“I think they’re catching their breath a little bit.”
Retail industry strong
The year has been a successful one thus far for retailer William A. Straub, and Greg Lehr, produce category specialist, doesn’t expect that to change.
“Business has been good, and we expect a strong finish,” he said.
“There haven’t been any major catastrophes. Produce is really holding out.”
The St. Louis retail grocery business is thriving, thanks in large part to local support for independents, said Dale Vaccaro, owner of Vaccaro & Sons Produce.
“Most of the independents have been here awhile,” Vaccaro said.
“Customers want to shop the independents. They do everything they can to stay in line with the bigger retailers, but most of it is, ‘I want to shop this little guy.’”
Vaccaro & Sons itself is one of those little guys.
The company has operated its own 2,500 square-foot open-air market, also called Vaccaro & Sons, in St. Charles, Mo., for the past 22 years.
Business is always good there, Vaccaro said.
The St. Louis retail scene has been fairly stable over the past few years, said Steve Wielansksy, partner in Independent Fruit & Produce, another wholesaler on the St. Louis Produce Market.
The landscape is still dominated by Dierbergs and Schnucks, the two big St. Louis-based grocers that “have been around forever,” in Wielansky’s words.
Bigger national players also are on the scene, but they haven’t caused too much disruption.
“Wal-Mart is here, but they haven’t made inroads like they have in other places,” Wielansky said.