Former Kohl's Execs Establish New Supermarket

RACINE, Wis. - Two former executives of the now-defunct Kohl's Food Stores chain are establishing a new store under the Country Market USA banner that they hope will grow into a four-unit operation within a year.

The store will be built upon the fine service that was a hallmark of Kohl's during the chain's heyday during the 1960s, Bill Koberstein, a 34-year Kohl's veteran and former director of perishables, told The Journal Times newspaper. He's opening Country Market with Dave Wojciechowski, a 30-year Kohl's executive, who was head of construction and maintenance.

The first store will be located at 3915 Durand Avenue here, a former 1975-era Kohl's store, with the a bowling alley roof, that requires some $500,000 in renovations. The store will occupy 35,000 square feet, including 5,000 square feet of a former Walgreens next door, which moved to a freestanding site across the street. The partners will use the rest of the Walgreens site to open a Super Liquor store in the next few months.

Country Market USA is expected to open in mid-August. The new company is hoping to take sales from competitors Piggly Wiggly, Roundy's Pick 'n Save, and Racine Produce by providing upscale offerings, low prices, and outstanding service. "We're going to bag your groceries for you, load your groceries for you," Koberstein told the paper. Shoppers will also be able to call ahead to place orders, and meat will be cut to order. Baking will be done four times a day, instead of early mornings only, as many retailers do.

The store will also place a heavy emphasis on local Wisconsin products, including Guernsey milk, cheeses, lamb, sausages, Black Bear soda from Oak Creek, and Cedar Crest ice cream from Cedarburg.

The partners have said they have also locked up leases on two other sites here, and are considering a fourth.

Kohl's had been a division of Montvale, N.J.-based A&P, but the struggling retailer closed or sold off the division's 23 stores last year.
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