The collateral damage of last year’s Hostess implosion is still afflicting some Havre businesses.
Between the closure of the Sweetheart store on 2nd Street and the Billings-based vendor who further provided baked goods to the Hi-Line, it’s become harder to buy a loaf of bread.
At Walmart, Dennis Pearson, manager of the grocery department, said the store lost almost all of its bread offerings.
“Most of our bread, 99 percent, was supplied by Hostess, ” Pearson said. “Basically, now we’re trying to work with other vendors, to get the Great Value-type bread up here. That’s basically why we’re just running with Wheat Montana. ”
Pearson said that “probably 95 percent” of their current bread offerings come from the Three Forks-based bakery, which had a deal, separate from Hostess’, to get bread to the Hi-Line.
Gary & Leo’s Fresh Foods is also relying more heavily on Wheat Montana, but the impact wasn’t as hard, according to Manager Tracy Job.
“We found a replacement for some of our bread lines, ” Job said. “We’re still pursuing a vendor that will bring a route into our area.
“There’s still some bread companies that are trying to put together a route to our area, but they haven’t yet. ”
Randy Johnson, assistant manager at Kmart, said that his store hasn’t had much difficulty.
“We just had to change suppliers, ” Johnson said. “It affected us for about three weeks with Sweetheart closing. It’s about the same. We get more wheat than white now. ”
While more focus has shifted to in-state bakers, a small number of customers have turned to in-town bakers.
Rick Neuwerth, owner of Grateful Bread in the Atrium Mall, said he may have seen “a slight increase, ” but understands some of his prices might not work for some customers.
“My product’s pretty well priced, ” Neuwerth said. “I have to make a living. There’s a market for that mass-produced bread that I can’t match. ”