LAUREL – A northeast Nebraska grocery store is staying in business after store owners Gary and Charlotte Anderson laid the foundation for the past 35 years.
The established grocery store in Laurel, Gary’s Food Town, Inc. went up for sale in 2019 and on March 1, 2021 will officially make the transition to new owners Brenda Whalen and James Roberts. The grocery stores new name will become Laurel’s Hometown Market.
Gary and Charlotte Anderson were originally from Omaha and lived in Norfolk before placing their roots in Laurel. The goal for the couple was to come to town to do business, raise their family and retire as they have now checked all the boxes.
Gary’s Food Town opened in February of 1985, according to Gary Anderson.
“We’ve only been as successful as the help we’ve had and we’ve had really good help,” said Gary. “Many different families have had children work here. That’s been some of the joy of the business of being here.”
Gary started working in the grocery business when he was 13 in 1964 and they still put a can of pork and beans on the shelf the same way they did back then.
Charlotte mentioned the two will now be able to spend more time with family.
“He says (Gary) he’s not going anywhere for two weeks and he’s sleeping as late as he wants,” Charlotte mentioned. “But we have grandkids that live three hours away and they’re anxious for us to finally get to come to their functions if COVID gets over and we can attend.”
The grocery store in Laurel is located at 102 West 2nd Street and you can contact the store at 402-256-9128 with any questions.
The Anderson’s will still remain busy with their vineyard but plan on relaxing and taking it easy for a while as community members will still see them around town.
Brenda Whalen grew up in Laurel and left for Texas in 2013 where she worked with the college system at Texas Lutheran University before coming back to Laurel in December of 2020. James Roberts was a lineman in Texas and joined Brenda in Nebraska a few weeks ago.
COVID has changed the way how small-town grocery stores operate. Brenda Whalen added Gary has really built his business and has grown.
“People are used to shopping here now and hopefully they’ll keep shopping here and support us,” Whalen added. “A lot of people since we’ve been in here have thanked us for keeping this store open and giving them the option to stay here in town to buy their groceries.”
Whalen worked for a competing store back in the 80s as her children worked at Gary’s Food Town in high school.
Both Brenda Whalen and James Roberts have been in the transition of ownership and stated nothing will be changing besides the name of the store now being called Laurel’s Hometown Market.
The two new owners look forward to meeting community members from Laurel and the surrounding area.
“We’re just really happy that we’re here and just hope that everybody comes and says hello when they’re here,” said Whalen. “If we’re busy, please interrupted us to say hi. We want to thank them for their business and part of our success; we’re going to rely on the customers.”
A grand opening event is being planned for this May.