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At Wilson’s, everyone’s got a first name

Rhonda and Roy Wilson have owned their small Orrick grocery store for a decade and gotten to know almost all their customers by name. The owners say personal service, small-town loyalty and specialties like popular fresh-cut hamburger allow them to compete with large chains.

Rhonda and Roy Wilson have owned their small Orrick grocery store for a decade and gotten to know almost all their customers by name. The owners say personal service, small-town loyalty and specialties like popular fresh-cut hamburger allow them to compete with large chains.

By David Knopf/Richmond News

How Snuggles and his brother Max, longhair Maine Coon cats, wound up in Orrick is anyone’s guess. But they’ve found a comfortable home for themselves at Wilson’s Grocery.

Rhonda and Roy Wilson, the owners, feed the former strays in front of the store and put cozy igloo shelters for them out back. It was Snuggles who surveyed the scene last week when Dale O’Dell, a regular, stopped in.

“Hello, Dale,” said Rhonda, who usually works the cash register and front counter while her husband, a former truck driver, cuts meat or gets orders ready in the back.

Small-town friendliness come naturally for Rhonda, who grew up in Lawson, and Roy, who was born and raised in Orrick, graduating high school here in 1974

“One of my big things is greeting everyone who walks in,” she said.

O’Dell, Rhonda and Roy talk a bit at the counter as she rings up his four bags of groceries. He’s buying more than the usual and explains that he’s bringing food to the home of friends who recently experienced a death in the family.

Many who drop by Wilson’s each morning come in for coffee, pop, one of Rhonda’s fresh-baked donuts or a breakfast sandwich. The grocery makes the sandwiches fresh, and they’ve been popular.

Only recently, the store was required to print ingredient labels for the sandwiches, a requirement that cost them $2,500 – a big hit for a little store. But the Wilsons can also use the machel to label their meats, including fresh-ground hamburger, an item Rhonda says customers drive miles for.

Roy also cuts roasts and stew meat, and in the summer puts out his own steak and pork chops for grilling. It’s all part of catering to local customers and their preferences, a must for a small grocery that competes against the Walmarts and Price Choppers of the world.

“A lot of people like our hamburger,” said Rhonda, who chats in between customers after Roy and the man who sold the Wilsons their labeler talk in back. “We have one lady who comes in and says she used to cook Price Chopper hamburger but she says she can’t eat it any more because she likes ours more.”

Some customers come from as far away as Excelsior Springs, Liberty and Missouri City, Rhonda said, although the store depends mostly on the Orrick-Fleming-Camden trade.

“A lot of it is convenience,” said Roy. “They’ll come in after work and buy this and that. Others will just come in and buy their groceries. Some just appreciate us and want to keep us here.”

 

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