Since Michaela Garibaldi was a girl, her family has enjoyed Thanksgiving turkey from the Niskayuna Consumers’ Co-Operative, located on Nott Street.
“Shopping here is a family tradition,” Garibaldi said while picking up her 22-pound bird Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve been coming here myself for over 30 years, and my mom did before me.”
Garibaldi said the fresh Plainville Farms turkey she pre-ordered last month would be dry brined and roasted Thanksgiving Day, and would feed 16 of her family members.
“This is a World War II co-op, so we have generations of shoppers here,” General Manager Jenn Felitte said of the store, which opened in 1943. “We have people who have been coming here as children, and continue to shop here to feed their families.
“When you come here to shop, it’s like coming home.”
Felitte said the co-op staff does holiday preparations, including ordering and sale estimations, several weeks in advance.
“It’s a calculated risk you take every year,” Felitte said. “If sales are up more than they normally are with some things, we have to order more than what we might normally, but not so much that we have too much at the end of the holiday season and risk things going bad.
“Our main goal is to keep our customers happy, because they’re so loyal to us,” she added.
Ben Wallach, the co-op’s marketing director, said grocery shopping for Thanksgiving is a production.
“This is our busiest day of the year,” Wallach said. “There’s a big two-day rush. Popular holiday items, like gravy, and the sausage we grind in-house for stuffing, have disappeared off the shelves.”
Wallach said hundreds of customers call in their turkey and pie orders weeks in advance.
This year, more than 400 Plainville turkeys were pre-ordered for the holiday, as well as 300 pies.
“When people get out of work, that’s when it will get really crazy,” Wallach said with a chuckle. “But even so, it’s not so bad. Now, it’s just about getting the orders out.”
Six frozen turkeys and one fresh were left around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, but were completely sold-out just an hour later.
Pam Blasting, the manager of the co-op’s meat department, said to her knowledge, this is the first year for that to happen.
“The largest bird we sold this year was 32 pounds,” Blasting said. “Every year, what the customers want is different. Last year, the parts of the turkey, like the wings and breast, blasted out first.
“What is in the highest demand changes every year, and we do our best to have it and give our customers the ingredients they need for a happy Thanksgiving.”
Mona Golub, the spokesperson for Price Chopper and Market 32 supermarkets, said heavy holiday shopping begins several days before a holiday like Thanksgiving.
“The day before is a big day, but the morning of Thanksgiving is as well,” Golub said Wednesday. “People want the freshest ingredients for guests they might have coming for the holiday, especially vegetables, herbs, eggs and other dairy products — whether they’re making traditional recipes that have been passed down, or picking up a freshly-baked pie that we’ve made.”
Golub said customers don’t need to pre-order turkeys at their chain grocery store, which receives dozens of truckloads of birds for the holiday.
“We order the many items that peak in volume during this time and Christmas, like turkeys, canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce,” Golub said. “It’s wonderful to see the baking products off the shelves and sales from the baking aisle explode as people are making homemade goods.
“We’re pleased to be able to provide the specific ingredients people are looking for to make memories,” she said.
The Niskayuna co-op is closed for Thanksgiving Day, and Price Chopper and Market 32 stores will close at 3 p.m. and reopen Friday at 6 a.m.
“All of our staff, whether they celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday or not, need a day to spend with their families,” Felitte said. “We may look at other days that we give our staff off, but we will never touch Thanksgiving or Christmas because it’s so important they get that cherished time with those they love.”
Wallach said the market is one store that is quiet on Black Friday.
“It’s one of our slowest days of the year,” Wallach said. “By closing tonight, there will be empty shelves.”