Dunning’s Gourmet Market & Deli was established in 1958 and moved to its current location in downtown Flossmoor two years ago. This month marks Dunning’s second anniversary.
Owner Maureen Mader was considering retiring and closing her store when a regular customer, Marty Max, let her know about a storefront he had available for rent. She decided to make the move.
“He enticed me to move to this location. By doing so I was able to embrace the parts of the business I love and leave the rest behind. That gave me a new found passion and love for my store. I love being part of the community and having a store that people can walk to,” said Mader. “I also love the space. It is more in line with what I always envisioned my store to be. The community has been amazing.”
Even in the new space that she loves, it’s been a challenging few months as they’ve struggled through the effects of a pandemic as well as an extreme storm that caused damage over the summer. Mader and her staff have done their best to make adjustments and continue to provide a varied menu with an assortment of fresh products and some shortcuts for customers looking for a good meal without taking the time and effort to make it themselves.
Dunning's serves up hot and cold sandwiches and salads and offers a variety of fresh meats and fish. A customer favorite is the homemade chicken salad. Dunning’s offers a Supper Club that has been popular during the pandemic, too.
“The Supper Club has flourished and has really been a great thing. Our business in that area has doubled which has made up for some of the declining revenue due to lack of foot traffic,” said Mader.
The business remained open during the pandemic and recently re-opened the retail space. There is no indoor dining, but the village provided some outdoor seating for those who would like to enjoy a socially-distanced meal outside the storefront.
“We have gotten our online ordering up and running out of necessity and it has turned out to be a hidden blessing. We had been procrastinating for years and had to get with the times. We were operating 100 percent phone-in and needed a venue to show our products. The website has been it,” said Mader. "We also went to 100 percent delivery by partnering with Kahlid Findley and Viking Valet. So now the community has helped keep two businesses open and operating and they trust us to deliver their food safely. We started selling everything, including milk, eggs, yeast and toilet paper. If we stocked it, we sold it and still do.”
Other changes in the past few months have been hours of operation, selling wine and starting their Kids Club.
With reduced commuter traffic in the mornings, the opening time has been pushed back to 10 a.m., but Mader said they are in the building and working by 8 a.m., so if you’re itching for a hot coffee, you just need to call and they’ll get one ready for you.
Wine was added to go along with the Supper Club, which is available weekly with full meals of two entrees, two sides and soup or salad and instructions on how to cook it in 45 minutes or less. It is also delivered to your door.
“We are starting a Kids Club to deliver daily lunches since most kids and parents will be at home. We want to take something off their plate and make lunch easier,” said Mader. “We will have a donation component to that program to send lunch to others with less disposable income.”
Mader’s son has also painted inspiring messages in windows of downtown Flossmoor to help lift spirits.
“Like most businesses, we have been changing weekly since this began. It’s been challenging in every aspect. The hardest part has been to communicate that we really are so happy and grateful to see and hear from you all while we stay healthy and follow the guidelines, which change frequently,” said Mader. “We are used to seeing our customers literally every day and accommodating almost anything, but now some things are not possible and it’s hard to disappoint. We love our community and feel blessed to be here.”
Throughout it all, Mader said they’ve received a huge amount of support and are happy to be able to continue to serve customers. “The response from the community has been amazing. People are loyal. Our customers regularly order things they may never use like spices, oils and some have even taken up cooking. All this to help support and keep our doors open,” she said. “Our customers have purchased gift cards and refuse to redeem them until our business is back to ‘normal.’ I am so grateful to have them. The care and concern they show makes us feel so special in this weird time.”
In addition to the challenges caused by COVID-19, the derecho storm that occurred on Aug. 10 left the store with damage and without power.
“Our front window blew out and because of the power outage we had to throw everything away,” said Mader. “We were closed for almost a week for cleaning and restocking.”
The glass was special order and just replaced last week.
“The nice part was that people from Flossmoor painted really nice wishes on the board up.”
Mader is currently working on planning an Oktoberfest event with live music. Follow the store’s Facebook page for updates.