Spotlight on Van Alstyne - Diamond Food Market

Back before it was Diamond Food Market, it was Barrett Grocery. Owned and operated by Bill Barrett, the grocery store back then ended right past the check outs and you would find carpet on the floors. On the other side of the store was Barrett’s Cafeteria and a jewelry store. Prior to it being a grocery store, the building housed a hardware and feed store.

Stanley Munger, the produce/grocery manager, has been with Diamond since it was Barrett’s. In fact 6 months after getting out of the Army, he said he was ‘a poor boy with a new baby and he had to find a job’, 50 years later he’s still there and according to those that work with him, they aren’t willing to let him retire any time soon.

In September of 1988, Walter Smith purchased the grocery store from Bill Barrett. Walter and his wife, Florence, had opened their first store in an area called Diamond Hill on the North side of Fort Worth. This was the origin of the name “Diamond” and thus when the Van Alstyne store was purchased from Bill Barrett in 1988, it was renamed Diamond Food Store.

Shantel Zabel is the assistant manager, but she said she started working there 19 years ago at the age of 16 because like any teenager, she needed to make extra money.

Kristi Wilks grew up a block away from Diamond, and a week after it became Diamond back in ’88, she started working as a checker. She was Junior in High School at the time and 31 years later she’s worked her way up through various positions and is now the manager at the store with 25 employees.

We asked these three if they were expecting any growth or expansion in their future and were told they were actually scheduled to have a meeting the following evening to discuss some upcoming items, so it was a possibility.

The store also assists and is involved in community activities. It has a donation request form and provides donations when feasible.

Combined these 3 employees have 100 years in the grocery business, so we wanted to know what changes they’ve noticed, and it was really interesting to hear and relate to since being business owners we all wrestle with change and how to adapt to it. Here are some of the things they’ve noticed: this generation is more about convenience. “Used to, we’d build big displays for Holiday merchandise, but we’ve noticed in the last few years they don’t buy it. They’re buying the already cooked, prepared meals. Shopping has changed a lot. It’s easier to hit a drive-thru or restaurant and grab a burger, it’s just more convenient.” We talked about how the habits of this generation affect things you wouldn’t even think about, like a grocery store. Between the convenience of a business cooking for you and people that simply buy the things they need, yes even groceries online and have them delivered. No longer can stores count on carefully staged items throughout the store to produce an ‘impulse purchase’. They shop on a computer that doesn’t have a candy rack near the register.

When asked how would you like to see VA grow and change?

All three shared the hope that VA can keep the small town feel. “We don’t want to lose sight of our history.”

When asked what was it that you’d like people to know about Diamond? Their response was simple – “we’re not a big chain – we’re about hometown and we like to keep things personal. We call our customers by their first name and have that personal level. If they ask us to get something in stock, we make every effort to do that for them, that’s what we’re here for.”

Diamond has been a part of Van Alstyne Chamber since they were Barrett’s Grocery and the Chamber would like to thank Diamond and it’s employees and for continuing to serve the community of Van Alstyne.

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