Leppink’s Food Centers Arriving June 7th
By Ken DeLaat
Area residents will be welcoming a new grocer to Newaygo on Wednesday June 7th when a 7am ribbon cutting ceremony will precede the doors opening at the latest addition to the family of Leppink’s Food Centers
In a recent interview with Newaygo Store Director Charley Zeldenrust and Marketing Manager Arianna Leppink, N3 gathered a bit of history on Leppink’s Food Centers and talked about the upcoming unveiling while touring the Howard City store where Zeldenrust has served as assistant Director under the tutelage of Tom Grypma
Leppink’s Food Centers comes to town with a solid reputation for excellent customer service, competitive prices and a substantial range of products
The business was born in 1928 when Arianne’s great grandfather John who had been a meat cutter for years decided...
...to go into the grocery business opening John Leppinks’ Quality Cash Market in Belding.
From there the business grew behind the efforts of John and his sons who would follow him into the business.
Additional acquisitions and a split into two corporate structures later Leppink's Food Stores are an established name and well respected business throughout mid and west Michigan with stores in Ferrysburg, Stanton, Lakeview, Belding, Howard City, and now,thankfully, Newaygo.
Zeldenrust is enthusiastic about the opening and feels as though the store will more than meet the expectations of community members who have long been speculating as to what this new store is going to look like.
First off we asked about the essentials.
The tour revealed a clean well kept, and nicely laid out facility with a produce section that offers a cornucopia of fresh and colorful selections of fruits, vegetables and more.
There will be a number of general merchandise items including a popular purchase that appears at the stores this time of year, kayaks. Yes you can pick up some milk eggs and coffee and surprise the folks at home when they see the unloading of a kayak with the other items.
How many people will the store employ?
”We’ll be around 60-70 as we get started and as we move forward it will depend on the needs of the store.”
Will the store be larger?
“No we haven’t increased the area but we’re utilizing the space better,” said Zeldenrust. “All that remains from the previous store are the floor tiles and everything else has been gutted.”
“We’re opening on June 7th so it will be a Wacky Wednesday.
I’ve heard of that. Tell me more about it.
“Each Wednesday there are a select few items we pull out of the ad and give even better deals on for just that day. You’ll see balloons attached to the Wacky Wednesday items throughout the store.”
What sets Leppink’s Food Stores apart from other stores?
“We’re seen as small family stores but we’re able to offer competitive prices to the larger chains while being strongly customer service driven,” said Ms. Leppink.”Those are the two things the customer who might not be familiar with us will discover about Leppinks.”
“If you look out in the store you’ll see lots of employees,” said Mr.Zeldenrust. “ The reason being, we don’t want you to be struggling to find an item. We want you to feel free to ask and we have people on the floor available to help.
“We have baggers, we offer take-out to the car and try to provide whatever service our customers needs.”
As you walk around the Howard City facility evidence of the customer service culture Leppink’s Food Centers prides itself on plays itself out in the interactions between staff and the patrons.
It’s wacky Wednesday so checker Janet Hafey is wearing a pizza hat as she converses with each shopper to determine if their visit had met their shopping needs. At the sample station (Yes they will be having samples!) customers converse with the sample staffer about the products being offered as well as inquiring about each other’s families.
The interactions between staff and shoppers have the air of familiarity that effective customer service brings out. There is an easy roll to the way the store seems to operate yet there is an efficiency that is never more apparent than when witnessing the action at the customer service desk. It is well staffed and eager to please.
One experiences a definite family feel to this family business and Zeldenrust referred to it when asked about the positive culture that seems to exist among employees.
“It’s a company that cares about the people who work here. Our employees know they will be treated fairly and given opportunities. I was in their meat department and now after training provided by the company and experience I’m a store director.
What will surprise people about the new store?
“Each store is different,” said Leppink. “We strive for a unique look and try to appeal to the location.”
“For instance, Belding is our home store and we have pictures of our history. In Ferrysburg we have more of a lake look and Howard City is designed to be more country.”
.For Newaygo we’re giving it more of a mixture of lakes and country. I think people will love the decor.”
“And also our customer service. I think people will be surprised at how important it is to us,”
What else would you like people to know about Leppink’s Food Centers?
“Part of being customer driven involves helping people with their grocery needs,” explained Zeldenrust.”If there’s an item you are accustomed to and don’t see it, let us know and we’ll get it for you or let you know if we can’t. We hope people will be talking to us about the store.We’re here to serve the community and we’re only going to be as good as our customers make us.”
“We’re also very involved in our communities,” added Leppink.”We do a lot with schools and other organizations and Newaygo can expect that we’ll want to give back to them as well. We plan on being an active part of this community.”
Leppink’s Food Centers was awarded the Outstanding Retailer by the Michigan Grocers Association this past year being cited for, among many other attributes, their extensive commitment to the communities they serve.
With the most welcome arrival of Leppink’s Food Centers to the fair city of Newaygo, area residents will have the opportunity to experience a new level of customer driven service with a wide variety of product choices, and prices set to compete with larger chains.
And if you happen to need a kayak?
Yeah, they’ve got that covered too.