Customers get chance for own supermarket sweep at Curve


— When Deanna Manyfires won Curve Market and Deli's 60-second supermarket sweep at the store's grand opening on Friday, she must have considered herself lucky.
But when she was unable to satisfy the store's rule of getting at least one item from every aisle, Manyfires walked away with nothing.
Ironically, later that night the store's freezers briefly shut down, turning Saturday morning into a large-scale and unplanned supermarket sweep for hundreds of local residents.
The rules Saturday morning were simple: Get a cart, stuff it with freezer food and buy it all for $30.
Some customers who were in the store around 8:30 a.m. when store managers made the decision to sell the freezer food at bargain prices stocked their carts with high-dollar items such as seafood and meat, and walked away with more than $1,000 worth of food.
Within a half-hour of the sale's start, workers said the store was packed with a line of people woven through the frozen food aisles and waiting to get to cash registers.
By 11:30 a.m., the store's freezers were completely empty, save for a few lone cans of frozen juice and some ice cream.
"What a gimmick for a grand opening," store manager Gary Cole said. "Everybody got to do the supermarket sweep."
Cole estimated between $50,000 and $70,000 worth of frozen food was sold at the bargain price Saturday morning.
He said the losses are partly covered by insurance and freezer failures are not uncommon.
Although the freezers were running again by 7 a.m. Saturday, Cole said the store had to get rid of all of the food that might have been affected. One option was to throw out all of the food, but because most of the food wasn't that damaged, they decided to sell it cheap.
"Some people got very good bargains," store owner Robert Ellsworth said. "And that's what grand openings are all about, so it will certainly make a memorable grand opening."
Word of the sale spread through friends, family and co-workers. Most shoppers said they sped over to the store as soon as they found out about the situation.
Linda Story and Danielle Thurston drove in from Hayden after a call from Thurston's husband, who heard about the sale from a friend at work.
The two women arrived at about 11 a.m. and filled a cart as fast as they could.
"We pretty much grabbed what was left," Story said, looking at the cart that was overflowing with frozen breakfasts, fried chicken and ice cream bars. "We usually wouldn't buy these they're expensive. But now, yeah, we'll take them."
Waiting in line in front of Story and Thurston was Micah Egan, who had a cart filled with pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and several tubs of sherbert.
Egan was working at Mama's Old World Pizza when his co-worker found about the sale and said someone should run to the store. Egan quickly volunteered.
"It seemed like everybody in Steamboat going down Lincoln was going about 40 (miles per hour)," he said. "I was hoping to find steaks and scallops in the freezer section but there wasn't a whole lot left."
Egan said he isn't a big ice cream fan but was happy for the bargains.
Ellsworth said he thought he had considered all of the major problems that could take place during the store's grand opening festivities. He said the store was prepared for smaller problems such as computer failures, but he never imagined something would go wrong with all of the store's freezers.
"I really was dumfounded," Ellsworth said. "It was so stressful that it was funny almost immediately."
Despite the crowds, shoppers never got out of control or competitive, store workers and customers said. Taller shoppers helped everyone reach items on the top shelves and everyone stayed calm and friendly.
"There was a lot of camaraderie and smiles," Cole said. "(Customers) were very friendly, and they were very understanding."
Some even stayed to help store workers bag groceries. Becky Lea, who stopped by the store to pick up a grill she had won as part of Friday's grand opening drawings, said when she saw how busy the store was she couldn't pass up the opportunity to help with bagging.
"All these employees were kind of a bit red in the face and looked swamped," she said. "The least I could do was help."
She said she didn't fill up a cart because she doesn't have a freezer at her home.
Brian Simillion, who came with his mother, didn't have a problem with freezer room. At his family's house, there are three big freezers, he said.
So both Simillion and his mother grabbed a cart and filled it to the brim.
In one cart, Simillion had precisely stacked about 250 TV dinners and frozen pizzas, with about two dozen containers of Cool Whip taking up the cart's bottom level.
Crammed into the second cart his mother was pushing were bags of frozen vegetables, potatoes, ice cream and more.
"I've never down a shopping sweep before," Simillion said. "I love it."
It also turned out that there was a happy ending for Manyfires. She got to come back Saturday and give the supermarket sweep another shot, this time with two full minutes to fill her cart and without the limitation of getting an item from every aisle.
"We're just hoping that they come in and win and get happy," Cole said about the decision to change the sweep rules. "We want happy people here."


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