartford, Alabama.
And because Alabama doesn’t sell lottery tickets, residents go to where they do.
“I play the Powerball, Mega Millions, Fantasy 5, play it all right there,” said one customer from Alabama.
“It’s a chance I gotta take [to play and win],” said Taylor.
Despite its remote location, Friendly Mini Mart is among the state’s winningest stores. Last fiscal year, they ranked 8th for lottery tickets worth $600 or more. They had 74.
“It make me feel so good!” said Jose's wife and co-owner Fe Martinez. "Because you know they’ve been spending their money every day. Every time they come here, and sometime they don’t win nothing, and when they sometimes win a big prize I say, 'Yes, they got their money back!'”
“I’ve had good luck here with the scratch-offs and all right there,” said one customer.
“We [are] happy when people win because if they don’t win, we don’t win," said Jose Martinez. "We don’t make no money if they don’t win.”
Out of more than 13,000 retailers in the state that sell lottery tickets, Friendly Mini Mart ranks third in sales, selling $4,017,700.50 worth of numbers last fiscal year alone.
“We were so happy when we saw that news, because we knew we sold a lot of lottery [tickets], but we didn’t know we were one of the top ones,” said Fe Martinez.
“People from all over the state come here, not only from the state of Alabama and the state of Florida, there is people that come here from Georgia all the way down here to try their luck,” said Jose Martinez. “When we have big jackpots, we have thousands of people a day in this store."
And when the jackpots for the Powerball and Mega Millions reach several hundred million dollars, the owners brace for a run on the market. A run that could change someone’s life. And a run that also offers a friendly reminder: You can’t win if you don’t play.
“Wish me luck! Round two!” said an excited customer as she exited with tickets in hand.
The Stateline Gift Shop in McDavid, Florida led all stores in lottery sales with $4.8 million worth of tickets sold last fiscal year, while Panhandle Package Number One in Campbellton came in second boasting $4.2 million in sales.