Home » Superior’s Ideal Market Known For Customer Service, Quality Meat

Superior’s Ideal Market Known For Customer Service, Quality Meat

Ideal Market
Shannon and Jen McCord

by Mary Margaret Stewart / staff writer

In Shannon McCord’s words, “It’s always been a family affair at Ideal Market” in Superior, Nebraska.

McCord’s grandfather founded the store in 1949. Then, his father ran it upon returning from service in the U.S. Navy. McCord, the third-generation operator, took over straight out of college in 1998. His wife, Jen, joined him in 2006 following their wedding.

Ideal Market

Asked what’s made the store successful over the years, McCord attributes it to his family’s tenacity.

“My grandfather and my father were definitely really aggressive in the business. They took risks back then,” he said.

“Probably the story that I always liked hearing my grandfather tell me the most was he got an entire truckload of potatoes for a sale…and everybody thought he was just insane to bring in such an amount.

“But he said he brought in enough business to grow the bank account. He saw the benefits of taking risks like that… [it] definitely got repetitive traffic coming in, to where we grew more than others. I think that’s what built the store more than anything else.

“Back in the early days, there were seven grocery stores in town, and throughout the decades, it’s come down to just us. We’ve gotten bigger and the other ones have dropped off.”

While Ideal Market has been in business for 70-plus years, 2020 was not easy – which was the universal narrative for the grocery industry. McCord said keeping products on the shelf was Ideal’s biggest challenge.

“You just didn’t know what was going to be out. And it took a lot of hard work to try to figure out what your warehouse had or what they were expecting to get in…just jumping on anything that you could find,” he said.

“If you could put something on your shelf, it was going to sell. It was a good time to figure out what items you just need to get rid of. If there was something left on your shelf that still had dust on it, that was definitely something nobody wanted even in a pandemic.

“We had to think outside the box…you’d have to find different avenues to get the product and decide whether it’s worth it because you couldn’t find product. But the ones that did have it, they’ve marked it up so much it was just like highway robbery. You don’t want to have that image.”

One of the ways McCord navigated supply chain issues was by keeping his ears to the ground, which in turn, made Ideal Market a go-to spot in the midst of out-of-stocks across the state and the country.

“I think we did a really good job with just making sure that we covered all our bases – watching the news and seeing things on the coastlines that people were running out of…so we loaded up on that while we still could,” he said. “We kept it longer than what most people did, and we’ve got a really good reputation for, ‘If Ideal Market doesn’t have it, nobody has it.’”

Part of staying ahead of the curve with COVID-19 included upping safety protocols and introducing new technologies.

“When we started seeing COVID cases pop up at the beginning, we made a requirement that both our customers and our employees wear masks…being in a small community with elderly people, a great majority of my clientele were very appreciative. I got a lot of compliments for it. Of course, the ones that were mad about it, they bark the loudest. But I had so many customers say, ‘I’m just so grateful that we have somebody as cautious-minded as you.’”

McCord, who serves on the board of directors for the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association, added that the store incurred the cost to provide the masks and gloves at no cost to customers.

Also during 2020, Ideal Market began using digital marketing and coupons, which he thinks is “going to pay off in the future for us.”

“The other thing that we’ve started doing this year is curbside pickup and ordering online [with Freshop]…before COVID, I was not interested in online ordering,” he said. “I just thought for my size, it would never pay for the fees it would take to run online ordering.

“But after this, my warehouse showed me that there is a group out there that charges you a percentage for the number of sales you have. And with them having a fluctuating feed, which moves right in line with how much business I was doing, that made sense to me. We were able to get it up and running by the second or third week of March.”

Throughout the pandemic, Ideal’s meat and produce department offerings have been a staple for business.

“We are a small town of less than 2,000 people, so customer service is really high up on our priority list. Trying to keep the low prices while keeping the customer services is definitely a balancing act, but we do it quite well,” McCord said.

“It seems like you see a lot of stores going through pre-packaged meat, where we still cut our own…I think that’s where we can really hang our hat – people coming in to take advantage of getting the good quality meats and good quality produce. That’s something that we can really go against the big box stores.”

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