'It’s all about the community,' Lonigro finds creative ways to keep his shelves stocked

By Linda Trest, Staff Writer
Posted 3/25/20

Lonigro’s Supermarket is open, stocked and busier than ever. This is thanks in part to Larry Lonigro and his staff wasting no time in putting into place procedures to keep the public healthy …

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'It’s all about the community,' Lonigro finds creative ways to keep his shelves stocked

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Lonigro’s Supermarket is open, stocked and busier than ever. This is thanks in part to Larry Lonigro and his staff wasting no time in putting into place procedures to keep the public healthy and fed during the coronavirus scare.

Lonigro says, thanks to his connections with restaurant suppliers, he has been able to keep his store stocked with meat, produce and dairy products. Recently he began buying produce directly from Produce Row in St. Louis three times a week to keep an adequate supply on hand. Milk shipments are coming in steadily. As for meat, Lonigro says he has more than he can keep cut and on display.

His regular supplier can only ship what is available to them. Due to the uncertainty, his warehouse made the call to discontinue the grocery inserts that many people came to depend on. “They are just not sure what may be available from week to week,” Lonigro said.

While the basics are plentiful at Lonigro’s, other items are not. Ice cream is hard to come by, but there is plenty of frozen pizza.

The store gets six trays of bread daily. Even with a limit of two per customer, the bread is gone in an hour. Lonigro now supplements with bread delivered by Bitali’s, a bakery from The Hill in St. Louis.

Flour and frozen vegetables were items that weren’t available from his regular supplier. Lonigro used his restaurant contacts to buy in bulk, then repackages the items in-house.

When no lunch meat arrived in his shipment, Lonigro had his deli department slice and package cold cuts from the deli case.

“The quality of these items is as good or better than people are used to,” Lonigro says with assurance.

Several new practices have been put into place following the corona virus concerns.

Lonigro is no longer ordering cigarettes or cleaning supplies. He sends customers to the local Dollar General for those as he concentrates on groceries. He notes the manager at Dollar General sends customers to him when their milk or egg supplies run out.

“It’s all about the community,” Lonigro emphasizes. His employees agree as they have gone above and beyond in assisting customers and keeping the store sanitized. “I’m so grateful to have them,” he notes.

A new service provided is call in orders. Customers can now call the store, a clerk will do their shopping, package the order and call the customer when the order is ready to be picked up. When the customers arrives at the store, they can call to alert the staff and the order will be carted out their vehicle. A list of volunteers who will deliver groceries to those who can’t get to the store, is also available.

Lonigro stresses that prices will only increase if his prices increase.

Lonigro has custom-ordered Plexiglas dividers to minimize contact between staff and customers at the deli and check out. He says health guidelines recommend shoppers maintain a distance of 10 cart lengths from each other in the store.

Each day is a new adventure now in the grocery business. By wasting no time in planning and adapting, Lonigro has been able to keep his town supplied with food when larger stores in larger towns have bare shelves.

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