More customers, fewer crowds: Corner groceries navigate spike in demand

At LeGrand’s Market & Catering, the old red Tomboy sign still hangs above the dark-green awning, a reminder of the St. Louis Hills landmark that opened in 1936. Hand-lettered posters in the front windows advertise fresh cod fillets and corned beef dinners.

The store’s nostalgic look was reflected in its unhurried pace. Until recently.

“Everything was going at the same time,” said Jim LeGrand Jr., of the onslaught of shoppers that started accelerating in mid-March.

Meat sales doubled. The store stacked pyramids of extra toilet paper onto the Formica kitchen tables they no longer can use for eat-in customers.

LeGrand and his parents, who have owned the market since 1987, installed plexiglass panels in front of the checkout lanes and deli, texted suppliers to keep shelves stocked and invited a local bakery to open a pop-up shop in what had been the dining area.


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