Sausage cart owners were told to remove equipment from home depot

“Out of sight out of mind. If they had done it all at once, it would have been hell to pay,” says Chris Ryan of the recent removal of sausage carts outside the Home Depot and Lowe’s stores. Ryan and her daughter, Kerri Ginther, each owned a stand (Ryan’s in Parker and Ginther’s opposite Southlands Mall in Aurora) until in January they were told they had thirty days to remove their equipment.

While this summer looked back to two stands in Fort Collins, so far the only one reopening in the Denver area is the Brat Bar in Arvada. In September, spokeswoman Christina Cornell told Home Depot Westword, “We are constantly evaluating the needs of our business, and we found that in some areas we need to reuse the space to better serve our customers’ needs for housing improvement. The fact is that all food suppliers in our stores have kept closed since March 2020, and many voluntarily chose to move their business elsewhere during that period. We appreciate the partnership of the years and wish them the best of luck in their future business. ”

The removal of sausage carts in home improvement stores has also taken place outside of Colorado. In late July became Detroit Free Press reported that Home Depot shut down all food suppliers in Michigan … forever. Store owners were given a week to remove all their equipment.

These stands are more than just a place to score a quick, cheap bite. Over many years of operation, they have become permanent elements in their communities, where owners have developed many long-standing relationships with customers, stand staff and those working at Home Depot and Lowe’s outposts, many of whom picked up lunch from vendors during their breaks.

After nearly a decade in business, the announcement of moving out was a surprise for Ryan. After all stands were shut down in March 2020 in response to the pandemic, the owners did not hear from Street Eats, the management company, which is responsible for food suppliers at Home Depot and Lowe’s, until July of that year. That was when the monthly emails began. Ryan shared such an email that reads:

We wanted to give you an update on resuming service for Home Depot. We continue to work with Home Depot to develop a comprehensive plan, but at present we are not at the point where the service can be resumed. We understand that this is a difficult time and you may need to consider whether to continue waiting or not. Should it make sense for you to remove your food unit, send me an email and we will contact you about the next step. Otherwise, we commit to giving you another update next month.

click to enlarge The Brat Bar in Arvada is the only booth currently operating outside a Home Depot in the Denver area.  KERSTEN JAEGER

The Brat Bar in Arvada is the only booth currently operating outside a Home Depot in the Denver area.

Kersten Jæger

“They gave a light at the end of the tunnel every month,” Ryan explains. She was eligible for pandemic help and thought she was one of the lucky ones who could afford to wait for the reopening and did not have to find other options. In fact, she spent 2020 renewing her business license, business insurance and VAT license, ready to start up when she was notified.

Even after being told to remove her equipment in January, Ryan says she received confusing messages about the future of her business. In a phone call on Jan. 11 with Paul Spencer, director of customer service for Street Eats, Ryan recalls expressing concern about the fact that removal of her equipment violated her contract with the management company. In response, she says she was told that a new contract could be drawn up when things resume, but “not to hold her breath for when it would be.” She also requested this information in writing, recalling that Spencer said, “absolutely not.” Spencer and Street Eats did not respond to our request for comment.

“For months, we waited to hear while we were still paying loans,” explains Mark Johnson, who ran Dogs Gone Wild in front of the Home Depot on Mayberry Drive in Highlands Ranch with his wife, Melissa Taylor. The two work full time as firefighters and never planned to be food vendors, but in 2019, they stumbled upon the stand for sale after a hike and thought it would be a comfortable way to spend days off from their stressful jobs. The stand had been at the Highlands Ranch site for thirteen years and was one of the busiest and most lucrative in the state; Johnson and Taylor purchased the unit in October 2019 and were approved for operation in January 2020.

“We had no reason to believe there was anything to worry about with that business,” Taylor says, explaining that they had upgraded the entire stand, bought new signage and had a very successful two-month business before the March 2020 termination announcement. .

‘What happened in our opinion was [Home Depot] hid behind COVID, “says Taylor.” People at work asked us how it went with the sausage cart, and we told it to them, and they scratched their heads and said it made no sense. ”

Taylor and Johnson waited as they watched food carts reopen across Colorado and heard state officials encourage these types of food stalls to get back into business. At Dogs Gone Wild, all food was served wrapped up, the stand had only one employee at work at a time and the owners were happy to comply with mask mandates. And yet, even when indoor restaurants reopened, the stand was still not allowed to resume operations.

While booths remained vacant, Home Depot itself had a very successful year. “They increased significantly in sales,” Taylor says. “It’s the hypocrisy of it all.” While these small business owners interrupted their time, paid insurance, and maintained the booths, people flocked to buy paint and hardware for pandemic projects. Home Depot reported increased sales all four quarters of 2020, to an overall sales increase of 19.9 percent. Lowe’s saw an overall sales increase of 24 percent.

Cornell maintains that the decision to remove the stands came down to logistics. “As a reseller, we just have to pay attention to the space and decide if the company needs it,” she says. “It may not be exactly at this point, but come spring, our busy season, or if our construction service team has other uses for that space. In general, we reconsider the spaces in our stores and found in some cases that we needed that.”

But that reasoning does not agree with some estate owners. “At my Lowe’s, they replaced my hot dog cart with a water cooler,” said Hunter Slife, owner of Slife’s Devil Dogs, which was previously in front of Lowe’s in Littleton and has since moved to downtown Evergreen. “They may know more than I do, I’m just the CEO of a food truck, but it does not seem like the same option.”

“I think they could fit four lawn mowers in my room,” Ginther adds. “Four lawn mowers with space is worth my business?”

“The contract allowed them to do what they did,” Taylor adds. “But our problem all the time was ‘is there no one who cares about the right thing to do?’ The only thing we ever wanted them to do was do the right thing. ”

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