MUSKEGON, Mich. – A new era in the Muskegon County grocery market is being launched by Menominee-based L.M. Foods, new owners of the former Plumb’s chain of stores.
This historic change comes with a new name for the chain: Great Lakes Fresh Market. The name is a nod to the stores’ primary distributor, Great Lakes Foods. In part, it reflects what Great Lakes Fresh Market hopes to bring to Muskegon County: a fresh new take on quality and service.
After 80 years as a local grocer, Plumb’s stores in Muskegon, North Muskegon, and Whitehall are operating under new ownership, with which comes dramatic improvements to everything from state-of-the-art meat cases to product selection.
Great Lakes Foods has been a part of the Michigan economy since 1891. Through the years, they’ve become known for their commitment to quality service, products, and community support. Great Lakes Fresh Market aims to provide a customer-centered grocery shopping experience unmatched in the area while filling a market segment that is currently underserved.
“We are excited to bring the Great Lakes Fresh Market concept to the area,” said President Dan Gentz. “As a customer, you can expect not only high quality produce, bakery, deli, and meat cut fresh in-store, but also the highest level customer service. A customer service specialist is being hired to ensure our patrons are taken care of. We want to be considered leaders in our community, so you can expect a high level of community involvement as well.”
Gentz and his wife Lisa are relocating to the Muskegon area so that he can oversee operations at all three locations. He has 25 years of grocery management experience throughout the Midwest, as well as experience abroad as a Director of Perishables in Saudi Arabia. The plan is for Gentz to buy the business so all Great Lakes Fresh Market locations will be locally owned.
Great Lakes Fresh Market stores will be renovated and upgraded in stages over the next several months, with some changes already taking place. In addition to new external signs, new interior decor, and redesigned store floor plans, Great Lakes Fresh Market will also update the meat, bakery, deli, and produce offerings to reflect 21st century grocery trends. Some locations will begin carrying a wider organic selection and specialty wines.
Great Lakes Fresh Market will offer Signature Meats, a fresh approach to meat selection created specifically for independent retailers developed by their distributor, Great Lakes Foods. The Signature Meat Program will include a variety of products like pre-marinated, stuffed, and flavored beef, as well as pork and poultry products. This new offering will be displayed in modern cases with LED lighting and will also decrease the impact of Great Lakes Fresh Market’s carbon footprint.
Great Lakes Fresh Market retained most of the Plumb’s staff members in the transition. The company is in the process of training store employees to deliver consistent customer service, a key factor to small-town grocers that is often overlooked by big box stores. Patrons can expect to see the same friendly faces they’ve known for years when shopping at Great Lakes Fresh Market stores.
“It was important to us to take care of the folks who have been with Plumb’s and who have been loyal to this community,” said L.M. Foods owner Tom Kuber. “Everyone has maintained their seniority, wages, and benefits. They’ve worked hard, they’ve been through a lot, and we’re happy to have them as part of the Great Lakes Fresh Market team.”
Stop by any of the Great Lakes Fresh Market stores and keep an eye on the changes that are happening.
For more information, check out Great Lakes Fresh Market’s weekly flier in the Muskegon Chronicle and Beacon newspapers.