Mon, Feb. 24

Verde Heritage 1971: SEDONA; The Grasshopper Shopper Opens


"By Elizabeth Rigby"

"For better or for worse, big-town grocery operation has come to the unincorporated community of Sedona, and most people seem to think it is for better."

"Nobody knows how many people converged on the Grasshopper Shopper in West Sedona on its opening day last Thursday, but it was certainly many hundreds. Before the 12-hour day, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., was over, every bit of produce had been sold, reports Mrs. Anne Thomas, store co-owner with her husband Jim."

"Mrs. Thomas, produce manager, said the next day, 'I had to put in an emergency call to our distributor in Phoenix to get a fresh supply for Friday.'"

"The Grasshopper Shopper is Sedona's fifth grocery store, and it is by far the largest. The store is set back more than 150 feet from U.S.-89A. The 105,000-square-foot parking area, 150 feet deep, 700 feet long, can accommodate 175 cars, and it was full to overflowing all day long on opening day. Provided with several wide exit-entrance ways, the black-topped parking area is efficiently marked for guiding traffic."

"The exterior of the building is of beige slump block, faced in part with black wooded strips in Western false-front style. Behind is the grocery with its 18,000 square feet of floor space, and the new Totem Department Store with 12,000 square feet. The Totem, held under a long lease by the Thomases, opened last Friday. It can be entered directly from the parking lot, or, inside, from the Grasshopper Shopper. The Manager is Dick Whitcomb."

"The first thing one notices upon entering the grocery store are the large, colorful, and amusing murals executed by Mrs. Thomas herself, and the strings of gold-colored hanging lights in front of the checkout stations. There are 6 stations now, and there will be 8, a feature which should serve to prevent long waiting lines."

"Eliciting enthusiastic comments from many shoppers were the wide aisles and the modern shopping carts of a type not hitherto seen in Sedona. Also winning kudos where the arrangement and variety of the merchandise."

"Of the opening day crowd and the fact that most had come to buy as well as look, Mrs. Thomas said later, 'We were overwhelmed by the response. We truly had not expected anything like it.'"

"Long before the opening, the Thomases had advertised in local newspapers asking members of the community to tell them what features they would like the new store to contain and what merchandise they would like to see stocked. Mrs. Thomas says, 'We are still welcoming suggestions. For example, we have a section for dietetic and natural foods, and we'd like to have people on diets tell us what they need. For overall suggestions, we intend to put out a book in which customers can write down their wants.'"

"At one end of the store is a stockade-enclosed triangular space that has puzzled many customers. Some think it will be a coffee shop. Not so. Empty now, it will eventually house an import gift and specialty shop."

"The sacking is being done by a crew of young girls. 'We think they are likely to be more careful than the boys,' Mrs. Thomas says. The carry-out operation falls in the male province, however, and follows a new system whereby numbered carts are used to take the groceries to a pickup point outside the store, and an outside load boy puts the packages into the cars as these are driven up in the yellow-marked lane."

"The Grasshopper Shopper, which will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, is operating under a plan whereby employees will share in the store's profits. They also receive medical insurance coverage."

"Sid Granger, of Sedona, is assistant manager. Evert Vanerstrom, of Cottonwood, is meat manager. Meat wrappers are Cleo McEntarfer, Elsie McCray, and Lena Dickie, all of Sedona. In produce, Mrs. Thomas is assisted by Gladys Johnson, also of Sedona. Cashiers are Rozella Montgomery, of Cottonwood, and Aileene Lehman, Felton Berold, Ruth Coleman, Mildred Worley, Norine Coleman, Neoma Craddock, Elizabeth Hays, and Artie Masey, all of Sedona. Cecil Lehman and George Bateman, both of Sedona, are in charge of stock replenishment. Carry-out boys are John Duke, Terry Harris, and Wayne Hoese. Sacking girls are Georgia Reed and Bridgit Hoese."

"The leveled space to the east of the Grasshopper Shopper and Totem Department Store also belongs to the Thomases but has not yet been assigned for use yet."

"The Thomases moved to Sedona last August from Olean, New York. He had owned and operated groceries in western New York State and northern Pennsylvania for 30 years. They own 16 acres on Soldier Pass Road and are building a home there. They have one daughter, Cameron, 8, who attends Cottonwood School."

(The Verde Independent: Cottonwood; Wednesday, June 16, 1971; page 1.)

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