by Central Staff
They’re often referred to as “grocery surplus” or “dented can” stores, but Joan Burgett likes to refer to their store, Burmac Groceries, as the longest running mom-and -pop food store in Chaffee County. It’s also the only peacock ranch in the region.
Joan’s husband Doyle first started the store in a back room behind his salvage yard east of Salida, along with Tom McCoy, he began buying overstocked items from General Foods and offering them for resale to the public.
Doyle went on to open a larger store at the site of the old skating rink in Buena Vista, and then on Oak Street in Salida. Eventually he jumped through a variety of legal hoops and built a permanent structure where Burmac is still located today. At first it only only carried canned and dry goods items, as they did not have refrigeration, but eventually they purchased freezers and walk-in coolers, allowing the store to carry meats, seafoods and other frozen items.
In 1981 Doyle met and married his wife Joan, who runs the day-to-day operations today.
Burmac sells items that have either been damaged in transit, overstocked items or items that supermarket chains no longer wish to carry. Like any retail grocery store, it is inspected by local, state and federal authorities and is required to meet the same strict sanitation standards. Because these items are resold at a much lower price, the store is able to pass on the savings to consumers. There are no “savings cards” or membership fees – gimmicks that large corporate stores use to lure in customers. What you see is what you get. Their location is just outside city limits, so shoppers receive additional savings, as no city sales tax is collected.
Sometimes, some very unusual foods will wind up on the shelves. Burmac has stocked rattlesnake meat, kangaroo, pheasant, ostrich and even quail eggs – but they also carry an abundant supply of staples such as breads, rice, flour, condiments, cheese, cereals and, of course, canned goods. Inventory comes on a truck which makes a weekly dash to Denver, returning early on Tuesday mornings to restock the shelves with new products. On any given day, it’s not unusual to find chefs from local restaurants, scouring the shelves looking for deals to offer on the next day’s menu.
Burmac is also a strong community supporter. They donate to local food banks and soup kitchens, as well as the Buena Vista American Legion Post and the Wounded Warriors program. Burmac also has a contract to supply food to the county jail.
And then there are the peacocks. These colorful members of the pheasant family have been on the premises as long as the store has. There are currently 19 in residence – blacks, blues and whites. Since mating season lasts from April through August, the males – who sport those extravagantly colorful tail feathers – are in full courtship mode. It’s worth the drive out just to see them.
“We’ve had a lot of fun with the business and plan to continue to offer quality foods at low prices,” said Joan.
This past March, the Burgetts lost their home, furnishing and belongings in a tragic fire, so they welcome any additional business spurred by this article to assist in the rebuilding.
5550 East U.S. Hwy. 50, up a dirt road, south of the highway.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. 719-539-3177.