Smaller grocers fill neighborhood roles

Domenik Winstead stocks the shelves at Andy's Affiliated Foods recently. (Jay Pickthorn/Argus Leader Media)
Domenik Winstead stocks the shelves at Andy’s Affiliated Foods recently. (Jay Pickthorn/Argus Leader Media)

If the family grocery industry had a face, it would belong to someone like Sharon Maltwitz.

A petite woman with seemingly endless energy, she can name the exact moment she started work at Andy’s Affiliated Foods – “It was 40 years ago Aug. 24 at 9 a.m.” – while struggling to say what her title actually is.

“I do a little bit of everything,” she said. “We go the extra mile for our customer. We’ll jump in and do it.”

She stops midthought.

“Come here, you’ve got to meet Mike.”

At the front of the store – where there are two checkout lanes – is Mike Scheerhorn, who lives, as he puts it, “a scooter ride away.”

He estimates he has been shopping at the store at 1025 S. Cleveland Ave. for more than a decade, attracted by its convenience and friendly staff. He said he’s there about four times a week.

“I’d say you come more than four times a week,” Maltwitz said. “I’d say you’re here at least six.”

She clearly is, too.

That sort of loyalty is critical to a small business trying to compete in a big-box world.

The past year has brought another Walmart to Sioux Falls, a new Fareway grocery and two Aldi locations. But the city’s longstanding grocers have persevered, finding new ways to attract customers in spite of mammoth competition.

“I think that one common component of all of us is that we’re survivors,” said RF Buche, whose family marks 111 years in the grocery business next month. “We’ve had to find our own niches. We’ve had to find a different way to do things.”

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