Ex-Byerly's Exec Goes Small and Fresh with Retail Concept

MINNEAPOLIS -- A veteran Twin Cities grocer and two partners are preparing to unveil the new Fresh Seasons Market in Glen Lake, Minn., just a few miles west of here, come November.

Under the leadership of Dale Riley, a former president and c.o.o. of Byerly's, and then e.v.p. and c.o.o. of the combined Byerly's/Lunds organization, the 25,000-sq.-ft. store will provide a new choice within the highly developed grocery market of the Twin Cities--upscale fare in a convenience setting.

Located in the Glenhaven Shopping Center, the store's "convenient location in a small trade area will be ideally suited for local residents," who will be able to enjoy "upscale quality and service -- inclusive of bagging customers' groceries and carrying them out to the car -- at affordable pricing," Riley told Progressive Grocer.

Riley also formerly held senior leadership roles with Kowalski's, and most recently Roundy's/Rainbow Foods. He said "opportunity" spurred him to embark on a fresh career as an independent grocer in the Twin Cities' cutthroat environment. "The community we're going into is a small neighborhood that's been without a supermarket since October of last year, hence the opportunity. It's a viable location," said Riley.

"But the store itself, and the strip center it's situated in, is in need of considerable rehabbing, and we believe that creating a new store and new concept" will bode well for future adjacent development projects, he said.

"The exciting thing about being a smaller organization is that we can truly get involved in our community. We want to partner with local organizations at the same time that we're simplifying our customers' daily needs for food and helping them plan the special events in their lives -- from holiday dinners to graduations to baby showers," he said.

The store will feature an abundant produce department, a full-service deli, a comfortable seating area for eating in, a full-service meat and seafood department, and a full service drug and pharmacy. Natural and organic offerings will play a significant role as well, as will locally grown, seasonal produce.

Riley said the focus on great food will not translate to upscale prices. "Convenience, quality, service level at affordable pricing is a value proposition that most people are looking for on a day-to-day basis." Riley said the store's modest décor, "while not as fancy as a Lunds, Bylerly's, or Kowalski's, will enable us to have a better cost structure, and we'll subsequently be able to offer more competitive prices."

Nash Finch will be his wholesaler, and since the locally based retailer/distributor is not currently supplying any Twin Cities retail accounts, "it's an opportunity for both of us to grow our businesses together," Riely added.

The grocer's partners include local developer Tom Wartman; and Tim Meyerson, principal of MainStreet Real Estate Advisors, LLC, and one-time director of real estate for Supervalu.

In addition, the operation has already confirmed in-store merchandising partnerships with Brown & Greene Floral Market (southwest Minneapolis), The Great Wall (southwest Minneapolis), and the General Store of Minnetonka. Additional food-related partnerships will be announced in the near future, Riley said. The partnerships, he said, lend immediate credibility and value to customers who are time-starved yet anxious to enjoy brands they know and respect, which is expected to draw from the Glen Lake community as well as portions of Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie.

Riley said he and his partners will continuing reviewing and evaluate opportunities for additional locations.
-- Meg Major
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