1 Year in the life of COVID, the experiences of a small town grocery market.
From the beginning of the current ownership of the St. Vrain Market in 2009, and quite possibly for its entire Lyons history, it has always been about community. So, whether its high water in the 2013 floods or pandemic mask mandates and wild fires in 2020, it has always been and will be about serving our community. As I look at the St. Vrain Market COVID safety protocols that were implemented by yours truly and still in force today, one year later, we as business owners are thankful for the support we have received from our staff and community to get us through these awfully difficult times. More difficult on many others than ourselves in fact. Our business was not only able to remain open but was deemed “essential” by local, state and federal mandates.
Those early weeks of the Pandemic are etched most deeply in the minds of our business. When toilet paper and sanitizer were in short supply, when basic proteins, produce and staples were in fast depleting quantities, when staffing became quickly limited but demand for food and provisions skyrocketed. We engaged in what felt like daily purchasing warfare with the likes of big grocers we share regional distribution with like Sprouts, Lucky’s and Whole Foods. We were advocating and battling on behalf of our community, which is in many ways more isolated than other communities that have multiple grocers on every street corner. We knew what the stakes were and we knew we needed to win that battle.
Our community was grateful and said so in their words and their actions, literally choosing to purchase only 2 bananas for a family of 4 so others could have some. Our staff spent countless hours repackaging bulk purchases of staples like flour, beans, rice and more to keep items on the shelves, while typical retail packaging warehouses were shutting down due to COVID outbreaks. Our staff stepped into the unforgiving role of mask and social distance police because they understood the risks to the community and to themselves and their families. We will never forget nor wane in our appreciation for their bravery and service to this community.
Those early months of the pandemic were not just difficult to manage a business through but were emotionally difficult to watch our fellow local businesses close their doors and/or pivot into newly attempted service models to keep themselves afloat and keep their employees’ earnings positive. We were thus moved to take our earnings from those first pandemic months of manic purchasing at the St. Vrain Market and create a “Lyons Share” grant fund in partnership with the Lyons Community Foundation that would provide grants to ALL local Lyons businesses. The community had created this financial opportunity, and we were simply distributing it. It has always been and will always be about the community. We recognize we were fortunate to be asked to operate our business during times others could not, we recognize the strength of our staff and our business when hard work is needed, and we once again, recognize the support of our Lyons community; a community where the option to retract or fail is not an option. With great appreciation, your local St Vrain Market.
………….Neil Sullivan, co-owner St. Vrain Market