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Gourmands turn to Grumpy for the goods

Whaley's Market is renamed Grumpy's Gourmet Market, but it still offers fresh meats and vegetables that made Whaley's an institution.

By TIM GRANT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 26, 2002


CARROLLWOOD -- Don't let the name fool you.

Although Whaley's Market was recently renamed Grumpy's Gourmet Market, the store offers the same fresh meats and vegetables that made Whaley's an institution in Carrollwood for 23 years.

What's different is that two former employees now own the store.

"We will keep the quality that has always been here and bring new products in," said Judi Gagne who bought the business in February with co-owner Michael Boudreau. They seized the opportunity when Todd Whaley decided to close the Carrollwood store.

But why did they rename it Grumpy's?

"Mike's nickname for years was 'Doc,"' said Gagne. "But he can get grumpy sometimes. And I teased him, saying if we really get this store I'm going to call it Grumpy's. We tested it and people loved it."

The "Grumpy's" sign was raised in front of the store at 11743 N Dale Mabry Highway about a month ago. At first, it puzzled the regular customers, but the owners say it prompts new ones to come inside.

Shoppers might not know what to expect when they read the sign on the front door that says "Sorry . . . We're open."

But once inside, customers will smell fresh fruits and produce, see brightly decorated walls, dozens of balloons and upbeat workers.

"We're really not grumpy," Gagne said.

One longtime customer agreed.

"I've been shopping at this store for 20 years," said Terrill Hameroff of Carrollwood. "People need to know there are smiles in this store. . . . As long as I've been coming to this store it's been great. The quality is always here."

The Whaley family still owns and operates Whaley's Market on S Howard Avenue, which opened nearly 70 years ago. Family members opened the Carrollwood store in 1979.

In January 2001, Todd Whaley sold the Carrollwood Whaley's to Sam Jaleel and Nasser Irslaud. But when the business began to suffer, Todd Whaley bought it back on Sept. 11, 2001.

When he felt the business could not compete with the newly opened Fresh Market, Todd Whaley decided in January 2002 to close the Whaley.

"The shopping center in Carrollwood was losing its appeal," Whaley said. "There's no growth in Carrollwood. Carrollwood is now at the center, whereas it used to be on the edge furtherest north."

But Gagne and Boudreau have no regrets about their venture.

"The store is coming back," Gagne said. "We're making it. People thought the Fresh Market would hurt us. But I think we are doing great. It's the smaller market and the service they get that makes people keep coming back."

- Tim Grant can be reached at 269-5311 or at grant@sptimes.com.

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