Grocery wholesaler Associated Food Stores (AFS) is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The Salt Lake City-based company recently commemorated the milestone, reemphasizing its commitment to strengthening the grocery experience for independent retailers. The company supplies groceries and other goods to more than 400 independent retailers throughout the Intermountain West and continues to grow its membership with new stores and retailers each year.
AFS was established in 1940 during a time when competition from large chain stores and unfair and inconsistent supplier costs drove many smaller grocers out of business. To fight the challenge, 34 independent Utah grocers joined together to create a warehouse that would enable them to survive the competitive nature of the grocery industry. They understood that the only way to survive was to combine their buying power and opened a warehouse that would allow them to benefit from lower costs while maintaining their independence. AFS says that same fighting spirit continues to drive it 75 years later and has enabled the company to grow and serve retailers in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon.
In addition to combined buying power, AFS says its member stores have access to store development, retail technology and marketing assistance among other resources through the company. AFS entered into retail operations in 1999 and operates 42 stores under the Macey’s, Dan’s, Dick’s Market, Lin’s and Fresh Market banners. With more than 5,500 employees at its corporate offices, distribution center and retail stores, AFS is one of the largest employers in Utah.
AFS also says it is committed to giving back to the communities it serves, working to fight food insecurity with regular donations to Utah Food Bank and Catholic Community services. AFS also supports the American Heart Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, United Way and many other local charities. As part of the 75th anniversary celebration, AFS worked with its vendors to donate 750 personal care kits to Volunteers of America Utah’s homeless youth unit.
“We have had an incredible past and look forward to a bright future filled with many more opportunities to serve our retailers and communities,” said Neal Berube, president and CEO of Associated Food Stores.