Small-town grocer responds to needs in height of crisis
There's a lot to be said about a small-town grocer, remarked a customer of Vandal's Family Market in Blooming Prairie.
"They are responding to the public's needs," said this loyal customer.
Vandal's was there when people were running out of toilet paper and other necessities of life. They were "running scared" because of the threat of the coronavirus, said store owner Brandy Vandal-Holmberg.
"Toilet paper has been the most sought after commodity but everything in the store has been taken off the shelves by our customers," commented Waco Vandal, part owner.
"I have to go back and make some more hamburger," said Waco, pointing out that this would be the third time during this day that he has had to make another batch of hamburger. He said he typically makes it only once a day.
"It's been crazy," acknowledged Brady Holmberg, another family owner. "There's not a square in the store," Holmberg said, relating that they had TP stocked to the ceiling. It was gone in 6 1/2 hours, he said.
With the closing of school early in the week, Holmberg said there was a rush on breakfast cereals and frozen pizzas.
Customers were also buying out all the hand sanitizers and disinfectants still in the store. "We can't get any more sanitizer until the end of the month," Holmberg said.
The store owners said during this rush on products, they had never seen so many people in the store. "Over a four-day period, our sales were 2 1/2 times the norm," said Waco. Many customers are first-timers, they report.
Waco, Brady and Brandy said they have an advantage over the big, box stores in that they can request an emergency truck of product from their supplier, Spartan Nash of St. Cloud. "Our system is better than a lot of stores' suppliers," said Waco.
"We got a new shipment of milk and in two hours I was out of 2%," said Waco.
Brandy said she and husband Brady often tease one another that they are crazy to be in the food business. "Now, the pandemic has put us even more into the business," she said.
Many loyal customers have been thankful to Waco, Brandy and Brady for having groceries on the shelf. The three family grocery store owners are hopeful that things will soon get back to the old normal.