Festival Foods opened a new store Friday in Madison, Wisconsin, and its 50,000-s.f. size makes it unique for the chain, said Mark Skogen, owner and CEO.
“It is a departure from our normal format, a little bit smaller, and we have fresh product on one side of the store, dry product on the other, which is different for us as well, but I think it flows well and will be easy to shop like our others,” Skogen told The Shelby Report’s Geoff Welch, who attended an open house for the new location on April 7.
“We’re proud of this one because we’ve gone away from our normal layout,” Skogen added. “We don’t know how it will play out in the end, but we believe that anytime we can depart from what we are normally doing, it’s kind of good feeling to step outside of the box a little bit.”
Skogen said the store has a “very urban feel,” but also is bright and airy, with more natural light thanks to more natural glass. There is an entire wall of windows on the East Washington side.
Skogen said the site was chosen because of the dense population in the area, known as the Madison Isthmus. The new Festival Foods is located at 810 East Washington Street, just blocks from the state capitol, and there is abundant housing surrounding it. There also will be housing above the new Festival Foods. Work started on the project about three years ago. It took that long because of the structure that will be built over the top of it.
It fills a void as well, as there was no full-service grocery store in the area.
One of the most striking elements inside the store is the use of ash trees in the design and construction. These are trees from Madison that would have been felled anyway due to emerald ash borer disease. Festival Foods has worked with WholeTrees Architecture & Structures before to bring the unique feature to other stores.
“These trees were going nowhere and they’ve got another life in here,” Skogen said. “It creates quite an interesting look and it also is a real green initiative.”
The Washington Avenue store features sushi, a salad and hot food bar and extensive deli offerings. It also offers in-store dining, a community conference room and a Tot Spot, which is Festival Foods’ supervised in-store child care service. The new store employs 200 people.
“It’s a great store. Even if you don’t live here, if you’re in town, drive by. Check it out. It’s something different,” Skogen said. “We’re going to have great people, fresh products and a fun place to shop.”
The new store opening is just one event in what will be a busy year for the retailer. Festival Foods will open three more locations, in Menasha, Somers and Green Bay. When they open, the chain’s store count will rise to 25.
Find photos of the new Madison store here.