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.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.