Thrifty Foods currently undergoing major renovations
Jodi Axford, owner of Thrifty Foods in downtown Wheatland has been masterminding and overseeing major renovations that are both necessary and esthetic to customers. T3 Last Week the old manual doors were scrapped and within a day Thrifty Foods went out with the old and in with new automatic opening doors. T4 The finished project at Thrifty Market included the addition of new automatic opening doors that created a new vestibule between the weather outside and the comfort of being inside.
WHEATLAND – Thrifty Foods has been a downtown mom and pop grocery store for years. People have come to trust the home-town feel and the personal attention that is given by owner Jodi Axford.
Axford is rewarding her customer base with renovations that are not only convenient and esthetically pleasing to her customers, but also to her employees who are saying that it’s like working at a brand new store.
“It’s been two years in the making,” Axford said. “It took two years to get a general contractor specializing in commercial work. I ended going with Capstone. I had contacted all the general contractors who were commercially licensed in Wheatland and they were all so far behind because of COVID. I’ve contacted ones in Laramie, Cheyenne, Casper, Torrington and then finally went back to Capstone and said, just get me on your schedule.”
Due to the backlogs and supply chain issues, most general contractors that Axford tried to contact were two years out. Once she had the contractors on the job, she was able to keep them very busy of late.
“We had to redo all the cement so we could use that back entrance,” Axford said. “We are also had to redo all the interior flooring. It’s just stuff that needed to be done. It’s going to look better but things like the flooring was just falling apart. We also needed automatic doors. With the improvements we are kind of just bringing the store back up to today’s time. It should have been done decades ago.”
One of the checkers at Thrifty’s said that all of the checkout stands are now going to be replaced and she said that the existing ones have been in “ever since I was in high school.”
“There will be new check stands and new registers,” Axford said. “There will also be a new register system.”
One nice thing is that the personal touch is maintained and unlike some of the big-box stores in the bigger cities, Axford’s employees are paid to check and bag the groceries. The business has really taken a step up and again, that was a part of Axford’s business plan to turn this mom and pop shop into a modernized grocery that is turning a corner.
“I started heavily marketing in 2019,” Axford said. “I started a new marketing plan and then obviously COVID hit and we went through all the panic buying. At that point we knew we needed another check stand. So that was the initial plan which was to pull the whole front of the store out and add another checkstand and put the carts out in the new vestibule, but then the town said we couldn’t use the alleyway.”
Thrifty as of now has no way to expand out, according to Axford and the only way would be to add a second story which she said is impossible.
“So we are bringing out the front a little bit,” Axford said. “We will also expand because we took over the offices (originally on Gilchrist Stree) as of the first. We are actually right now using the space as offices because about five of us were sharing one little office. I’ve also expanded my employee break room so they could relax a little bit on their breaks. We also now have a conference room. What we are doing is pulling a lot of that stuff that was up in the front and just pulling it back. So there’s a little more working area. We are now looking at four fully-functional registers up front.”
Axford is also in the process of getting a liquor license and a lot depends on the laws that will be changing July 1. She is hopeful that it will be a reality for her and for her store.
“It looks like a lot, but we are just trying to change little by little,” Axford said. “We are just trying to do what we can to make it a good store. I mean, it’s not a huge store, but we want to make it the best little grocery store around.”
Axford also mentioned that although there have been other buildings that have come available, she feels that being downtown is key to her business and her commitment to community.
“I don’t want to leave the downtown area,” she said. “I think it’s a necessity for this area especially because we have a lot of people who walk here. Also, our parking lot. Many people use it for events and that’s another way we can give back.”