Never mind Hy-Vee: Grocery veteran opens new independent
There seems to be little room left in the market for a small, independent grocer. But Joel Ahlstrom isn’t discouraged: He opened Longfellow Market on East Lake Street in south Minneapolis in 2014.
Ahlstrom, 70, has been in the grocery business for a mere 53 years and also operates Riverside Market in Isanti. He says that business is improving, but acknowledges he’s already changed his business model from a conventional grocery store to that of a natural and organic retailer.
“That’s what the neighborhood is looking for,” Ahlstrom says. “I’ve had this thing in the works for years. It’s kind of a dream to do a store and do it right. I want to re-create the old-fashioned neighborhood grocery store. That was my goal.”
Ahlstrom says he isn’t worried about the big dogs taking a bite out of business at his 18,000-square-foot store. “This is not a Hy-Vee neighborhood. It just has a nice feel to it, it’s a more friendly place,” Ahlstrom says. “A lot of my shoppers would never darken the door of a Cub or a Wal-Mart.”
Who’s who in the grocery business
Woodbury-based Kowalski’s Excelsior store will be its 10th. Christiansen says revenue for 2014 will end up at $200 million to $250 million.
Edina-based Lund Food Holdings Inc. operates 28 local stores: 13 Lunds locations, 13 Byerly’s stores, one Rainbow (Plymouth) and Lunds & Byerly’s Kitchen in Wayzata.
The privately held Edina-based Jerry’s Enterprises operates two local Jerry’s Foods in Edina and Eden Prairie, with a third soon to open in Woodbury. Jerry’s also is a large Cub Foods franchisee.
Eden Prairie-based Supervalu Inc. owns Cub Foods, which has 66 corporately owned and franchised locations in the Twin Cities. Supervalu paid approximately $35 million to acquire 10 former Rainbow stores, which became 10 new Cub locations.
Fortune 500 retailer Whole Foods Market Inc., based in Austin, Texas, will grow to seven metro locations when it opens its Woodbury store in 2017.
Deep-discount chain Aldi, based in Batavia, Ill., opened its first local store in Inver Grove Heights in 2003 and now has 25 across the metro.
Boutique grocer Trader Joe’s, based in Monrovia, Calif., opened its first local outpost in 2006 in St. Louis Park and now has seven metro stores.
Roundy’s Inc., a $4 billion grocer based in Milwaukee, announced in May 2014 that it was selling 18 Rainbow stores in the Twin Cities for $65 million. It’s still trying to land subleases for nine closed stores.
Orange You Glad You’re In Edina?
The region surrounding Southdale is ground-zero for the grocery expansion wars.
These are the combatants:
1. Kowalski’s Market
5327 Lyndale Ave. S.
6310 Penn Ave. S.
6228 Penn Ave. S.
4. Cub Foods
6775 York Ave. S.
7000 York Ave. S.
6. Byerly’s *
7171 France Ave. S.
New store opened September 2014
7. Whole Foods Market *
7401 France Ave. S.
Opened April 2012
8. Trader Joe’s *
4270 W. 78th St.,
Opened October 2012
2555 W. 79th St.
10. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market *
8001 Penn Ave. S.
Slated to open fall 2015
11. Cub Foods
8421 Lyndale Ave. S.
12. Sam’s Club
200 American Blvd. W.
700 American Blvd. E.
14. Lakewinds Food Co-op *
6420 Lyndale Ave. S.
Opened June 2014
* New stores