Pandemic Pick: What Locally Owned Grocery Store Came Through for You? | Food + Drink Features | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Food + Drink » Food + Drink Features

Pandemic Pick: What Locally Owned Grocery Store Came Through for You?

Compiled by

Customers awaiting porch pickup at Craftsbury General Store - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Customers awaiting porch pickup at Craftsbury General Store

Is there anything grocers haven't done for us these past 15 months? Vermonters piled praise upon supermarkets, co-ops and general stores alike for their myriad pandemic pivots that kept us safe and well stocked.

Curbside pickup at Montpelier's Hunger Mountain Co-op made "those of us older and higher-risk people feel so lucky and protected," said one shopper. "It took the anxiety away. I can't imagine what pandemic shopping without this service would have been like." Another agreed: "They deserve a parade and many medals of honor."

"Without the Jericho Center Country Store, our lives would have been much more isolated and lonely," another shopper weighed in. "The cooks and clerks always asked, as did Jon St. Amour, the owner, what they might do for me, since I am 83 and live alone down the street from the store."

City Market, Onion River Co-op in Burlington "offered protective gloves and hand sanitizer to everyone for free" and "paid a security company to count people upon entry," noted two shoppers. In February, when the downtown location closed for a weekend due to staffing issues related to an employee's positive COVID-19 test, the co-op demonstrated "clear communication" and "a dedication to safety for both staff and patrons."

In a year of racial reckoning, Sweet Clover Market in Essex Junction "made the decision that tips for drivers and staff would be collected and redistributed to local nonprofits and their anti-racist initiative," offered one reader. The market is matching customer donations for six organizations, including the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance and the Peace & Justice Center, up to $5,000.

Craftsbury General Store in rural Orleans County "stayed open [and] made deliveries to people who could not get to the store," observed one customer, who called it "an amazing pivot to keep food available in the community, where the [next] nearest store is a good half-hour drive away."

Another reader expressed a widespread sentiment: "Much love and gratitude to all of the frontline staff at all of the supermarkets."

Editor note: To choose Vermont's Pandemic All-Stars, we surveyed our readers on the people, places and programs that kept them going — and going — during the COVID-19 pandemic. Space limitations prevented us from recognizing every pick worthy of public praise.