WINTER PARK, Fla. - The parking lots gradually got fuller and fuller at local grocery stores on Wednesday as shoppers stopped by for their last-minute Thanksgiving meal needs.
“Cranberries for the cranberry sauce, mushrooms for the salad, and ratatouille,” said Michelle from Jacksonville filling her cart at the Lucky’s Market in Winter Park as she visits family for the holiday.
Like most grocers, the staff at Lucky’s filled their shelves on Wednesday to make sure everyone could find anything they may have missed or still needed to get.
“Got a lot of people coming in, they’re here first thing in the morning grabbing their turkeys, grabbing their essentials,” said Crystal, who manages the meat market.
Even as stores got busier through the day, the crowds in Winter Park seemed calm, with most not stressing too heavily over the holiday.
However, Thursday could be a different story.
As families actually start preparing their meals on Thanksgiving Day, it is almost inevitable that many will find a missing item needed for a recipe or an expired ingredient that needs last-minute replacement to pull their meal off.
Most major retailers will be closed for at least a portion of the day Thursday, if not for the whole day. That includes Central Florida’s largest grocer, Publix, who says on their website that they will be closed all day "so that our associates can share the day with family and friends."
Retailer giants Target and Walmart are expected to have limited hours on Thursday, with Good Housekeeping listing Target opening at 5 p.m. and Walmart at 6 p.m. in most locations for Black Friday, which is likely too late to save dinner for most.
There will be some options for desperate Thanksgiving meal preppers on Thursday, though.
According to Winn-Dixie’s website, their stores will remain open until 4 p.m. on Thursday. Whole Foods Market lists locations in the area open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Managers at Lucky’s say they will also be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday to offer up ingredients and even full Thanksgiving meals people have ordered from their kitchens. They say their associates can also offer some meal advice if that is what people are in need of come the big day.
“Calm down, have a drink,” joked Crystal, “it’s meant to be fun; you don’t want to stress out over the holidays.
If you’re looking for some last-minute Thanksgiving advice from home, a long-standing holiday tradition is also still alive in 2019: the Butterball Hotline.
“36 Thanksgivings that I’ve been chatting with folks,” said Butterball Hotline operator Carol Miller who was already busy fielding calls on Wednesday.
This year Butterball’s Turkey Day experts are offering up advice via phone, internet chat, text message, or through Alexa smart speakers.
Miller said she still gets the whole range of Thanksgiving meal questions from all over the country. For example, people wondering about safe cooking and handling of the bird, thawing, the best ways to prep it, or what to do in the most random of holiday hiccups. She said her best advice for the holiday is to take it in stride.
“Relax, it’s easy, make sure the turkey’s thawed, make sure you have a meat thermometer, and make sure you have a good recipe to enjoy those leftovers,” she said.