For decades, Mackenthun’s Fine Foods in Waconia has offered locally grown products such as produce, eggs, dairy items and other products. For the second consecutive year, Mackenthun’s commitment to offering local products has earned the store recognition from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).
At the annual Minnesota Grocers Association’s industry luncheon held on May 1, Mackenthun’s was a winner in the 2nd annual “Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year Awards.” Mackenthun’s was named “Retailer of the Year” in the Single Store category for the second year in a row. Festival Foods (Retail Group of 9 Stores or Less) and Lunds and Byerlys (Retail Group of 10 or More Stores) were the other winners.
It’s a nice honor for Mackenthun’s, which, as noted, has long embraced offering local products.
“We’ve been working with local farmers for years and now that it’s a Department of Agriculture award, it’s given us the opportunity to share more about how we support local farmers,” said Jessa Theis, the marketing director at Mackenthun’s.
“We have farmers coming to us asking if we’d like to sell their product,” noted Jaime Mackenthun, the director of operations at Mackenthun’s. “At first, we had to go out and find them.”
Mackenthun’s features products from 40+ local farmers, the largest outfit being the Untiedts family farm in Waverly. In some cases, produce is on the vine in the morning and on the shelf that afternoon.
“We like to support the local farmers and offer our customers the freshest products,” Mackenthun said. “Our customers want products that are as local as possible. The customers want to know where their products are coming from and they’re glad to know (that at Mackethun’s) the products are coming from Minnesota.”
“We go up against a lot of really good stores and having that competition, it helps us to inform our customers about the products and tell their story, (like this item) came from Watertown, Minn.,” Theis said.
The awards were presented by Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and Jamie Pfuhl, President of the Minnesota Grocers Association. Frederickson said it’s an honor to recognize the grocers who are committed to offering locally grown products in their stores.
“These grocers have answered the demand and have made it convenient for their customers to find fresh, locally grown foods,” Frederickson said. “In turn, they’re supporting local farmers and local economies.”
Winning entries were selected based on the number of Minnesota Grown products and the number of Minnesota farmers that the grocer carried. Judges also considered how the grocer promoted these products to their customers through ads, displays and the use of promotional venues like Facebook pages and other social media channels. A percentage of the points awarded was based on fan voting on the Minnesota Grown Facebook page.
Will Mackenthun’s pull off a third consecutive victory next year? Theis and Mackenthun hope so. Plans are in the works to create new signage to help showcase the Minnesota Grown products, continue outdoor produce sales, and incorporate locally grown items in the deli, meat and bakery departments.
Mackenthun’s is also using technology to help spread the word about its local products.
“As we get new products in as the seasons change, we post that on our Facebook page,” said Theis, who noted that locally grown tomatoes will be available in a couple of weeks — and it’ll be on Facebook when it happens.
In addition to a commemorative plaque, winners receive the exclusive rights to use the “Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year” logo in their ads and displays for the next year.
Contact Todd Moen at firstname.lastname@example.org