Mobile, Alabama-based Greer’s Markets is entering its 106th year of business in 2022. The company has stayed in the Greer family, and four members of the fifth generation recently helped design and build a new concept store in downtown Mobile.
Greer’s St. Louis Market is named for its location on St. Louis Street. The new market was built in an old building just a few blocks from the site of Greer’s original store, which is no longer there. Being so close to the company’s beginning made the location “even more special,” said Lucy Greer, company spokesperson and VP of deli/bakery operations.
“Greer’s St. Louis Market opened Aug. 20 of 2021. We’ve been at it for about five months,” she said. “We do have another location in downtown Mobile, but it is farther south.”
Another factor in locating on St. Louis Street was the “surge of people and organizations trying to revitalize that area of downtown.”
The street was incorporated into the market name in recognition of the development on that street and in the area.
“In order to get more residents and have more development down there, a grocery store really was kind of the missing link. We felt like it was just a great time for us to work on this new concept of a market that we had kind of been wanting to do, and it just worked out. Everything kind of fell into place for us to branch out from our typical model in our hometown and really be a part of that revitalization,” she said.
The new market is more urban than what the company usually operates and the space in the building was a consideration.
“It caused us to really be thoughtful because of the space restrictions,” Greer said. “We had to use every inch of the store in order to put that variety in there for people. The community that this store serves is a little bit different, as well. There’s a lot of business customers and visitor-type customers and also a little bit of residential. So being able to combine a lot of different customers into one was a little bit of a challenge.”
Greer said the response to the new market has been “incredible,” receiving positive feedback from the customers who live and work in the area. It also has attracted shoppers from other areas of Mobile and beyond.
“It’s become a destination point for other areas of the city, plus what we call ‘over the bay’ – Baldwin County,” she said. “So customers from Baldwin County are coming, customers from West Mobile and other areas of Mobile are coming.”
One thing customers are coming for is an attraction not found in a typical grocery store. Greer’s St. Louis Market has a rooftop that looks over the skyline of Mobile, and the sunsets viewed from there are “gorgeous,” Greer said.
“The rooftop has been the most popular spot we have. We serve beer and wine, and we have happy hour,” she said. “It’s been a great meeting spot for people after work and just kind of that nightlife that people are enjoying.”
The market has a “heavy emphasis” on ready-to-eat food and also has a kitchen serving a variety of food. It is a full grocery store, with produce, meat and seafood and more grocery staples in the center of the store. But it’s the perimeter, where the bakery, coffee shop, kitchen and beer and wine are located that have been the areas “people have taken to,” Greer said.
Opening a store, much less a new concept, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic was not without its obstacles. The old building had to undergo an extensive remodel and, due to the pandemic, “everything seemed a little bit slower,” said Greer, adding that the project’s time frame was delayed almost a full year.
The company was able to hire “very, very good people in a time of extreme hurt in the economy,” she said. “We actually had a lot of silver linings and a lot of blessings, even though we were right in the middle of the pandemic.”
The company has fared well as far as staff and in-store management positions go, Greer said.
“We have been lucky. Just like the rest of the country, our hourly positions have been a little bit more of a challenge, but really, overall, our company has fared a lot better than others that that we hear of.”
One of the biggest challenges Greer’s Markets has faced is common throughout the industry – supply chain issues. The company primarily buys from AWG out of Pearl River, and “they have done absolutely the best they can,” Greer said. “Our relationship with them, I feel, has gotten a little bit stronger as everybody has pulled together.”
The challenges also have given the company an opportunity to work with some other suppliers and create new relationships, “which is always a good thing.”
Greer’s Markets operates 29 stores in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
The company has been “proud of the outcome and the response that we’ve gotten from the community” on the new concept store, said Greer, adding that it is planning to put similar stores in some different areas. Those locations have not yet been announced.
For more information, visit greers.com.