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Father, Daughter Working Together To Expand Maurer’s Market

Jeff and Kristie Maurer

Jeff and Kristie Maurer, father and daughter, are independent grocers in Wisconsin. 

Dad owns Maurer’s Market in Wisconsin Dells, where his daughter is the store director. He also now is a minority owner in a store – Fresh Madison Market – he opened on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. Kristie Maurer is planning to open Maurer’s Urban Market on the south side of Madison in 2023.

Jeff Maurer has worked in the grocery industry most of his life, primarily with independents. He opened the Fresh Madison Market in 2009, and that is where his daughter joined him in the business. He later sold majority interest of that store to his wholesaler. He bought the Wisconsin Dells store – a 20,000-square-foot traditional format – in 2016.

Kristie Maurer said she has been working with the city of Madison on establishing Maurer’s Urban Market for some time. A grocer now operating in the area will be closing, which will leave the community in a food desert. 

At 24,000 square feet, Maurer’s Urban Market will be located on the first floor of a multi-story apartment complex. It will have standard offerings, such as grocery, frozen, dairy, deli and bakery.

“This will be a traditional format,” Kristie Maurer said. “The demographic area is very unique in that it’s not downtown Madison but it is urban. It’s just at the cusp.”

She said there are five neighborhood associations that make up the demographics. They include academic professors and college students, along with Hispanic, African-American and Asian populations. 

The apartment complex which will be above the grocery store is being built in partnership with a nonprofit, Moving Out, that provides housing to people with disabilities – mental, emotional and physical.

“It will be a very diverse group of people, which I’m really excited about. It will range from everything from working professionals who are living, working and playing downtown to some commuters, some young kids, some older people – so it’ll be a very large, wide-span demographic,” Kristie Maurer said.

Plans for the design of the new store are underway, and Kristie Maurer said they plan to survey the neighborhood associations to make sure the store represents everyone.

As independent retailers, she and her father are cognizant of the “current environment with labor and the challenge that labor presents.” She said that makes the design more difficult.

Kristie Maurer said she learned about operating urban stores at the Fresh Madison Market store on the UW Madison campus. “My experience is in multi-story grocery stores in an urban setting,” she said.

One of Jeff Maurer’s concerns as his daughter moves forward with the new store is “the continuation of the supply chain issues that we can’t seem to get past.” He said, fortunately, they have more than 100 different vendors that supply the Wisconsin Dells store, giving them access to different products.

“If we’re out of one particular brand of item, we spend a lot of time searching out a comparable, similar brand so that we can continue to offer that commodity to the customer,” Jeff Maurer said.

Inflation woes

As far as the impact of inflation, Jeff Maurer said it is a major concern to them as it is to other grocers around the country.

“We are fortunate to be part of the IGA network, so we have access to a lot of other retailers and we’re all basically saying the same thing – inflation is causing high prices, very high prices,” he said.

This translates to continual price changes and increases. Customers are looking for ways to save money by cutting back on purchases and buying smaller sizes or more private label products, he said.

“We’re continually looking for ways that we can help our customers and our community with trying to control the retail prices and control inflation. I can tell you that we have not raised our margins at all,” Jeff Maurer said. “We only increase a retail price when our cost of goods increase. So unfortunately, our margin percent has taken a significant, negative impact.” 

He added they are looking for any opportunity to cut costs to control or reduce expenses in an effort to make sure the store’s bottom line remains strong.

Round-up program

Independent grocers are closely tied to their communities and Maurer’s Market is no different. One way the family gives back is through an annual Round-Up program. 

Customers have an opportunity at checkout to round up their bill to the nearest dollar. That amount is then donated to local nonprofits. A calendar is made at the beginning of the year, with the nonprofit recipient rotating each month.

The program has proved popular with customers.

“We’ve seen the community really love it because we pick only local organizations that are in and around Wisconsin Dells and have some sort of tie to the community here,” Kristie Maurer said.

She added that it’s not uncommon to overhear customers at the register talk about which organization will be benefiting from the next month’s Round Up program.

Jeff Maurer said in the past 24 months of the program, customers have donated about $75,000 to the various nonprofits.

“Hopefully, that has helped a lot of community members who may be going through a tough time or need help in some way,” he said. 

Kristie Maurer agreed, adding that she loves the community engagement aspect of the program. “It’s a little way that everyone can take part in helping out,” she said. “It’s 10 cents here, 20 cents there, and it’s what people can really give. It accumulates, and I love to see that happen here.”

Looking to future

While Kristie Maurer continues to plan her new store in south Madison, her dad is standing by with advice and support. Jeff Maurer would like to retire in the next five to six years, at which point she will take over the company, as well as his minority interest in Fresh Madison Market.

For more information, visit maurersmarket.com.

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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