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Indy Picks: Crow’s Stop and Shop

By Raina Lucero

January 24, 2023

Crow’s Stop and Shop grocery store first opened in 1937, it has since been handed down three generations to the current owners, Keith and Jennifer Crow who have owned and operated the store for 12 years.

The lone grocery store in Eads has, overtime, expanded to address the needs of the community and provide service that may have only previously been found elsewhere. Customers are able to order in advance, food trays for holidays, funerals, parties or other occasions. There are different sizes of trays available and the crew there makes sure to add a bit of flare to their creations. Whether it is a vegetable, fruit, or meat and cheese tray they come nicely prepared, at a fair cost, and are fresh!

Other services you may not know about is their custom meat cutting, if you prefer a specific cut of meat or bulk meat ordering there is a good chance you will be able to get what you are looking for. Special orders are always available as well. If Crow’s does not have something you want or need, talk to owners Keith and Jennifer, they will do their best to find it and they may keep it on the shelves if it is something others buy as well. Crow’s will also order in cases of items you request and offers special pricing if you buy that item by the case.

Over the past 12 years since Keith and Jennifer first took on the ownership role of Stop and Shop, they have upgraded their coolers and freezers, installed an Icee Machine with delicious flavors that taste perfect on any summer or even winter day. They have also taken advantage of the Dippin Dots ice cream craze and have a cooler stocked with that tasty snack, as well as have gotten rid of the indoor ice cooler and replaced it with an Ice Vending Machine outside.

The indoor ice storage freezer was 20+ years old Jennifer Crow told us, “We took out the freezer to make room for the Dippin Dots freezer and we now have a Leer Ice Vending Machine. It serves the purpose of both space saving by moving it outside and providers our customers with ice after hours and on Sunday.”

Some of the faces that we see each time we are in the Stop and Shop are long-time employees. Some of those employees say they have retired but seem to keep popping up here and there to lend a helping hand. Right now, Jennifer tells us that they have 9 employees including some who work full time and others who are just part time.

Keith and Jennifer are also known for hiring young kids who are just at the age of being employable to give them their first real job. This is where they learn about customer service, hard work, and gain a solid work ethic because they have mentors such as the Crows to look up to. For some, this is the only job those kids have before they graduate and head off for college or other adventures.

While on the outside one may think that this is a near perfect business model, they have no true competition within 36 miles, and they have a great staff and don’t often find themselves short staffed. However, there are always things that are happening on the backside of every business that we may only think about when the price of our normal groceries goes up or becomes harder to find.

Keith Crow tells us, “Our biggest obstacles are continuing supply chain disruptions and increasing costs of supplies and groceries as well as trying to keep our shelves full and keeping the cost of items as low as possible for our consumers.”

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began many chain stores as well as mom and pop stores such as Crow’s have felt the squeeze when trying to get supplies that their customers rely on. We have seen toilet paper in short supply; dog and cat food is becoming harder to find; Gatorade, and even Frito Corn Chips were scarce for a time. Right now, affordable eggs are the hot ticket item.

Through the pandemic Keith and Jennifer were transparent with their customers about any issues in the supply chain, the owners did not price gouge as we saw in other larger markets and even offered special shopping hours for elderly and immune compromised individuals. Something else that Crow’s did to mitigate the effects of Covid on their business was offer delivery to those who were too concerned to get out, those who could not get out, and even to those who were in quarantine and sick with the virus.

Covid did not break this generational business when so many others around the country could not afford to stay open in the time the country was locked down. Being the only grocery store in the county, Keith and Jennifer knew that they had to be there for their customers, and it was not about the money, it wasn’t about the PPP loans, or the unemployment that so many other employers jumped on to ride out the pandemic. It was about ensuring that their customers did not go without. It was about being as close to business as usual as possible to provide some resemblance of life before Covid when the rest of the world seemed to be unrecognizable.

Even now, with inflation soaring across the country Crow’s Stop and Shop has gone through great measures to ensure that they offer the best product at the best price. Always looking and always shopping around for the best deal possible so that the customers don’t have to.

Jennifer was happy to tell us, “The best thing is serving our customers and enjoying what we do. We have had tremendous support locally since we took over the store and of course the Pandemic changed the way we all shop and do business. Our business has doubled since 2019 with more people buying locally. We have had great support from the town of Eads and also from the East and West ends of the county. The unfortunate event of Kit Carson losing its grocery store has brought us many new awesome customers as well.”

“Getting time away from the store has become an issue for us personally. With Keith and me both working at the same business, it has been hard for us to take any time off. It is true when you have a small business you are married to it.”

Jennifer went on to say, “Although we have what we feel is the best staff at our business, the workload at times becomes overwhelming. Hiring a manager for our store to help run day-to-day operations has been in the back of our mind for a few years. When Nicole came on board, she had excellent management experience and customer service skills. The time she has been here we have been able to run the store more efficiently and look forward to her contributions in the future. It seemed like a natural progression to promote her to a management position. Keith and I might even get some time off.”

Nicole Smith Keplar is a 2012 Eads High School graduate. She and her husband Chris live in Eads and have 3 wonderful girls. They also care for their niece and they enjoy their family life here in Eads. Before working at Crow’s Stop and Shop, Nicole was the General Manager at the Cobblestone Inn and Suites in Eads where she made a wonderful impact on business operations there.

Nicole is known for her hard work and exceptional customer service skills. She is a volunteer board member for Crow-Luther Cultural Events Center and likes to help coach her young daughters’ various sports teams, as well as watch them play with their teammates from the stands. She is an avid Eads Eagles fan and frequents home games to show support for her favorite team.

In an interview with the Kiowa County Independent Nicole told us, “I hope to be able to make a positive impact on the business as well as to be able to help Keith and Jennifer take some must deserved time off here and there. It means a lot to me that Keith and Jennifer trust me to hold down the fort in their absence and with more responsibility. It feels great to be appreciated, recognized, and rewarded for my work.”

Congratulations Nicole on your promotion to manager from the Kiowa County Independent, we urge our readers to shop local and utilize our Indy Pick Crow’s Stop and Shop Grocery Store for all your grocery needs.

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