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Family Fresh Market the first of its kind for Nash Finch

If the crowd for last Friday's grand opening of the Family Fresh Market is any indication, the renovated grocery store will be a hit.

The parking lot of the former Econofoods store at 2351 Coulee Road was filled by 9 a.m. when Store Director Bill Kinney and Nash Finch Co. CEO Alec Covington led a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Also in attendance were Hudson City Council President Randy Morrissette II, Chamber of Commerce President Kim Heinemann, Cities 97 radio personality Lee Valsvik, Chamber ambassadors, store employees and a big crowd of shoppers.

The shoppers were drawn by the chance to win free groceries (a total of $20,000 worth will be given away) and have a look at the redesigned store.

Kinney was showered with compliments on the store's upgraded deli and produce departments, as well as the old-fashion, full-service meat department.

Covington said the Hudson Family Fresh store is the first of several that Nash Finch will open around the Midwest.

The Edina, Minn.-based company is one of the largest U.S. wholesale grocery distributors and also operates 57 retail stores in nine states. It acquired the former Erickson's Diversified Corp. More 4 stores in 1999 and re-branded them as Econofoods stores.

The company built the Coulee Road store in 2000 and closed its downtown Hudson store, the former Econofoods City Market, in 2006.

"What we did is really start with a clean sheet of paper," Covington said of the redesign of the Coulee Road store.

He said "literally hundreds" of people were involved in the process as Nash Finch senior managers talked to customers, store employees and the company's distribution team.

"It emphasizes perishables, which is really in tune with where customers are going today," Covington said of the store. "And then we brought back the old butcher shop, which I think is a very unique aspect of this store."

Covington said the bottom line was the last thing the company thought about in redesigning the store. The focus, instead, was on providing customers with the kind of shopping experience they want.

"So we have more labor here. The store employees have enormous amounts of authority to make decisions about the products they carry, the prices they need. It's really total retail empowerment at the store level. We think it's the right way to run the store in the future," Covington said.

He added that Hudson is a strong community and a great market. He said it has a healthy economic base and well-educated consumers.

"It really represents a lot of the markets that we're in," he said. "If we can do it in Hudson, we probably can do it in other places."

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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