Entries in Grocery (4)


Minnesota Grocery Mogul Gives Away Stores to His Employees

Lueken's Village Foods(BEMIDJI, Minn.) -- After 46 years of running Lueken's Village Foods, grocery mogul Joe Lueken is giving away the store to his 400 employees.

The 70-year-old and his family will start transferring ownership of the three-store chain on Jan. 1 to an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program), in which each employee will own stock.  The number of shares will be based on their salary and years of service.

Two of Village Foods' stores are in Bemidji, Minn.; a third is in Wahpeton, N.D.

Asked by ABC News what prompted him to give away his business, Lueken says it just struck him as the right thing to do.  He considered other options, including selling out to a private buyer, but when he talked to his family about it, his wife and four sons agreed that handing it off to the employees made sense, considering how much his employees -- past and present -- had done for him.

"It wasn't just the best option," says Lueken.  "It was the only option."

It was too, he thinks, best for the community.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Lueken has been famous for years for his generosity to local charities and causes, including the Sanford Health Foundation and the Bemidji State University Foundation.

Lueken tells ABC that after he came down with Parkinson's disease in the 1990s, doctors recommended he have electrodes implanted in his brain to help control his trembling.  It wasn't until he was being prepped for the operation, he says, that he realized the surgeon was a man whose education he'd helped pay for.  That made him feel a lot better, he says, about having the procedure.

Brent Sicard, an employee who started at Village Foods in 1998 as night janitor, will be the company's new CEO and president.

Sicard says he first came to Lueken's attention when, every morning at 3:30, Lueken "would come crashing through the doors and start restocking the aisles.  It would be just him and I and a few bakers, that early in the morning."

Lueken promoted Sicard to produce manager, then he just kept moving up -- a beneficiary of Lueken's promote-from-within philosophy.

For years, says Sicard, Lueken took no salary: "He's always put money back into the business.  There were years when his managers made more than he did, everything considered."

Asked what he will do now that he can take time off, Leuken says that after his wife has an operation in January, the two hope to do some traveling around the U.S. "and to see the grandkids."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Grocery Store Rids Itself of Packaging

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- That environmentally friendly canvas shopping bag you proudly lug to the grocery store is about to get a lot more full, if you do your shopping in Austin, Texas.

You'll need to fill it with your own reusable containers, because cereal boxes and beer bottles will be a thing of the past at In.gredients, a new-age grocery store opening in Austin later this year.

The company behind the idea says the concept is to create a shopping experience that forgoes any kind of packaging and instead lets customers buy as much or as little as they need by filling their own containers.

"Essentially it's a very simple model, a throwback to old times," said In.gredients co-founder Joseph Lane of Brothers Lane, LLC, which consists of Lane, his two brothers, and a friend of the family. "We were looking at a way of using these old methods to make it more convenient and easier for customers to participate in a zero waste lifestyle."

The vision for a package-less grocery store, the first in the United States, involves customers shopping with their own containers, therefore purchasing the exact amounts that they need to take home.

Lane, whose team has backgrounds in IT management and business process consulting, said that the idea came after they began to think back to their childhoods and were looking for a new business venture that promotes environmental sustainability.

Howard S. Schiffman, a professor of environmental conservation education at NYU, said that although the idea is a step in a good direction, the company may be overlooking the importance of packaging products. Though it may cost more, packaging does prevent foods from going bad. That allows retailers to keep inventories on the shelves for a longer period of time, saving the business the manpower and money that would otherwise be spent repeatedly restocking.

"It's overall a wonderful idea and might change thinking on sustainability, but there's something they need to keep an eye on," said Schiffman. "There's something we get from packaging, it can help keep things fresh and reduces spoilage."

"But if they can address that problem or sell in high volume, that might be something to compensate."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Grocery Shopping Isn't Just for Supermarkets Anymore

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The next time you need groceries, you might not need to shop at a grocery store. CVS and Walgreens are both getting into the grocery game in a big way, in order to cater to customers' needs, as well as their wants.

Studies show people shop for drugstore items only about once a month, but they shop for food two or more times per week. Drugstores are hoping that when you come in for milk and eggs, you'll also pick up some greeting cards or DVDs.

"We wanted to develop a daily healthy and living solutions store," Mark Wagner, president of operations and community management for Walgreens, told ABC News.

It's working. Drug stores that have added more food are attracting more customers and making more money.

"It's been very successful when you look at it from a financial aspect, but it's been even more successful when you look at it from a community aspect," Wagner added.

So it's good for the stores, but it is good for the customers?

"Some of my best grocery store deals have come from drugstores," said Chrissy Pate, co-founder of, a forum for the best grocery deals around the country.

"The drugstores offer lots of store incentives and that's what makes them different than the grocery stores and big box chains -- you're going to find lots of store coupons, lots of rebate programs and lots of store credit," she said. "And that's how you can really get some rock-bottom prices."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Food Prices on the Rise

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Food sellers will be forced to pass on the rising cost of food to consumers after a year that saw the lowest food prices in nearly two decades, reports the Wall Street Journal.

As inflation sets in, supermarkets and restaurants have had to raise costs to make up for a sharp rise in the cost of staple products. 

Companies like McDonald's Corp., Kellogg Co., and Kroger Co. have signaled that consumers will begin to pay more for their products due to the higher price of ingredients.

Even Starbucks -- which announced in August it would stave off price increases -- said it plans to boost the cost of hard-to-make drinks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio