Peterson’s Fresh Market in Riverton, Utah, has a long history of serving its community. Louis “Lute” Peterson and his youngest son, Bruce, founded the business in 1938, when they rented space in a local building.
When a local landmark church, “The Old Dome Church,” was torn down in 1940, Lute Peterson bought some of the salvaged building materials to construct a market.
Bruce Peterson and his wife, Dona, took over the business in 1951. Through several locations, phases of construction and remodels, the business continued to grow with the town of Riverton. Operations of the store transitioned to two of Bruce and Dona’s children, Monte and Jan. Today, they own the 54,000-square-foot full-service grocery store.
Daily operations are managed by a team including fourth-generation Brandon Peterson, who serves as store manager.
The independent grocer employs more than 100 team members and includes traditional full-service grocery departments, a scratch bakery, traditional butcher shop, gourmet popcorn and confectionary, and a compounding pharmacy.
Keeping it in the family
Brandon Peterson got his start working in the family business in 1980, stocking, pushing carts, cleaning and working cash registers before becoming an apprentice in the store’s traditional meat shop.
He graduated with associate degrees in business management and marketing from Salt Lake Community College before attending the WAFC University of Southern California’s Food Industry Management program in 2005.
Peterson said he sought out additional industry experience working with Albertson’s, Haggen Food and Drug, Macey’s Food Stores and wholesaler Associated Food Stores Salt Lake City.
Returning to the family store in 2013, he managed the move and remodel into the current building.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought the Riverton community together in unexpected ways, Brandon Peterson said.
“Vendor partners, family members, neighbors and friends offered help stocking shelves. Customers in the community showed an increased gratitude for the services of frontline workers,” he said.
“Dedicated team members worked long shifts to serve the community. We came together to take care of our friends and neighbors, to feed their families and to provide the items their households needed.”
Peterson said they also learned how quickly the market can change.
“Local, state and federal governments, as well as health departments, kept making decisions that would change the safety protocols to stay open. The impact of government on our operations was immediately noticeable,” Peterson said.
“We were grateful for partnerships with our local Utah Food Industry Association, as well as specialists at our Associated Food Stores supplier who kept up on best practices, interacted with government on our behalf and helped to procure PPE and safety products for our team.”
Supply chain and inflation challenges continue to have an impact on his store’s operations, Peterson said, “similar to the impact on our industry and economy.”
“Our wholesale partners have worked hard to procure and deliver product,” he said. “We are grateful for our relationship with Associated Food Stores and rely on them to negotiate with national manufacturers for our interests.”
Peterson noted that labor costs are increasing and recruiting new team members is a challenge.
“We are fortunate to have a great foundation of department level leadership with scratch baking, butchering and other great skills, as well as great relationships within our community,” he said. “Recruiting new team members into the retail grocery industry will be hard. We focus on offering schedule flexibility, team culture, closed on Sundays and educational opportunities to recruit new talent.”
Special offerings stand out
Peterson’s Fresh Market stands out from its competitors in a variety of ways, according to Peterson. It offers a scratch bakery with many “unique recipes, quality products and variety items that prepack bakeries can’t offer.”
The store’s signature cookie programs and custom cake decorating are popular. “We like to say it is the way you would bake if you had the time,” he said.
The traditional butcher shop features handmade bratwursts, fresh hamburger patties, whole-muscle ground beef (no coarse grind), seasoned meal solutions and ready-to-eat meat items. Peterson said the store’s semi-annual Mega Meat Sale is a huge stock up event for customers.
The Sweet Shop and Confectionary offers more than 30 varieties of gourmet popcorn, roasted nuts, fresh fudge and hand dipped ice cream.
Local means local
Peterson’s Fresh Market has been a part of the Riverton community for decades, with five generations of the Peterson family having lived and worked there. Many of its team members also are multi-generational or have additional family members working there.
“Our commitment to being local is more than just a tag line or marketing slogan,” Peterson said. “We live, raise our kids, shop and work here.”
Being part of the community means supporting it through financial and product donations. The Peterson family supports team members in volunteering their time for 4-H, Little League and other organizations. The store also backs fundraising activities for Girl Scouts, local fire and police departments and the Utah Food Bank.
Peterson enjoys working in the grocery industry, which has allowed him to meet many interesting people.
“I have great relationships with my co-workers, both past and present. I feel like our industry matters,” Peterson said. “We make a difference in our community. We help our neighbors. And we get to make friends while we work.”
For more information, visit petersonsfreshmarket.com.