Customers gobble up sweets from Dolly Madison outlet store

November 26, 2012 

Monday morning there were no Twinkies in the Dolly Madison outlet store on Victory Drive.

But there was plenty of white bread for 50 cents a loaf; off-brand vanilla wafers, two for a dollar; and Zingers, five for a dollar.

Powdered sugar donuts, anyone?

And when all of that ran out, there was a hauler full of replacements in the parking lot.

Plenty of calories for just a little cash.

But it was more than a going-out-of-business sale at the store connected to the defunct bakery. Interstate Brands Corp., the parent overlord of Hostess, announced intentions earlier this month to close its plants and shut down the company.

That is one way to end a union walkout. The plant closing -- and loss of 18,000 jobs across the country and about 400 in Columbus -- has been well documented.

What has flown under the radar is the closing of the outlet stores that sold the excess Twinkies, hot dog buns and countless other treats and daily staples at a discounted price. For years there were a half-a-dozen of these stores scatted around Columbus and Phenix City.

Recently, there have been two -- the flagship in the parking lot of the Victory Drive bakery and one on Crawford Road in Phenix City.

The one across the river closed Saturday. The one here will close as soon as all of the treats are gone.

Please pardon the pun, but these stores truly have been a slice of life in Columbus -- and have been for more than four decades.

For years, they have helped working folks stretch budgets while literally putting bread on the table.

Go into a grocery store, and you will pay $2 or more for a loaf of bread. At one of these bread stores you could always get one for under a buck. Some days, you could get two for a buck.

You could also fill a child's lunch box with something sweet and affordable from one of these stores. A Twinkie was a bonus after a ham sandwich.

Monday morning, Caroline Shafer, a retired Muscogee County school teacher and lifelong South Columbus resident, was at the Victory Drive store with her sister-in-law, Barbara Shafer. They were looking for Twinkies, but had to settle for Zingers, a distant chocolate cousin, and fried fruit pies.

"I hate this is going to be gone," Caroline Shafer said. "I really hate it."

She remembers the many times she could feed a crowd without digging too deep into the purse.

"We would have church or school meals and you would run in here and buy all of the hot dog and hamburger buns you needed," Caroline said.

A lot of people who live life on a tight budget, are going to miss the bread stores.

The bet here -- and I will bet you a Twinkie, if you can find one -- is a lot of people took these stores for granted.

Not any more.

Chuck Williams, metro editor, can be reached at chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com.

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