December 8, 2021

Stores abuzz as bird day nears

Last-minute shoppers scurry in preparation for Thanksgiving feast

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Longtime friends Lori Johnson, left, of Florida, and Cathy Christopher, of Scott, right, pick out a dutch apple pie together Friday at Anderson's Farm Market in Homer.

With only a few days to go until Thanksgiving, Cathy Christopher was already planning her next trip to Anderson’s Farm Market in Homer to get ingredients for dinner.

“Pretty much anything you can get here, you get here and whatever else you need you go to the bigger stores for,” Christopher said while shopping Friday at the market.

She is like others who are working their way through stores getting all of their Thanksgiving dinner needs. This year, people will spend on average $48.90 for a 10-person dinner, according to the American Farm Bureau’s 33rd annual survey, down 22 cents. It’s the third consecutive year the price has dropped.

The one thing Christopher knows she’ll definitely need from Anderson’s before Thursday is apples.

“Apples for apple pie come from Anderson’s, hands down,” she said.

Luke Petrella, a store employee, said they’ve already seen an uptick in people coming in to get their Thanksgiving Day shopping done. The store has stocked up on essentials — this includes turkeys. On Friday the store had already sold two of the three turkeys it had in the fridge.

Other commonly sold items are bricks of cheese and eggnog — if the store has it. The store usually sells out of Hillcrest eggnog, made in Moravia, Petrella said.

Petrella also said Friday and Saturday were busy days as people got their pie orders in. The bakery is one of the busiest spots in the store at this time of year.

“The ladies in the bakery are just running around,” Petrella said.

The store bakes about 141 pies are made each year, he said. But the bakery isn’t just making pies.

“People will come and buy cookies, rolls, just any baked good,” he said.

Workers over at Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill in Virgil have also been busy making pies and dinner rolls. As the holiday inches closer, Matt Hollenbeck said the days get longer as the staff works to get out all the pie orders. Hollenbeck said the business is so busy he couldn’t say how many pies are made off the top of his head. He said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest for pickups.

“They’re all ordered ahead of time,” Hollenbeck said. “In years past we’ve baked for 20 hours out of the day.”

Because it’s so busy, Hollenbeck said the bakery cut the order options down to half the menu on Saturday.

“Our whole menu isn’t even available because we just wouldn’t be able to keep up,” Hollenbeck said.

Instead, he offers the most popular flavors: Dutch apple, blueberry, Dutch blueberry, pecan and pumpkin.

However, Hollenbeck said his favorite pie flavor has always been pecan pie. It’s the one he has around his birthday in early November. When he took over as the owner in Nov. 2016, he changed the pecan pie recipe the shop uses to his great grandmother’s one.

“She’s from rural Tennessee, so she knows how to make pecan pies,” he said.

The bakery is also selling dinner rolls for the second year, and Hollenbeck said other breads will be sold after Thanksgiving.

The store won’t be open on Thanksgiving, but is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Wednesday.

At P&C Fresh, Nancy Porcaro and Larry Woolheater were just starting their Thanksgiving dinner shopping for the holiday.

Larry Woolheater of Cortland picks up a turkey and other Thanksgiving necessities Friday at P&C Fresh in Cortland.

Porcaro had stopped for the fifth year in a row to grab a turkey — a 20-pounder.

“They have all the best prices,” she said.

She also got potatoes, vegetables and stuffing, but she said she’ll probably be back before Thursday for last-minute items.

Woolheater was doing pretty much the same thing as Porcaro. He had grabbed an 11-pound turkey, yams, stuffing and gravy. He’s waiting to get his pies until closer to Thanksgiving.

“I will get most of it done today,” he said Friday. “I’ll come back for the little stuff like desserts because if I get them now, I’ll eat them.”

Assistant manager Julie Rodgers said she saw a steady stream of people coming to shop for Thanksgiving supplies all week.

She said Sunday was a busy day and Wednesday would be busy with people coming to get last minute items.

Rodgers said she’s scheduled more cashiers to help keep people moving through the checkout lines.

“We try to do our best to get people in and out,” she said.