Grant Street Grocery in Casper, Wyoming, is 104 years old. But the historic business may not have made it to the century mark if not for the intervention of some residents in the city’s Big Tree neighborhood, where it is located.
Lindsey Grant, who co-owns the specialty grocery store with her partner Susan Holmes, said they purchased it in 2015 after it had closed. Grant, Holmes and two other neighbors came together to renovate the building.
The Big Tree neighborhood is near downtown Casper. It’s a mostly residential area, featuring homes dating back to the early 1900s through the 1930s.
“None of us had, in particular, any grocery experience,” Grant said. “But we had a desire to see Grant Street continue for another 100 years.”
The new owners celebrated the 100th anniversary of the business in 2018. Renovations to the building included modernizing and updating the infrastructure and adding a commercial kitchen. According to Grant, the business model also was updated to “be a little bit different than just a neighborhood grocery store that sold pantry basics. Most people are going to go to their big box stores for something like that.”
“We certainly knew that we needed to be something different and special,” she said, adding they wanted to focus on specialty products and house-made goods, as well as special events.
Additional changes came when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As many people started cooking more at home, Grant said they “did a lot of cooking for those grab-and-go meals,” as well as started carrying produce, which it had not offered prior to the pandemic.
“That just wasn’t part of our business model,” she added. “But that became something people were looking for, because they were either not able to shop in the big stores or they didn’t want to…so we just listened to our customers about what they needed and tried to provide everything that we possible could for them to support the community.”
As the pandemic waned, Grant said people again started buying their produce at the bigger stores and Grant Street Grocery stopped carrying it. The store again is focusing on the “unique, curated shopping experience” for which it’s known.
Grant conducts a lot of research and independent shopping to find products not available in Casper or other Wyoming towns. This includes flavors, high quality ingredients, North American-made products and European goods.
“It’s highly curated from that perspective,” she said.
Other items are made in the store kitchen. Grant said they also carry an array of cheeses and have a butcher department for making sausages, hamburgers and marinated meats that may not be found at a larger store.
Supply chain issues have carried over from the pandemic, and Grant said every week something is unavailable or priced too high. The store has not carried scallops since early 2020, when the price went up significantly. They also have experienced “a pork crisis and a beef crisis and all kinds of different things that go in and out of demand or production…so we just did our best to accommodate what we could at the time.”
As for labor, the staff has fluctuated from six to 16 employees. They now have 10, having just hired three workers.
“We’ve been short-staffed for quite some time,” she said. “Staffing has been pretty hard over the last even nine months. It’s been hard to find some folks, so it’s good to find some new people.”
Grant Street Grocery supports local organizations in town. “We do try to help the organizations that are near and dear to our hearts as ownership or through our employees – what’s important to them,” Grant explained. “We kind of look to see what they are recommending…to support when it comes to a charitable contribution.”
One of the aspects of ownership Grant loves is getting acquainted with customers. For some, the staff knows their drink orders by heart and have their coffee ready before they get out of the car, she said. They also try to check in on regular customers, even delivering meals to those who aren’t able to travel due to illness or other causes.
“We just try to make sure that we can help everybody out as much as possible and make it that personal touch for customers as they shop at Grant Street,” she said.
Another perk is getting to try “all the lovely food that we make, and that’s a pretty solid bonus. Being somebody who is a foodie and likes to share good food and share meals with people, that’s probably my favorite thing is getting people to try something different or experience a different cheese that they’re not used to.”
Looking to the future, potential plans include using online technology and implementing some new things to support the “very unique business, as it is sort of off the beaten path.” Grant said they do get some out-of-town customers who found the store on social media. “It’s really neat to get to meet people from all over the country.”
Owning and operating the store has been a labor of love for Grant.
“It’s very much been a learning experience,” she said. “And the things that I didn’t know, I do know now, and I continue to learn. So it’s been interesting, for sure.”
The pandemic period presented new challenges, but Grant was happy they were able to help people through that time, “especially those early difficult months. It’s been a roller coaster of a couple of years as an independent grocer, for sure.”
For more information, visit grantstgrocery.com.