ing for the best-in-class product.
In front of the gi; department is produce. Locally and nationally Kowalski’s has built a reputation for o;ering its customers the best quality
and newest produce items available. ;e department is ;lled with other proprietary items
too. ;ere is the watermelon tenderloin, a rindless heart of a watermelon, and semi-prepared
green bean and sweet potato side dishes—
created by suppliers to Kowalski’s speci;cations
and recipes—that the consumer simply tosses
into a microwave.
“We work with our produce vendors and talk
about ‘Kowalski programs’ that we need,” says
Kowalski Christiansen. “Take our packaged
Brussels sprouts and diced butternut squash.
We call them Steamers and cross-merchandise
them with packaged chicken in our produce de-
partment to make it easy for the shopper.”
Equally stellar is the bakery department just
to the right, where the items are merchandised
from custom-made unique ;xtures. “Je; Gar-
das, one of our maintenance professionals, is a
woodworking expert and makes all of our cabi-
nets and end caps,” says Kowalski.
She points to the proprietary Bombolini—the
name translates into “calorie bomb” in Italian—
over-stu;ed jelly doughnuts. “We use really high
quality ingredients,” Kowalski says. “Bakery is
bakery and it is going to be a little fattening.”
Adds Kowalski Christiansen, “Know what is
di;erent about our cakes from other supermar-
kets? We use butter and we use butter and we
use butter. We have so much butter coming out
of our bakery—and no hydrogenated oils.”
;e majority of the baked goods, as well as deli
salads and entrées, are prepared in Kowalski’s
production kitchen and commissary in Mahto-
medi, Minn., and then ;nished o; in the stores.
“We also like to work with local entrepre-
neurs,” says Kowalski Christiansen. “We carry
local salad dressings, popcorn, candies from
little chocolatiers. We have a new program
we are testing and producing in our baker-
ies called the Church Lady’s Recipe. We call
her ‘Church Lady’ because our bakery direc-
tor met her at his church. She was producing
these awesome breads for the church. She has
a family recipe mix and comes in and trains
our bakers on how to produce it. We sell it just
on Fridays through Sundays.”
;e service pastry counter, built by Gardas, is
another amenity unique to the Excelsior store.
“;is is the ;rst store to try a service pastry
case,” says Kowalski Christiansen. “We have a
pastry chef at our production facility and she
was just helping us with our regular lines, but
she really got to shine when we opened this
store. She put together our program and came
out and trained everyone.”
Along the back wall, next to produce and
beyond bakery is Kowalski’s extensive deli/pre-
pared foods area.
An island features Kowalski’s famous made-
from-scratch hot soups. “We are huge soup
|GHQ| RETAIL SPOTLIGHT
THE AVERAGE SUPERMARKE T is stocked with tens of
thousands of grocery items. Deciding which of
those are the healthiest options can be quite the
harrowing experience for shoppers—but not at
Kowalski’s Markets. They simply look for the Good
Foods for Good Health logo on in-store signage
and shelf tags.
Good Foods for Good Health is a proprietary
“how-to” program designed by Kowalski’s o;cials
that highlights foods throughout the store that
have the right mix of nutrients and ingredients to help customers live strong and healthy lives.
In addition to being evaluated for nutrients and ingredients, Kowalski’s o;cials also take into
account the amount of fat, sodium, cholesterol and added sugars in a food, and steer clear of
arti;cial additives before bestowing a Good Foods for Good Health seal.
“We have a nutritionist, Susan Moores, who goes through every recipe in our commissary
and tells us if it ;ts the category for Good Foods for Good Health,”
says Mary Anne Kowalski, president of the Woodbury, Minn.-
based chain, pointing to a salad with the logo in the deli case.
“Our whole idea was not to be so crazy with health in the sense
that it has to taste good.”
In addition to shelf tags and product signage, Kowalski’s has
Good News cards posted throughout the store that alert shoppers
about the latest health trends and news. For example, a card near
the banana display will tell shoppers about studies showing an in-
crease in potassium intake can limit or minimize the e;ects sodium
has on raising blood pressure.
The program is further touted with weekend cooking demos,
classes and articles in the store magazine, e-newsletter and on the
Kowalski’s website. Each store also has a kiosk containing Good
Foods for Good Health Dinner Tonight easy-to-prepare recipes.