GRAND RAPIDS — After spending most of the 2000s so far acquiring independent grocery chains and more than doubling its count of company-owned stores, Michigan’s largest independent wholesale distributor is now giving some of those stores a new look.
Spartan Stores has been revamping some of its stores, which include the Glen’s Market, Felpausch Food Center, D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare and VG’s Food banners.
The 17 VG’s Food stores were the latest acquisition, in 2008.
The company now operates 97 retail supermarkets, said Jerry Goldsmith, director of produce and floral for the company.
He joined in August, leaving Safeway Inc. after 25 years, most recently as regional director for Safeway corporate produce for the Northern California division.
“Our remodels generally include a focus on our fresh offering, whenever possible locating the produce area at the front of the stores to greet consumers with our fresh offering,” Goldsmith said. “Our new prototype stores always position our fresh produce at the front.”
The company is making some changes within that produce department during remodels, too.
“We went to a higher profile racking in the produce wet rack to help with visual appearance while controlling shrink,” Goldsmith said. “We have also enhanced the Euro slant tables with added merchandising fixtures, such as half moon pods to help display variety within categories.”
All of the company’s stores are in Michigan, but its distribution reaches Indiana and Ohio. For that reason, the company has been building an internal buy-local program, Michigan’s Best, which it launched over the summer.
“The biggest trends in produce have the consumer wanting to support more local-grown product,” Goldsmith said. “We are also finding customers looking to do more cooking at home. They are looking for value offers to help stretch the budget, such as 10-pound potatoes, bag onions, bag apples and citrus.”
The Michigan apple crop, particularly the Honeycrisp, has been a big success this fall, Goldsmith said, coming off a strong Michigan blueberry season.