Rouses Markets is opening its fifth Alabama today, ending four months of renovations and three weeks of grand openings that began Feb. 9 in Theodore, Ala.
“We’ve been working for months to turn these stores into what customers expect from a Rouses,” says Donny Rouse, manager partner and third-generation owner. “They’ve been renovated top to bottom. Today’s grand opening is in the beach town of Gulf Shores. After a cold February and weeks of store openings, we’re ready to hit the beach.
“Sales in Alabama are extremely strong,” Rouse adds. “We’re selling more boudin and hog’s head cheese in Alabama than we are in New Orleans, and we’ve sold a lot of chicken and andouille gumbo and seafood gumbo.”
Rouse reveals his company is boiling more than 1,000 pounds of Louisiana crawfish in its Alabama stores every day.
“We have our own boiling room right in the store, and our seafood case is stocked with whole Gulf fish, Gulf oysters, crabs and crabmeat, and wild-caught Louisiana shrimp and Florida Royal Red shrimp,” he says.
February also is Mardi Gras season, and parades roll in every community Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses Markets serves. The company bakes more than 300,000 king cakes every season.
“People in Alabama are buying the king cakes as fast as we bake them,” Rouse says.
Just as Mardi Gras is different in Lafayette, La., than in New Orleans or Mobile, every Rouses Market reflects its neighborhood, customers and team members, according to Rouse.
“Each store is local, and has its local ways and favorites,” he adds. “Rouses Markets makes it a point to bring products from one area it serves to other locations on the Gulf Coast. Our customers appreciate local from all over the Gulf Coast, and it’s good for our local vendor partners. We want everyone to grow with us.”
Rouses works with Associated Wholesale Grocers’ (AWG) Gulf Coast Division out of Pearl River, La.
“We’re proud to partner with the best co-op in the country,” says Donald Rouse, second-generation owner. “AWG has been a great partner, and been right here with us in Alabama. AWG works very closely with our team and our local vendors like China Doll and Ziegler Meats, and our customers have immediately taken to their brands. They know if something is in our store, we stand behind it.”
Rouses purchased six stores in Alabama last year through a consortium that AWG formed to acquire the bankrupt Belle Foods chain.
An opening date has not yet been set for Rouses’ sixth Alabama store.
New Rouses Markets are being built in Denham Springs, Lafayette and Gretna, La., and are expected to open later this year, bringing the family-owned and -operated company’s store total to 46.
In the feature photo at top: AWG’s David Smith and Rouses Markets’ Donald Rouse.