Insight News

Feb 11th

Cub Foods: Fueling social and economic well-being

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hotbox cub-organic-produceWest Broadway Cub Foods' involvement in the North Minneapolis community cannot be overstated. Since filling the vacancy left by Target in 2005, Cub Foods has been not only a grocery store run for and by the people it serves, but has also been instrumental in the community's social and economic wellbeing. Over 80 percent of its 120 person workforce hail from the Northside, creating a vibrant and communal workforce that is beneficial to both patrons and employees. Pia Kolton, head customer service manager, relates, "We have so many religions, races and nationalities represented, and in eight years, I've never had an issue between my employees; everybody works so well together." Cub's low rate of turnover is indicative of a supportive work environment; for example, 24 of the 30 cashiers have been at Cub for 8 years or more. Store manager John Tonsager speaks to the importance of this continuity by saying, "it's important for people to come in and see their neighbors and friends working here; even though it's a really big store, that helps to make you feel like you're shopping in a neighborhood store."

The West Broadway Cub is the only full service, non-discount grocery store in the North Minneapolis zip code. In addition to offering the area's largest selection of household necessities and fresh foods year-round, it has an in-house pharmacy, a TCF Bank, and is conveniently located on the bus line.

cub-meat-deptFew other grocery stores in the city have such extensive offerings of foods catering to diverse food cultures. Particularly within the last year, Cub has been striving to expand its selection of healthy and natural food. There is a section devoted to organic produce, and in the dairy aisle shoppers can choose from multiple types of organic milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs. Looking for organic peanut butter? Look next to the traditional Jiffy. Throughout the store, shoppers can find organic products mixed in with non-organic items. 

Vegetarians and vegans can stock their carts with scores of meat alternatives from popular brands like Morning Star and Boca Burger in Aisle 2, right next to Amy's frozen pizzas and other organic frozen foods. 

For those looking for healthy meat, department manager Don Kutz has made sure Cub has everything you need. Shortly after Kutz came to West Broadway from the Hudson Cub a year ago, he started stocking Smart Chicken, a supplier of all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free, humanely-raised and air-chilled chicken. Shoppers immediately responded, and the tasty wings, drumsticks and whole chickens almost flew off the shelf. Kutz informs that now the West Broadway Cub is number two in Smart Chicken sales for the entire five-state area. 

Alongside the Smart Chicken are other all-natural meats, including grass-fed beef and gourmet sausages, many from the same brands found at natural foods co-ops. Best of all, customers don't pay boutique prices for these products.

The deli section has always been popular, but over the last month Cub has implemented a new fresh, ready-made salad and sandwich program. Once again this healthy initiative has been very successful; the West Broadway Cub Foods is number two in sales of these salads out of all Jerry's Foods Cub stores. Tonsager, who favors the Chicken Caesar salad, says, "People have really been responding to some of the new items we put out, and it's been fun to see."

The West Broadway Cub has always found ways to support the social health of Northsiders. Tonsager lists the various community events Cub is a key part of, including the well-known EJ Henderson Youth Foundation Thanksgiving Turkey giveaway, which provided 3,500 families with turkeys and fixings in 2012. The project, now in its 5th year, is coordinated with Sherman Patterson and Nicole Archibald from the mayor's office. The giveaway has always taken place at Cub, and this past year, Supervalu and Cub Corporate were lead sponsors. Other private, nonprofit and civic organizations participate with donations of goods or volunteers, including the National Guard, the Minneapolis Police and Fire Departments.

Tonsager, who joined the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition's board of directors in the fall of 2011, also worked to have Cub partner with Snapple to sponsor the 2012 FLOW Northside Arts Crawl last July. "I thought it was a fantastic event! What a great way to bring the community together from one end of Broadway to the other... It was important for us to be involved because it's an event that is important to the community."

Cub was also a key resource following the 2011 tornado, and continuously provides support in the form of product and gift card donations to community organizations and events like National Night Out.

North Minneapolis businesses of all sizes can learn a lot from John Tonsager and his team at West Broadway Cub. Hire from the community and support the community. And for a healthy business, sell healthy food.

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