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In Marketplace

A peak inside the Oak Creek Woodman's Market.

In Marketplace

Woodman's Markets: 100 percent employee-owned and growing.

Woodman's Markets get mixed reviews from shoppers


More than 90 years ago, the first Woodman's, which was a produce stand, opened in Janesville, Wis. The business tried on a few different names over the years – Woodman's Grocery, Woodman's Super Service-Grocery Store and Woodman's Food Market – before settling on what it's called today: Woodman's Markets.

Currently, there are 13 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois. Milwaukee-area shoppers are probably most familiar with the location in Oak Creek, which opened in 2008, or the Menomonee Falls' Woodman's. According to Clint Woodman, the vice president of the company, a Waukesha location will open next year on the corner of 164 and Main Street.

"We're starting the demolition process in two months and hoping to open in late summer or early fall of 2013," says Woodman.

The Waukesha location will be the 15th Woodman's. The 14th is in the process of being built in Sun Prairie, Wis.

In 2001, the first Woodman's Market opened outside of Wisconsin in Rockford, Ill. Two more stores opened in Illinois shortly afterward: one in Carpentersville in 2004 and another in North Aurora in 2006.

In 1978, Woodman's started an Employee Stock Ownership Trust for their employees. Woodman's to this day is a 100 percent employee-owned operation. After seven years, full-time employees become fully vested and from that point on receive 15 percent of their earnings in company stock. When the employee retires or parts with the company, the stock is paid out.

Woodman says one of the keys to his company's success is that their prices are consistently lower than the competitors'.

"Price, variety and fast, efficient service have always been our selling points," says Woodman.

The large "warehouse-style" stores offer a full-line of groceries. The selection ranges from aisles of munchies to organic, ethnic and gluten-free sections. Plus, Woodman's has a really good bakery.

Woodman says the stores are able to keep prices low because they buy direct from manufacturers. Also, they do not accept credit cards – cash, check or debit cards only – which saves on credit card costs.

Woodman says the no-credit card policy isn't an issue with shoppers because they realize how much they are saving with the current system. Prior to 2004, Woodman's only accepted cash or check.

Mandy Wilson lives in Oak Creek and shops at Woodman's twice a month. She says it's just a fun place to shop, but it's important to set aside enough time.

"The place is huge. It's not an in-and-out type store. But if you have enough time, it's worth it," she says. "It's actually kind of fun."

The massive size for some, however, is a turn-off. Mike Dansk and his wife, Julie, visited once or twice when the Oak Creek store first opened, but never went back.

"It's sprawling; goes on and on. If I forgot something, having to double back was impossible. I couldn't remember where anything was," he says. "I need smaller. Not too small, but definitely a smaller grocery store."

Woodman's supports a large number of community organizations, including American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Clubs, Goodwill Industries, Make-A-Wish Foundation, March of Dimes and Special Olympics. They also support dozens of pancake breakfasts, walks, fun fairs and other fundraisers at associations, churches and schools every year.

"The communities we build in are important to us," says Woodman.


Talkbacks

transfrmr | March 21, 2012 at 12:18 p.m. (report)

The liquor dept is great - solid selection of craft beers (many of them cold and ready to pop open when you get home), wines were good - and prices were pretty good. The produce was meh - in some cases, some of the stuff was pretty sad looking and beaten up. They had a good selection of cheeses, but some of the stuff was actually spoiled in the case, so they must not pay attention to the temp or condition of the food very closely. Didn't look much at the canned/dry goods. I was somewhat surprised by the decor in the brand new Falls store - maybe they saved money by using file and paneling from the 1970s. The brown tile in parts of the store reminded me of the floor that you see in most dingy McDs and Wendys. I wasn't expecting anything fancy, but the materials that they used just seemed SO out of place with any other new strip mall/fast food joints. Will definitely go back - but probably only for booze.

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psychobilly | March 21, 2012 at 9:47 a.m. (report)

Woodman's is awesome!!

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Oilsalesman | March 21, 2012 at 8:06 a.m. (report)

I went to Woodman's once and will probably never go back. I checked several places where there were suppose to be maps with none to be found. The store is huge and the selection looked ok but I don't have all day to go grocery shopping. I went for the meat but while it was cheap I prefer the local butcher for decent prices and good quality meats. My wife bascially told me to not go back - she wasn't happy with the produce or the meat.. The liquor store looked cool but again we are not going to drive 20 minutes to go by liquor. I had no idea about the no credit card policy. I found out in line not a big deal since you can still use your debit card.

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CoolerKing | March 21, 2012 at 7:16 a.m. (report)

It is a good supermarket but it does have some flaws. The good: Huge selection, great ethnic and organic section and I save a lot more money compared to shopping at the competition (Must be the credit card thing. Less fees for the store.). The bad: Poor deli counter, meat department is so-so, some produce they sell is not good. Although I shop there regularly, the romaine lettuce is consistently bad. Another good point: The liquor department is AMAZING! Tons of micro and craft beers and a huge selection of wines and liquor.

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devidia | March 20, 2012 at 3:07 p.m. (report)

I LOVE Woodman's!!!! I shop at the Oak Creek location every Saturday and I save a TON of money there. The huge size is not an issue because I know where everything is and I like to walk. Even if I am in a hurry, I can still get done shopping in a short amount of time. Their prices still beat everyone else around (even Aldi in some cases). Pick 'n Save has gotten downright ridiculous with their prices of late and I hope Woodman's builds more stores in the area and causes Pick 'n Save to really sit up and take notice!!!

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