If things stay on schedule, the former Mickelson’s Market will close at the end of the month and a new entity, The Marketplace, will open at the recovery site development on Highway 131 along the northern edge of Gays Mills.
The old building on Main Street saw water in the floods of August 2007 and June 2008. The new store is located at the foot of the hill overlooking the valley marshes and slough. With a gallery of skylights running the length of the roof, it’s brighter and more open than the old store.
Along with the new site come new plans and opportunities.
Ann Winger is the general manager for The Marketplace. Born and raised in Soldiers Grove, Winger left to attend UW-Madison, receiving her degree in marketing and business.
Winger spent the next 20 years working in the Dells in resort management, helping to open a number of resorts and waterparks. However, family drew her back. Realizing that it was time to be with her mother, Winger was convinced it was time to return to the home of her youth.
Following the floods, Steve and Dori Mickelson entered into a partnership that initially included the Mickelson’s, Cenex-New Horizons and Dave Magland, the former owner of the former Gays Mills Amoco. Magland has since opted to be bought out of the partnership.
It was decided that a manager for the new combined operation would be sought.
Winger had attended school with the Mickelsons. Steve encouraged her to apply for the management position, which she did, meeting with David Neal, the General Manager of Cenex new Horizon Supply Co-op.
With Winger in the general manager slot at the Marketplace, Steve Mickelson’s role is redefined. Mickelson has chosen to not only be an owner, he also is continuing as an employee. He will be running the meat department with some part-time help.
“I need to do something. This is what I know,” explained Mickelson. “It’s not time to retire.”
For now though, Mickelson, Neal and Winger are sharing responsibility for the project management of the new building under construction.
The new space is a combined grocery store, convenience store and gas station. Convenience items will be located near the east doors with a quick-checkout stand that faces the gasoline pumps. Located beyond those will be an expanded grocery store with a broader offering both on the shelves and in the deli and bakery department. Regular checkout lanes face the south parking lot for grocery shoppers.
“The improved kitchen will allow us to better meet group requirements,” explained Winger. “We are expanding the bakery to include cakes and more baked goods, plus we’ll still have the salads and fresh sandwiches.”
“We’ll also have expanded hours,” added Winger.
The new store will be open from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Winger would like to see the store develop it’s offering of locally produced foods. She is also seeking feedback from the community on what they want on the shelves.
“If we can get it in, I want to do as much as we can,” says Winger. “We may not be able to get every last thing, but we can do more.”
Already, the Marketplace has moved to a new wholesale supplier as they work to keep prices down so that people don’t feel like they must drive to a larger town for their shopping.
What won’t be traveling north to the new location from the combined businesses are the shop services from the soon to close Cenex New Horizons. Automotive services such as mechanical repair and tire sales will disappear.
Most of the employees have chosen to move with the relocation and rearrangement of the business. Marsha Swiggum, the current manager at the Cenex New Horizons, will be a familiar face, helping man the deli and gas counters in the new store. Winger expects the new store to employ approximately 15 people.
According to Winger, the old location of Mickelson’s was probably ideal for accessibility, but she does not foresee the lack of foot access to the development having a negative impact on business.
“People still need gas and they still need groceries,” she pointed out. “I hope to see better foot and bicycle access, though. This area is perfect for silent sports.”