In the small Wisconsin town of Shawano, Charlie Harvey is a big man. Charlie is an entrepreneur and a visionary. In this small town he is a larger than life patriarch with a big heart.
Charlie’s vision was to build a new 45,000 SF state of the art facility just down the street from his existing 20,000 SF store. His current facility and equipment were old. The building dated back to the 1960’s. Maintenance costs, energy and overhead costs were continuing to increase and had become a significant burden. In 2009 Mehmert Store Services was hired and charged with the task of designing an affordable, medium square footage store that offered big store amenities but made economic sense in a small town setting. As the design process evolved and Charlie realized the complexities of building a grocery store he decided it would be in his best interest to have the Mehmert team involved throughout the entire process. As a result Mehmert would act as an owner’s rep throughout the construction process. Our team would also serve as equipment manager for the project and would design and provide décor for the store.
Despite being in a small market competition is formidable. There are two large big box grocers in town fighting for market share. The new store needed to retain the previous stores small hometown appeal. At the same time the primary goal was to enhance and showcase the perimeter of the store. The new store was designed to make an impression as soon as you walk in. The Mehmert team designed the store so that Produce is front and center. The desired effect was to walk into a fresh produce market. The design and décor really deliver. The small shop feel is consistent throughout the entire store. This was accomplished by creating small venues within the larger whole. These smaller venues help to create a personable experience for the shopper. Mehmert created a functional, easy shopping store that is large enough but has a small market feel.
Beyond its visual appeal the new store is a technical tour de force. Many innovative features are incorporated within the design. Energy management and using rejected heat from the rack are two of the most significant contributors. Building automation systems control lighting and HVAC systems. Occupancy sensors are installed in offices and restrooms to provide further lighting control. Heat from the rack is used to heat the back room and to provide hot water for the store. Door merchandisers with LED lighting were used vs. traditional open cases. Electronic valves and high efficiency fan motors were used in the cases. All are effective measures that contribute to keep operating costs down. The door merchandisers actually are a significant step forward. They are very effective in merchandising products. They help to reduce the initial rack size and cost by being up to 35% more efficient than open cases. An additional benefit is that there is no spill out of cold air from the door cases like there is with traditional open cases. Lastly they are cheaper to run than open cases. An energy management system is in place to monitor hood functions in the kitchen. A vent-less dishwasher is used within the warewashing function. It is just one more step towards keeping overhead and energy costs in check now and for years to come.
The new Charlie’s County Market opened in mid May 2011. Hundreds of people gathered for Charlie’s opening event. Customer response to the store has been very favorable. Store sales have exceeded projections. To date sales are up over 25%. Overall Charlie accomplished his goal. He has a modern, functional store that is everything that the city of Shawano and the surrounding area needs.
Once again the Mehmert team displayed its ability to listen to and to understand the customer’s goals. Our staff understands the diverse nature of the martketplace and realizes that one size or solution does not fit every situation. Once again proving that success in today’s challenging economy is not a question of luck. It is important to have the vision but even more important to have a team like Mehmert on your side.