National Good Neighbor Day
What do you do when you are out of bread or milk? Most of us run to the corner store or call a good neighbor. Here at Springmoor, the corner store and a good neighbor are one in the same!
Springmoor residents and husband and wife, Emily Castrodale and Bob McGaffin have been running The Little Corner Store, an on campus convenience store, for the past four years. For their neighbors at Springmoor, the store provides a great service – Bob and Emily keep the store stocked not to make a profit, but to help their fellow Springmoor residents, charging their customers the price for which the item was originally purchased.
A volunteer-based staff helps run the store under the direction of Emily and Bob. The team handles everything at the store from scheduling, staffing, purchasing, and restocking. Neighbors helping neighbors is what makes the McGaffins so dedicated to this part of their community.
Before Emily took on running the store, she often volunteered to work at The Little Corner Store due to her background in retail. As a 17-year resident of Springmoor, she found this was a great way to help the community. Visiting with her neighbors and finding the right mix of products for the store is what first intrigued her about the job.
On the other hand, Bob, a former IBMer, like most long-time Raleigh residents, was familiar with systems, spreadsheets, and purchasing. He was asked to join the team and help Asa Manning, another Springmoor resident do the weekly shopping for the store.
When Bob was planning to be out of town for a weekend to visit family, an opening was left for assistance with the weekly grocery store restocking task. Now this is no easy task! The list is 13 pages long with 364 items. Yes, 13 pages! Ask an IBM trained man to make a grocery list, and you will get a very detailed spreadsheet.
Emily volunteered to help Asa on the weekend Bob was going to be in St. Louis with his family. Bob wasn’t quite sure she was up to the task but she declared, “Yes, I can!” and so, he agreed to let her help. He was pleasantly surprised when she called him at his daughter’s house after returning from the daunting task to report, “I did it!”
The Little Corner Store has made many changes since Emily and Bob started working there, and now they have developed quite an inventory of necessities. As things have progressed, the system for running the store has become quite complex.
The spreadsheet is sorted twice each week, by the aisle number it is located in. Each item on the list is also marked with the shelf location, inventory quantity and restocking needs. Every Saturday morning at 7:45, the two head to the grocery store, their first stop of the day. The two fill up the first cart with bottled water, sport drinks, soft drinks, and toilet paper. This cart is rolled to the front, and then, with lists in hand, they head to the opposite ends of the store. Asa is responsible for the list sorted from aisle 1-19 and Bob takes the list sorted from aisle 19-1, and they meet in the middle. With 3 full carts, they check out and head back to Springmoor.
Once everything is packed up in the car, they call the front desk to let them know they are on the way. Volunteers and the security staff are ready to help unload the car and price each item. With the store receipt, each item is marked with the price that the grocery store has charged them. If an item is on sale that week, then that savings is passed along to residents.
With pricing finished, the two head out to another store for a few more items that they can’t always get at their first stop. During the week, the McGaffins check the newspaper for sale items and weekly specials to update the long list of inventory. Every 2 to 3 weeks, they make a run to Sam’s Club for larger bulk purchases, including chocolate, candy, snack foods, batteries, and light bulbs. The two have devised a few ways to repackage the large quantities into something more manageable for our residents, all while passing along the savings to their neighbors.
What happens when they’ve bought too much of something, or an expiration date is coming due? There’s a bargain table, of course! “Ladies love something on sale,” Bob says, and he is always amazed how quickly the table is cleared off when items are placed on it.
Employees benefit from having these two good neighbors run The Little Corner Store, as do the residents. A mid-morning break to grab a snack or a late breakfast bar fills the store with activity each day. Only open from 9:30-noon, some customers, residents and staff alike, come with a long list in their hand, while others simply drop in to pick up a loaf of bread or a birthday card.
They make quite a team: IBM training, a little retail experience, plus a lot of dedication make for the perfect combination! Emily and Bob even met at the store, where their romance began. If you don’t know their sweet story, ask them to tell you how their first date turned into a marriage proposal within a week!
If you find yourself out of milk and bread, you’ll find your good neighbors at The Little Corner Store, ready to help!