Overflow grocery shoppers flood stores

South City Market shuttered for remodeling until June 17

Fred Gerbode browses for last-minute items at the checkout in north City Market. Grocery shoppers should expect congested parking lots and long checkout lines as overflow from south City Market, closed for remodeling, looks for other options. Enlarge photo

ISAIAH BRANCH-BOYLE/Durango Herald

Fred Gerbode browses for last-minute items at the checkout in north City Market. Grocery shoppers should expect congested parking lots and long checkout lines as overflow from south City Market, closed for remodeling, looks for other options.

The two-week closure of south City Market for remodeling has created something of a bottleneck at other Durango grocery stores.

Employees and shoppers at Albertsons and north City Market both reported an increase in customer volume since construction began.

Natural Grocers, a health food store across Camino del Rio from south City Market, also has seen more customers despite normally serving a different clientele than larger, conventional supermarkets.

“At first, people were passing us by, but then they gave up and started coming here (for the convenient location),” Natural Grocers employee Laura Caughey said. “Hopefully, some will keep coming back.”

Albertsons and north City Market have ordered larger shipments of food to meet demand. Shelves at both stores appeared well-stocked Thursday.

Customer satisfaction was relatively high at noon Thursday, but shoppers did report several inconveniences, including long checkout lines and a congested parking lot at north City Market.

Dee Dee DeHaro lives on East Second Avenue, which runs directly to the east of north City Market. She said that with the parking lot full to capacity, overflow shoppers were parking on the street in front of her home. And when she went to the market, she was overwhelmed by the number of shoppers.

“I left yesterday because it was too crazy,” she said.

Fellow shopper LaVonne Stevens concurred that parking was a problem.

“It’s tough to find a spot,” she said.

Employees at north City Market said customer traffic has been especially high during evening and weekend hours.

“We’re doing the best we can to keep people happy. I haven’t seen many outraged customers so far,” said employee Clarence Aveyta.

Marcie Morgan and Tom Molinelli, browsing the aisles with a full cart in tow, had little to complain about.

“For this time of year, and with their other store closed, they’re doing a good job. I’m a happy customer,” Molinelli said.

Several south City Market employees have been transferred to the north location temporarily to help with stocking, and two mobile self-checkout kiosks are available for use during peak hours.

Bakers at north City Market were working full speed to satisfy customer cravings for sweets.

“More doughnuts, more cake orders, more bread, more everything,” said bakery manager Michaela Padilla.

While the bakery didn’t receive any reinforcements, Padilla maintained her staff were up to the task.

“We’re too good. We don’t need extra help,” she said, laughing.

South City Market is scheduled to reopen its doors at 6 p.m. June 17.

The floor plan is being redesigned to resemble newer stores in the City Market/King Soopers chain, with produce moved closer to the entrance. Until then, the pharmacy will continue to operate and fill prescriptions out of a door on the store’s north side.

lgroskopf@durangoherald.com