New Owners, Same Gray’s Foods

When Sidd and Zee Shawn took ownership of Gray’s Foods in Rockford at the end of October, they had a few ideas of how they might freshen up the independent grocery store’s inventory and services. Once they met customers, however, they realized there wasn’t much to change.

“In the beginning, we thought we’d bring in a few new things and stop stocking others, but it’s really not necessary,” says Sidd, who also joins Shawn as owner of Atlas Managements, a management company in suburban Chicago. “This is a community store. It’s for the people of the community and we want to keep it as is.”

Gray’s has been a popular staple in northeast Rockford for the past four decades, and today it’s well known for being a one-stop shop for produce, baked goods, meat and deli items. Operating within 18,000 square feet at the Highcrest Shopping Centre, 1630 N. Alpine Road, the store is not Rockford’s largest grocery store, but its reputation for quality has made it a preferred stop for many local residents. Sidd believes a longstanding emphasis on freshness is one reason for its popularity.

“Everything is fresh,” he says. “We cook our deli items every day. We receive fresh meat five days a week. In our bakery, everything is baked fresh every morning.”

Customers will find their shopping experience today is still business as usual. So far, Sidd has found the transition to be relatively smooth, with the exception of one minor hiccup. The pair had to reapply to accept EBT, the state’s supplemental program for low-income families. That service is once again in place for those who need it.

Sidd and Shawn say they look forward to getting to know the store and its customers better.

Since taking ownership, they have not only retained the store’s staff of 60 but they’ve added two more employees. For Sidd, this is one change he feels the customers can get behind.

“We want to keep the name of Gray’s Foods and its reputation going for years to come,” he says. “It’s unique because of our customers and we want to keep it that way.” ❚