Grocers brace themselves for big day

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Juneau residents may begin preparing for this year's Thanksgiving feast today, but produce managers at local grocery stores started weeks ago.

"It is the biggest produce day of the year," said Ted Heslin, produce manager at Rainbow Foods downtown. "I always say that flower shops have Mother's Day and produce managers have Thanksgiving."

Rainbow Foods stocked up on the basic Thanksgiving meal staples: carrots, celery and potatoes, among other things.

But the store also has sold a good amount of celery root - "people cut it in half, peel it and put it in a soup stock to use for turkey soup the day after Thanksgiving," Heslin said - plus collard greens and fresh sage.

Apples are another product moving quickly through the store. Heslin left a full case of Granny Smith apples when he clocked out of the store at 5:15 Monday. By the time he got back the next morning the case was empty. He thinks he has enough apples to last through the holiday, though.

"I'm a little worried about running out of pints of fresh cranberries, actually," he said.

Persimmons, pomegranates and satsumas have been popular fruits this Thanksgiving, said Jonathan Cristobal, produce manager at Alaskan and Proud downtown.

"Persimmons are starting to get famous here," he said. "Just recently the people are starting to notice how good persimmons are."

Most of Alaskan and Proud's Thanksgiving produce arrived last week, with a booster shipment arriving Monday, Cristobal said.

After the holiday, the store won't get another produce shipment for a few days to account for the marked decline in grocery shopping that happens the two days after Thanksgiving, Cristobal said.

Safeway, in the Valley, got its big produce shipment Monday and will receive another before Thanksgiving, said the store's produce manager, James Ackerman. On Sunday the store ran out of celery, but Monday's shipment replenished supplies.

"If you don't have celery, you might as well shut your store down," Ackerman said. He stocks up on all of his produce for the holiday.

"There are so many different recipes out there now and ... if you don't have produce you don't have it," he said. "Produce goes in everything - inside the turkey, outside the turkey, in the dressing, snacks, desserts."

Although people try to get shopping done early, today is inevitably the biggest shopping day for the holiday, Ackerman said.

"You get some people coming in on Thursday but not as many," he said.

Safeway will be open until midnight tonight and from 6 a.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving. Fred Meyer will be open until 11 p.m. Today and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thanksgiving. Alaskan and Proud will close at 10 p.m. today and be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Super Bear will be open until 11 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Rainbow Foods will close at 7 p.m. today and open again at 9 a.m. Friday.

• Christine Schmid can be reached at

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