BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Having been open just a mere two weeks, Fareway grocery manager Mark Braun said the company has surpassed opening projections for the store.
The Fareway Grocery opened on Wednesday, Aug. 30, in time for the Labor Day weekend and the annual Tri-State Rodeo.
“It’s been a terrific grand opening. We exceeded all expectations and this community continues to be amazing in how welcoming they are,” Braun said Wednesday.
He said the opening was a little different from other locations because this was the first store he’s been a part of where there wasn’t a Wal-Mart in the town.
“They’re buying absolutely everything… even the oddball stuff. This is the first time I’ve been in a town without a Wal-Mart, so even things like pet odor remover spray is flying off the shelf. It’s the random things that kind of sit and gather dust that are selling here that surprises me.”
With the rodeo in town during the first full weekend, Fareway jumped in with donations to a pancake breakfast and some other events and even was able to get a semi and some employees, including Braun and Meat Manager Michael Hanna, to make the long parade trek on Saturday morning.
Braun said he was floored at the size and length of the parade.
“That parade was massive. For the size of town this is, I thought maybe 10 blocks and a couple hundred people lining the streets. I don’t know what the numbers were but there were thousands and thousands of people. It was absolutely insane. We ran out of candy and cookies about halfway through and just when we thought we were about done, we hit the downtown area,” he said.
One of the characteristics of the Fareway brand is their “To Your Car Service” and Braun said that is taking some adjustments for the customers.
“We’re kind of retraining the customer. They aren’t used to that and a lot of them are like, ‘No, we got it’, but we tell them we don’t have any cart racks outside so we can unload the groceries for them and then bring the cart back so they don’t have to and that usually does the trick. It’s just re-introducing that service to them.”
He said overall things have run very smoothly but there was a run on ice and beer during the rodeo.
“That was the biggest flux we saw. Every day we got a little busier and now we’re getting into more of a normal groove. But this community continues to be very welcoming. It’s almost like a celebrity status as I go around the community.”
Fareways’ main grocery line is 372-2223 and the meat market has a direct line as well at 372-8145. The store is open Monday-Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.