Located in the heart of Central Wisconsin is the small town of Wittenberg. Here, rural countryside surrounds a close knit farming community. Nestled in the hustle and bustle of this small town is Hanke’s Sentry Foods, a family owned and operated grocery store for over 60 years.
But 60 years ago, the needs of the community were vastly different. An impossibly small store with no more space to give, it lacked a deli as well as bakery and hot food offerings. With an equally tiny parking lot and no proper receiving area Hanke’s had overgrown its humble start and customers were beginning to shop elsewhere.
In search of a solution, owners and managers Gary Hanke, Sherry Hersant and Dale Hanke decided a new store with a larger selling area and a full selection of grocery offerings was just the ticket for their small town community.
Plans were set in motion for new ground up construction that would double Hanke’s size and place it back on top of the market as a community destination.
The rural surroundings of the new Hanke’s Sentry weighed heavily in the design of the new store. Keeping with the local aesthetics, décor elements were structured around the countryside community.
A welcoming produce department boasts a wagon-wheeled cart filled to the brim with fresh fruits and vegetables. Nearly twice its original size, patrons now find an easy shopping environment that is both friendly and functional. And, with the increased space, a near cornucopia of items are now available.
Traditional homestead photos splash the walls with color as customers continue throughout the store in to deli, bakery, hot food, and fresh meat. Always a crowd favorite, the fresh meat offerings at Hanke’s now have ample room to shine.
The simple rural-inspired décor continues in to the frozen food department as doors and doors of product greet shoppers with a multitude of options. A single red owl nesting in the stenciled trees may seem out of place to an outsider, but the locals are glad to see an old friend. As a former Red Owl grocery and eventually a Supervalu and now a store under the Sentry banner, Hanke’s has seen many changes throughout its years. Desiring to keep with the history of the old store, its best elements and charming pieces were incorporated in to the new design. An old backlit sign now hangs on the freshly painted walls near frozen food and high resolution photos of the murals that covered the original store are proudly displayed throughout the new one.
Combining the old with the new has proven to be successful at the newly built Hanke’s store. Customers are pleased with the updates and quite impressed with the products that are now available. With a dedication and commitment to their customers, regardless of location, there will always be a bit of the old mixed in with the new. And, in Wittenberg, this is appreciated. Coupled with fresh products and competitive pricing, the new store design has put Hanke’s at the forefront of the community once again. Since opening its doors in November, the new Hanke’s store has seen an increase in sales upwards of 40%, making the new store – with its bits and pieces of the old – a great success.