Sunshine Foods has 25 employees on staff in the Dodge Center store.
Here in front of the produce and deli departments from left, front row, Dana McDonald, Melissa Adreon, Jean Wicks, Greg Bernard, Jennifer Collazo, Kari Trahan; second row, Thor Wirth, Sara Stoltz, Joe Hernandez, Logan Maas, Jim Baker, Dorys Reyes;
back row, Becky Flatness, Becky Hart, Isaac Olson, Naomi Jensen, Brandon Wright.
Not pictured, Chrissy Rath, Sarah Gartner, Serena Jensen, Lexy Bartlett, Cerly Gilliland, Laura Holderness and Kaly Stockwell. Photo by Larry Dobson
By Larry Dobson
When Sunshine Foods added the former John's Foods to its chain in July, it was the lucky 13 store, Manager Greg Bernard said Monday during a conversation at the store. The plan was to add 6,000 square feet to the store and have it ready by Thanksgiving, but weather cooperated, construction was completed well in advance and community acceptance has allowed new owners to exceed their expectations.
Vern Bennett, an owner of Sunshine Foods, said he met John Tidemann at a food show during the summer of 2011 and learned John was interested in finding a buyer for the Dodge Center store. He discussed it with his partners and the rest is history. Bennett said they were impressed with Dodge Center as a nice town with a lot of industry.
Sunshine Foods took over operation of the store on July 11, 2012, a week after Independence Day and immediately began making changes, beginning with adding 6,000 sq. ft. to the existing 10,000 sq. ft. They have completely redecorated the store with new colors, fixtures, floors and lighting.
The frozen food, meat, dairy, produce and Hispanic/Asian food departments have been expanded. Bernard said they would like to expand the Hispanic/Asian section even more.
A gluten-free section and a dollar store have been added.
Bernard said all the grocery sections have been expanded. In addition, he said there are institutional size canned vegetables, fruits, pickles, barbecue sauces, etc.
The store continues to offer fuel at the service pumps.
For the holidays, Sunshine offers gift baskets, party trays made to order, meat and cheese trays, fruit trays and vegetable trays. There is also a ready to go home-style Christmas turkey or ham dinner with all the trimmings to serve eight people available which must be ordered ahead 72-hours.
Sunshine Foods is open seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays are Senior Citizen Days with a five per cent discount for seniors. Bernard said senior delivery service is available once a week at some of the Sunshine stores and that he would offer the service locally if there is enough demand to make it practical.
Bennett said things are going well at the store. "When we acquire a store we project expectations and we did that in Dodge Center," he said. "We set the bar not real high and we've already achieved that. We love Dodge Center."
"Greg is young, and he's doing a great job getting embedded in the community," Bennett said. "We want to get more involved in the community."
A grand opening is planned for the store beginning mid-January for four weeks.