In the wee hours of Friday, March 20, 2020, tragedy struck the small town of San Saba, Texas as a fire was discovered shortly after midnight at the only grocery store in town, Lowe’s Market.
The local volunteer fire department, along with those from several neighboring communities, fought the blaze through the night and into the next day. Unfortunately, they could not extinguish it and the store was deemed a total loss.
Couple the destroyed store with the nationwide shortage that grocery stores were experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lowe’s understood townsfolks’ angst.
Roger Lowe Jr. and several key leaders from his company met with city and county officials and committed to doing whatever it took to get a replacement store opened quickly.
What transpired during the course of the next seven days is “nothing short of a miracle,” according to the company.
Al and Kay Stowell of San Saba met Roger Lowe Jr. the morning of the fire and agreed to lease their building to Lowe’s as a replacement store site.
“The commitment and devotion to the well-being of San Saba shown by Al and Kay on the morning that I met them, helped us get our replacement store up and running as quickly as we did,” Lowe Jr. recalled.
Additional planning began to transform the small, empty, cinder block building on the city square into a fully functioning grocery store and the goal was to do it as fast as possible.
The planning was finalized by March 23 and the pieces were put into place to make this tall task a reality. The next four days involved constant work.
Many people and companies pulled together to make the store a reality. They included:
- San Saba city and county officials. San Saba Mayor Ken Jordan stated, “To see everyone come together like they did, it’s just amazing the unity that we had. Everyone was willing to help as many hours as needed to get the job done.”
- Vendor community. Lowe’s Market refers to its vendors as “pardners.” Many of these partners stepped up and helped in numerous ways during the development of the replacement store in San Saba. Some spent the entire week in San Saba helping wherever needed.
- Volunteers. The list of those who helped make the San Saba Lowe’s replacement store a reality is lengthy, but one specific group Lowe’s mentioned was the Texas Hunters for Heroes – San Saba Texas Chapter.
- Teammates. Lowe’s refers to its employees as “teammates,” knowing they are key to the grocer’s success.
Today, there is a new, larger grocery store to better serve the San Saba community.
In the meantime, the story of the San Saba fire and its response drew recognition from U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway on his Facebook page.
“There is no stronger testimony of true rural American grit, tenacity and community than the incredible comeback of San Saba’s Lowe’s Market,” he wrote. “The store burned at the same time [the] COVID-19 panic swept grocery store shelves. Within seven days of its total loss, thanks to hundreds of Texans and countless answered prayers, the main food source for San Saba rose from the ashes.”
For more information, visit lowesmarket.com.