48 HOURS OF FOOTBALL: Hy-Vee not too popular during Missouri football game

Saturday, October 29, 2011 | 7:30 p.m. CDT; updated 7:43 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hour 17: 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22

Geoffrey Powell looked at his shopping list, grabbed some milk and moved on. His two young daughters, Madalyn and Emma, didn’t notice their dad had left. He was about 20 feet away when the girls, almost simultaneously, realized their dad was on the move. They raced toward him, pushing tiny green shopping carts and smiling the whole way.

It was about 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers trailed No. 5 Oklahoma State 24-10 in the second quarter. The loudspeaker at Hy-Vee was broadcasting the action. Madalyn and Emma didn't care. They were enjoying the luxury of roaming a nearly empty grocery store with their dad.

Business is usually slower during Missouri home football games, according to frozen food manager Kent Peery, whose section was deserted. Some customers come specifically to capitalize on short — or nonexistent — lines. Others simply don’t notice.

“I didn’t even know there was a game,” Steve Myrick said. “I don’t follow football.”

"It just worked out that this was our usual time and day," Geoffrey Powell said.

A football game wasn't going to change that.

Two hours before kickoff, the Hy-Vee at Nifong Boulevard and Providence Road was pretty standard. The 11 a.m. game time had business down some, but plenty of customers dressed in their Missouri apparel were buying ice and other tailgating essentials.

The sense of abandonment started outside. A few minutes before the game, every sound typical in a parking lot — the rustling of bags dropped into a car, the wheels of a shopping cart gliding across the pavement, the clinking of keys on an employee’s belt — was magnified.

Inside, no one seemed to notice when the radio switched to the Tiger Radio Network 2 minutes before kickoff. Die-hard Missouri fans were gone.

“I’m a fan to the extent that I hope we win,” said customer Fred Raithel.

Many employees took advantage of the extra time to stock shelves. Others had trouble staying busy.

Around 2 p.m., Evan King walked through the dining area with a rag in one hand and a spray bottle in the other. Three tables were occupied, and the rest appeared clean. King glanced at each one as he walked by, just in case. Suddenly, he paused. A small crumb. He hesitated for a second, debating whether the tiny speck was worth it. Then he sprayed the entire tabletop and wiped it clean.

Meanwhile, the kitchen workers stood in a circle, talking and laughing. They — like the customers — seemed to pay no attention to the game broadcast over the loudspeaker. A customer dressed in black and gold came up to them to place an order.

“What’s the score in the game?” asked one of the workers.

“We’re down three touchdowns,” the customer replied nonchalantly.

A few minutes later, a subtle change in the store's atmosphere started taking shape. The parking lot got fuller. Lines got a little longer. Missouri-clad customers started entering.

It was 2:30 p.m. The game was over. Its effect on Hy-Vee had run its course.

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