CROSSROADS EMPLOYEES INCLUDE, from left, Brooke Goyette, produce manager; Fran Wrezzes, deli department; Carl Tednes, meat department manager; and new manager Mark Anderson. Ian Stepleton photo
by Ian Stepleton
Last fall, Crossroads Market in Green Lake found itself at its namesake: a crossroad.
Customers knew it, too. One loyal shopper even organized via Facebook a flash mob to shop there, noting that because of “small population, lack of inventory and many other setbacks, the store does not flourish.”
So, what did Crossroads do when it reached the fork in the road? It forged a new path forward.
This past winter, former owner Dr. Tom Willett sold Green Lake’s only grocery store to Pat and Lynn McConnell, best known as the owners of Flash Trucking.
Now, with new ownership, new management and new ideas, it appears Crossroads Market is moving forward toward better serving the community.
Just weeks after the flash mob of shoppers, the McConnells already were on the scene, purchasing far more than just a bag of chips.
By January, the McConnells were interviewing a new manager, and on March 1, they took over the reins of the store.
“They really felt Green Lake needs a grocery store and really wanted to be a bigger part of the community,” said Mark Anderson, the new manager of the store. “They were adamant they wanted to see this store be a part of Green Lake so people would have somewhere to go [locally].”
And if there’s a theme to how the store functions these days, it’s with that community focus.
With the new management, the store is offering a better selection, new events on site — such as brat frys and farmer’s markets — and a renewed spirit.
It’s all about giving customers reason to shop local — something customers might have had a hard time doing just a few months back.
“If a person came with a list of 10 items they were going to be hard-pressed to find three,” Anderson said. “We need to have the people of Green Lake come here to shop [and be able to] fill up their carts.”
To that end, Anderson was given the license to greatly expand the store’s selection, essentially changing Crossroads into a full-service grocery store once again.
“We’ve added quite a few items to the shelves: we added 450 items we didn’t carry before,” Anderson said. “The majority of them are in grocery, but we did add some in dairy as well, and in health and beauty aids.”
This matches the concerns he was hearing from customers.
“The biggest request was just [the ability to] find the items they were looking for. That … drives people away,” Anderson said. “That’s a stigma we are still trying to overcome.”
To achieve that goal, “We’ve added some more natural products, some more organic products especially in dairy: some almond milk, soy milk …,” he said. “In the grocery, we’ve just got a wider array of things. I had a guest one time who had 37 items on his list, and he got all 37 … That’s pretty good.”
Customers, he explained, have responded happily.
“Very positive [response so far],” Anderson said. “It’s just been amazing, the support we get from Green Lake and the surrounding areas.”
Attracting clientele sometimes is about more than just what is offered on the shelves. It’s about the experience.
For that reason, Crossroads Market has been updating other points of interaction with customers.
The store has a new website, and staff now all feature the same uniforms.
Crossroads also is working to give Green Lake residents other reasons to visit the store, beyond traditional grocery shopping.
“[We will hold] a farmer’s market,” Anderson said. “We’re going to have those every Tuesday from 8 to 1.
“Then, [we’re planning] brat fries on Fridays and Saturdays for nonprofit organizations; that’s a great way for people to come in … We want to be a part of the community.”
Other changes are on the horizon, too.
“We’re going to be [expanding] our wine and liquor department;” Anderson said. “… We’re going to more of an energy-efficient lighting in the store and the coolers; we’ll be looking at having a new software system for the point-of-sale [registers, which will mean] no more signing [on paper for credit cards].”
Customers, though, already have responded to the improvements made at Crossroads Market.
“Last week was our highest customer count we’ve had,” Anderson said, soon after the change of ownership “We’ve increased our customer count almost up 25 to 40 percent, and our sales are up almost 50 percent, too, so the basket size has gotten bigger too. I think that can be attributed to us having more items.”
Meanwhile, Anderson emphasized some things haven’t changed at Crossroads, such as its cheerful employees and fast service.
“They already had those principles down already,” he said. “… They are all really good at engaging guests … Brooke in the produce department is really good at that.”
Crossroads Market also continues to feature the same departments overall, including dairy, deli (though it’s been expanded), grocery, wine and liquor, and frozen foods.
A CHN Pharmacy also continues to operate in the store.
And there’s still Carl Tednes, who’s been there all along. “We still have Carl in the meat department; he’s been here since Day 1,” Anderson said.
To find out more about the store, stop in at Crossroads, located at 762 Commercial Ave. (just off County Road A), call 294-3340 or visit www.crossroadsgl.com.