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Festival Foods opened its 22nd store on April 8 in Madison, Wis., a new market for the family-owned chain based out of De Pere, Wis. The company held an opening reception the day before the store’s opening to introduce Festival Foods to the Madison community. “Festival is ready to wow Madison,” said Store Director Paul Anderson, who has 41 years of experience in the grocery industry.
The 55,000-square-foot store employs about 200 people, including a management team with a collective 305 years of experience. While Festival Foods’ President/CEO Mark Skogen admitted it was a long and bumpy road to opening the latest store in Madison -- “It had more delays than Delta Airlines,” he quipped – the end result is one that he is positive will address the unique needs of the Madison market and be willing to listen to customers and adapt as needed. The company envisions up to four more stores in the region.
The Madison store also marks a departure for Festival Foods in the floorplan. All of the fresh and prepared foods are on one side of the store while the dry, grocery goods on are the other. “We stepped out of the box a bit with this one,” Skogen said. The initial concern that the “dry” side would be boring and lifeless is waylaid by being on the street side of the store, which features windows running the length of the building to bring the action and light of the outside into the grocery aisles.
Festival Foods New Features
Local Madison favorite Kin-Kin Coffee also has a coffee stop located in the front corner of the store that is just down the street from the Capitol building. The new store also features The Mezz, a mezzanine above the store that houses a bar with beers on tap as well as plated dishes and an indoor/outdoor seating area.
The store also features some traditional Festival Foods departments like a scratch bakery, natural and organic foods, fresh sushi, salad and hot bars, extensive deli, catering services and a large wine and spirits department. The Tot Spot also is available for customers to drop off their 18-month to 7-year-old children to play under supervision while they shop the store. Parents can keep an eye on the their children in the Tot Spot through closed-circuit cameras that show the area on a screen by the mezzanine stairs.
The new Madison Festival Foods is the first full-service grocery near the Captiol, according to area consumers, something that customers like Theola Carter are looking forward to. While the store offers a wide variety of prepared foods that are perfect for a quick lunch (or even dinner) either to grab-and-go or to enjoy in The Mezz, what Carter looks forward to most is the choices a full-service supermarket offers.
“I can grab peanuts or whatever to stash in my desk at work,” she said during the opening reception. “Or if I forget breakfast one morning, I know I’ll have apples and Nutella in my desk that I picked up earlier in the week.” She stressed the store’s location on Washington Avenue, a main street leading right to the Capitol building, as one of the most attractive features of the store.
The new store also boasts several sustainable features such as the use of round timber in place of structural steel in the building’s trusses. The ash trees used were repurposed from Tenney Park and had to be removed due to the emerald ash borer. The floor also is painted concrete, instead of VCT tile, which requires less maintenance.
The store may be beautiful, but its beauty won’t matter if it doesn’t draw customers. And to do that, Skogen promised the local community that Festival Foods would have associates that were experts at what they do and be able to offer knowledgeable assistance; offer a full shopping opportunity including a full selection of both groceries and prepared foods; be involved in the community and be friendlier than other stores.
“In today’s marketplace, consumers have high expectations for the value they receive for their money as well as how they are treated,” he said. “We are excited about the opportunity to offer Madison guests value-driven pricing, a wide selection that includes healthy choices, and a great shopping experience.”
In addition to the Madison area stores, Festival Foods plans to open three new stores later this year in Green Bay, Somers and Menasha, Wis.