‘I’m getting my list that I forgot’: last-minute Thanksgiving shoppers crowd Iowa grocery stores

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:38 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Julie Rubalcava and three of her grandchildren spent part of the afternoon before Thanksgiving in the Hy-Vee on Edgewood Road in northeast Cedar Rapids.

“I have my fresh turkey I ordered and I got to pick that up,” said Rubalcava.

Jemma Rubalcava, one of Julie’s granddaughters, said she and her siblings help with the holiday dinner. “We set out meat and cheese. Like, olives and stuff.” But it’s their grandmother who cooks a Thanksgiving feast for seven.

To prepare for the big dinner, Rubalcava bought groceries ahead of time, but there were some items she needed in the eleventh hour. Gesturing to the rolls in her cart, she said, “These are just the last-minute things.”

Rubalcava wasn’t alone. Mary Tibbetts was also shopping Wednesday afternoon because she had forgotten a few things.

“I forgot the oysters for the dressing,” said Tibbetts. “And of course the little green bean casserole.”

DJ Vega, Store Manager for the Hy-Vee on Edgewood Road, said Tibbetts and Rubalcava were in good company. He said the day before Thanksgiving is in the top five when it comes to the busiest days of the year for the store. Especially with the changes this year.

“Tomorrow is our first day that we’ve been closed,” said Vega. “Normally we close at two o’clock in the afternoon. So being closed tomorrow, you know, we think this is going to add to today.”

The crush of traffic in grocery store aisles happens in towns big and small. Lucynda Manternach is the produce manager at Brothers Market in Lisbon. She added their story had been busy, as well.

“Some people are coming in for last-minute things, and others are coming in for the whole thing. So, a lot of Thanksgiving preparation going on,” said Manternach.

While the holiday is about gratitude and family, the crowds at the store on Wednesday made it clear Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be right without the right menu.

When TV9 asked Rubalcava about her favorite part of the holiday, she said, “I would say just getting everybody together and sit down with a meal.”