Bette Jo Lay ate a brunch of vegetable frittatas outside of Grant Street Grocery and Market Saturday and chatted with her son and store owner Lindsey Grant. Lay used to buy penny candy there as a kid in the 1940s, she told them.
The store celebrated its 100th year Saturday with a street party featuring local bands, specials and drink vendors. Since the new owners remodeled and reopened the store in early 2017, they’ve heard many customers’ memories of riding their bicycles to the store for soda and penny candy as children, Grant said. So just for fun, they brought it back for the 100th anniversary in jars full of the colorful treats.
“The store is a part of the community, especially for the people who live here,” Grant said. “So many more people in Casper know about it now and are able to come and enjoy all of the events and special things that we have tried to do with the store in the last year and a half.”
History and variety
Lay recalled debating her options in front of a large case of jawbreakers, peppermints, caramels and other penny candy they could fill a bag with for a nickel at Grant Street Grocery. She and her friends would roller skate to the shop for candy or ice cream.
“We’d get ice cream cones and roller-skate back home licking our ice cream cones, eating our candy,” Lay said.
Her mother shopped at the store for everyday items like milk, bread and eggs at a time when there was only one supermarket in town.
“These neighborhood grocery stores were just wonderful, because we didn’t really have supermarkets and the little neighborhood grocery stores is where we shopped,” Lay said. “And Grant Street Grocery was just a staple. We just loved shopping in this grocery store.”
The shop has changed a lot, especially with new technology like a machine that fills water bottles or cups when you place it under the sensor, she said.
Jayde Angelo is another customer who remembers frequenting the store in middle school with friends. On Saturday, she filled a wicker basket with food as she strolled through the shop with her mother Laura Angelo.
The store does much to help build the community, including supporting local nonprofits and hosting events like Saturday’s celebration, Laura said.
“We’re excited about the commitment they’ve made to maintain this special shop that brings in a lot of products you can’t get anywhere else in town and a lot of fun events,” she said.
Linda Krafft and her daughter, Kyllie Krafft visited Grant Street Grocery Saturday to help celebrate the anniversary and support the shop, they said. Both frequent it for lunch, coffee and supplies for cooking — a hobby they share.
“I like to try new things,” Kyllie said “So it’s a nice place to find unique ingredients you can’t get elsewhere.”
Changes and traditions
Visitors on Saturday bought merchandise designed for the 100th anniversary, drinks from an Urban Bottle Wine & Spirits booth and tried samples inside, including bloody mary mix and pickles floating in a mix of herbs and seasonings. Balloons floated above a sign that once hung on the original back side of the store and was discovered when the new owners remodeled the shop with a modern commercial kitchen, Grant said.
Additions from the new owners include a restroom and a coffee lab open at 6 a.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. Saturdays, featuring craft coffee created by barista Travis Johnson, who’s studied craft coffee for more than a decade, according to the shop’s website.
“Everything has been updated and upgraded and meant to last another century,” Grant said. “And that was really our goal, to make sure this place was functioning properly so it could serve the next generations of Casper.”
Yet touches remain from the earlier days, like the old sign standing at the street corner in front of the store. Just inside is a butcher block with deep dips in its surface from decades of use by the shop’s butchers. An old clock still overlooks the shop.
Times have changed since kids used to pick up milk or eggs and put it on their parents’ tabs, Grant said. But they still frequent the store, and on Saturday she watched them play and munch on snacks outside.
“So even in our small portion of this 100 year legacy, this is still a place where children can come and safely ride through the little neighborhoods and still grab some candy,” Grant said. “Now most parents will send them down with their credit cards, and the kids all know their pin numbers now.”