Page 7 - Super Floral > March 2016 Issue
P. 7

Meeting needs in the


Ward’s Supermarket’s
year-round outdoor
program wows shoppers.

by cynthia l. mcgowan

   The most successful grocery stores adapt and respond to the         Russ Welker oversees the cut flower, garden and natural foods areas.
needs of the community. That’s how 65-year-old Ward’s Super-
market in Gainesville, Fla., has succeeded, and its thriving garden    ward’s supermarket
program is an important factor in how the store meets its loyal
clientele’s needs.                                                        LOCATION Gainesville, Fla.
                                                                          OWNERS The Ward family
   “We do as much as we can to support the community,” express-           FOUNDED 1951
es Russ Welker, who runs the garden operation as part of his              STORE SIZE 15,000 square feet
duties as the store’s natural foods manager. Russ, who has worked         GARDEN AREA SIZE 1,500 square feet
at Ward’s for 23 years, says the garden center’s role in that mission     STORE EMPLOYEES 100
includes satisfying shoppers with a year-round selection of sea-          GARDEN EMPLOYEES Depending on the season, two or three
sonal, local wares. “People come to us because they know we deal          assist with plant care
with locally raised plants and vegetables,” he elaborates.                NATURAL FOODS/GARDEN MANAGER Russ Welker
   Those local connections are important to the customers at
Ward’s, which is the only independent grocery store left in                                           march 2016 / 25
Gainesville and has created a niche by emphasizing homegrown
products. “We’re known for local foods, and we deal heavily with
the local producers in the area,” Russ explains.

   Those producers even include the Ward family, who founded
the store in 1951, with the fourth generation now running the
operation. Two years ago, the store began selling Black Angus beef
that was sustainably raised at the Ward family farm.
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