Richfield Celebrates 10 Years

Guess who just turned 10! This past June, our Richfield location celebrated its tenth anniversary. Opening our third store was a big undertaking: From finding staff to reaching new shoppers to keeping the shelves stocked, there was no shortage of hard work to be done. But with determination, can-do attitude, and old-fashioned “co-op-eration,” the Richfield store became a staple in the local community. To celebrate, we spoke to some of the folks who made the whole thing possible.

Assembling the Team

One of the biggest challenges when launching a new location is finding the team to staff it. Many of the folks who helped open Richfield got their start at other stores, while others were new to the co-op.

Greg Dick, Lakewinds general manager:

When we opened the store, I was honored to be working in the role of store manager. I had previously been the store manager at our Chanhassen location for a number of years and was invited to participate in the new store planning process for the Richfield project.”

Selma Lucarevic, Richfield store manager:

“I was deli supervisor and came from the deli in Chanhassen.”

Mason Piehler, Minnetonka store manager:

“My initial role at the Richfield store was the assistant meat manager. I transferred from the Minnetonka location where I had been employed for a little over two years. “

Niko Tran, Richfield front end manager:

“I was originally hired as a part-time bagger for Richfield’s opening.”

Lauren Styba, HR representative / payroll specialist

“I was hired to work as a cashier/cash clerk at the Richfield store, training in Minnetonka and Chanhassen for a couple of weeks before they opened.”

Prepping for the Big Day

With the store staffed, the next challenge was getting everything ready for opening day. That involved a lot of training, which for new hires meant spending time at our other stores. Here’s Niko’s memory of that time, “I trained in Chanhassen for a couple of weeks to become familiar with the products Lakewinds carries, attain some customer service skills, and practice bagging etiquette!” There was also the challenge of how to prepare for the unknown. “Everything [was] new to the team,” says Selma. “We had 32 deli employees, and 25 of those were new at that time. Lakewinds as a company was new to them, and for me it was a new location, a new store, unknown expectations on how much production we want to do, [and] what [the] customer is expecting.”

And, of course, a new store needs plenty of product on the shelves. Selma also had challenges on that front: “My boss missed the date to place a huge order with UNFI, so I ended doing it on the computer, manually picking every single item and product that we needed in order to have production done and food on shelves. It took me 5 hours to finish the order. It was pretty brutal, but a good exercise.” Mason also discovered some hurdles in preparing. “Strangely enough, the biggest challenge I faced personally was adapting to the very large workspace we were gifted with the new store.”

Getting the Word Out

The best-staffed and stocked store in the world couldn’t take off if the local community doesn’t know it’s there! Lakewinds had to make sure to generate plenty of buzz before opening day. Greg recalls: “Leading up to the open I worked with many amazing Lakewinds teammates, all engaged in various community events, farmers markets, and open houses to introduce our co-op to the Richfield community. Our goal was to spread the word about co-ops, and create excitement leading up to grand opening.”

Lakewinds also sprung for one particularly eye-catching way to get the word out: an entire city bus! For a few weeks, one of Metro Transit’s commuter buses sported a full Lakewinds wrap advertising the new store.

The Lakewinds bus ad (not to scale).
Opening Day

On June 28, 2014 the Richfield store opened its doors for the first time. “I remember how fun and exciting the first day was,” says Lauren. “There was a line waiting to get into the store when we opened and it was like a big party all day. I was the opening cashier that day and rang up the first customer, I even remember what they bought: a baguette!”

Mason also recalls getting immediate positive feedback. “The amount of customers simply thanking us for being there was very encouraging and fun to hear.”

Of course, the big day wasn’t without hiccups. “The very first day of the grand opening, right before we opened the store I cut my finger and ended up going to the ER and getting 5 stiches,” says Selma. But she ultimately recovered. “I still have a scar from it which I think is a cool reminder.”

And sometimes, even the best laid plans don’t play out how we imagine. “I had set up a very elaborate, visually stimulating seafood case with the hopes that the first customer would compliment it,” Mason shares. “Instead, he walked right past it to the meat counter, asked for a pound of ground beef, and left.”

But through all the challenges, Lauren remembers, the team had each other’s back: “I never felt alone or unsupported. The teams of people that worked along side us each day were amazing and truly set the store up for success!”

Richfield staff at the 5th anniversary. A lot has changed, but many of the staff remain!
Continuing Commitment

Thanks to our hardworking staff and loyal shoppers, the Richfield store has become a staple of the local community. There are nearly 8,000 member households who regularly shop the store. The store employs almost 100 people, some of whom call the Richfield area home. Every year, between rounding up during Food Share month and food rescue programs, the store is able to help support local VEAP food shelves. Thank you to the team and the community for helping make the Richfield store a smashing success. Here’s to the next 10 years!

Learn more about the Lakewinds Richfield food co-op, including hours, location, and more!