The new name for groceries in Barron

The grocery store known as Gordy's will be sold from current owner SpartanNash (also known as Nash Finch) to KJ's of Wisconsin Inc., and be branded KJ's Fresh Market, according to an announcement from KJ's on Thursday, April 25.

KJ’s announced Thursday it had entered into an agreement with SpartanNash to acquire the existing Gordy’s stores in Barron, Chetek and Cornell. SpartanNash will continue to distribute grocery and fresh products to the three stores.

SpartanNash acquired five Gordy's Market stores—in Chetek, Barron, Cornell and two in Chippewa Falls—in a receivership case earlier this year. At that time, SpartanNash said it would rebrand the stores under a subsidiary company called Family Fare Supermarkets.

Now the Chetek, Barron and Cornell locations will have a new owner and a new name. The Chippewa Falls locations are not included.

KJ’s Fresh Market, and its related company Johanneson’s Inc., operate grocery stores under the Marketplace Foods and Drug banner, MP Wine and Spirits stores, MP Gas and Convenience stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. 

The Johanneson's Marketplace Foods is not related to the Rice Lake Marketplace, which started in Hayward, expanded to St. Croix Falls, Rice Lake and Menomonie and was sold to Coburn Inc. in 2015. 

CEO Keith Johanneson is excited about the opportunity to invest in the communities to bring stability and superior grocery operations to Barron, Chetek and Cornell. 

“We look forward to building relationships with our retail team members, store guests and local partners, listening and learning about how we can better serve each of these three unique communities’ needs,” Johanneson said. “Our goal is to provide quality groceries, superior meat and produce—all in an inviting shopping experience in every store. We intend to invest in remodeling and making physical plant improvements once we fully evaluate the needs of the local communities.”

The transaction is expected to close in early June. Johanneson stated, however, that “KJ’s Fresh Market will begin working next week with the local store management and team members to start the transition.”

Marketplace Foods and Johanneson’s Inc. history spans 79 years. The company was founded by Keith Johanneson’s parents, Thelma & John Johanneson, in a small country grocery store in Edinburgh, N.D. in 1940. Looking to expand the business, they moved to Bemidji, Minn. in 1957 and opened their first store in Northern Minnesota. Bemidji now serves as the company headquarters.

Through the 79 years of operation, the company has expanded in several markets, developed new concepts and is excited about the opportunity to further expand its operations in Wisconsin. In 2011, the National Grocers Association presented Keith Johanneson with the Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award to recognize an independent grocer that exemplifies persistence, vision, and creative entrepreneurship. This annual award (started in 2009) is one of the most prestigious honors awarded to independent grocers.  In 2018, NDGA also recognized Johanneson Companies as Grocer of the Year in North Dakota.

The company is proud of its commitment to building stronger communities and has a long history of investing in various local and regional organizations in the communities the company serves. The company sponsors various community events in its existing locations including, Ride for the Troops, Power of Pink for Breast Cancer awareness, Stuff A Truck annual food shelf fundraiser, an annual Easter egg hunt, plus events with United Way, March of Dimes and other charities.

Gordy's Market Inc. sold the Ladysmith Gordy's to Great Lakes Foods and it was renamed Ladysmith Fresh Market in February. Hansen's IGA purchased the Eau Claire Gordy's Market in March.