PARK SLOPE — This past weekend's blizzard set records not just for snowfall.
The Park Slope Food Co-op clocked its biggest sales day ever the Friday before the storm struck, co-op leaders said.
The member-run grocery sold $238,764.19 in mostly organic, locally-sourced merchandise on Jan. 22, the most business it's ever done in single day, said general coordinator Ann Herpel.
The co-op typically takes in between $148,000 and $155,000 on a Friday, Herpel said. The previous record day was the Saturday before Thanksgiving 2015, when the co-op raked in $216,265, Herpel said.
The throng of shoppers grew so thick on Friday evening that the co-op was forced to activate crowd control measures. Customers were given laminated, numbered cards and told to wait upstairs until their number was called for their turn to shop.
"People were tense, but they weren't obnoxious by any means," said Herpel, who witnessed the buying blitz.
Co-op members who were working shifts that day tried to brighten the mood by playing "upbeat" music on the sound system, with plenty of tributes to David Bowie and The Eagles, Herpel said.
Shoppers seemed intent on filling their baskets with ingredients to cook meals at home while hunkered down during the storm. Herpel remembers one woman who bought five duck breasts.
Despite the shop-a-thon, the co-op managed to not run out of food, Herpel said.
Buyers had ordered extra merchandise to prep for the storm and stored it in the co-op's large basement area — a feature that allows the store to keep more food on hand than typical supermarkets, Herpel said.
After 43 years in business, co-op leaders have become seasoned vets at handling shopping surges. The staff holds debrief sessions after unusually busy days to troubleshoot, Herpel said.
Leaders came up with the idea of handing out numbers to shoppers "on the fly" during a previous hectic day. This time they were ready with the laminated cards and were able to launch the system within a few minutes, Herpel said.
The co-op has even perfected its snow removal methods. A member used PhotoShop and Google Street View to make a map showing exactly how to shovel snow outside the store into piles that would leave passageways for deliveries and keep the firehouse next door in the clear, Herpel said.
What will the co-op do with its windfall from Friday? Not much. The grocery takes in 17 cents of every dollar spent at the store and uses the money to pay bills.
"No one really makes money," Herpel said. "The co-op isn't structured that way."