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Mound City Food Fair raises the bar for small town grocers


The Food Fair sign on the marquee at the entrance of the Mound City store is a familiar site.


Three years ago, the Food Fair store in Mound City did a “reset on everything,” according to owner Bruce McCune.


The store had been an established grocer in the community since 1987 and had settled into a retail pattern that fit their regular customers’ shopping patterns.


But the growth in the Sugar Valley Lakes development as well as newcomers moving into the area saw a new set of faces as well as a new set of demands on the store.


Bruce used popcorn as an example to explain the changes. It used to be that Food Fair had carried a selection of four traditional popcorn brands, but with the advent of microwaveable and flavored offerings, popcorn has a much larger section on the store’s shelves.


The Mound City staff has worked on updating displays including opening up the front of the store to appeal to shoppers.


With the growth of selections in stores toward the metro area and in Fort Scott, Bruce and his crew began to look at combining the familiarity of hometown shopping with competitive pricing, an expanded line of products, and a more inviting approach to merchandising.


To help the store keep customers and reach out to new people, he enlisted the help of Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) to develop a new approach to marketing that speaks to the store’s customers.


Changes have not been made all at once at the Mound City store, but over the past couple of years, the store has taken major steps into the retail future by expanding and modernizing its produce section, dairy, meat, frozen food and meat sections.


The stores also support local farmers, selling meat products from Umphenour Farms, cheese from Skyview Farm, and produce in-season from Courage Farms.



Like its big-city competitors, the store has a deli that caters to customers that want to shop for a prepared meal for dinner rather than making one from scratch. And customers can pick up one of several packaged salad mixes from the produce section before heading over to check out.


The store is in the process of putting up new signs to designate the locations of different areas around the store. The front end of the store has been opened up with attractive displays that can change with the season.


Since purchasing the Pleasanton Food Fair about seven years ago, the changes there have not been quite so obvious. While that store is more compact, store manager Lynnae Sullins has been working to improve product offerings for its customers.


The Mound City store's produce section has been expanded, using vertical display cases to showcase the newer selections.


“AWG says we have a large variety for a small store,” she said. “Anything anybody asks for, we’ll try it.” 


If it sells well, the store will keep it on the shelf.


Both the Mound City and Pleasanton stores have taken a leap into both social media and a website to keep customers connected to the store. 


The circulars of sale items and promotions once relied on newspapers and print shoppers to get the word out to customers. Now, the circulars appear on both Facebook and on a website that serves both the Mound City and Pleasanton stores as well as three stores across the Missouri state line.


Here is the link to the store’s Facebook page – facebook.com/moundcityfoodfair – and to the website, www.foodfairsupermarket.com .


The staff at the Pleasanton Food Fair works to improve the shopping experience there with a wider selection.


Shoppers can check out the selection before heading to the store and either grab a print circular or bring it up on their phone to use while shopping. They can also scan coupons from the website to store on their smart phone that can be read at the cashier’s stands at the front of the store.


The stores also offer loyalty rewards for customers who sign up for them. By going to the store’s Facebook page, new customers can see the directions for uploading apps for both coupons and the loyalty program pinned to the top of the window.


However, those who need some assistance in signing up can simply go to the store where someone will gladly assist them. Once the app is loaded, the customer will find that it is easy to use.

 

After all, in this age of apps and programs, it’s still the people and the personal connections that are still the most important for Food Fair.


At Mound City, Wesley Edmondson has been the manager since 2020. Wesley started working for the store when he was 15 and has worked there off and on since then. While at college, he worked at the store during the summers, but upon graduation, his calling was teaching.


But Wesley couldn’t get the grocery business out of his blood, and it drew him back. He now oversees a staff of 14 employees.


Both the Mound City and Pleasanton Food Fair stores have delis where customers can buy ready meals for dinner or order trays for special events.


Those employees include office manager Yvonne Edmondson, produce manager Irene Rhodes, dairy manager Deane Cowin, and the deli department’s Jodie Miner, who along with Bruce have been with the company well over 20 years. Produce assistant and stocker Tony Pollard and cashier Peggy Magee have been on the team more than 15 years, and Leah Wilson has been on staff for four years.


Like Wesley, meat manager Charlie Cowin has worked there off and on since college and DeWayne Edmondson, who first went to work at the store 30 years ago and is retired, still comes in on occasion to help out.


Lynnae has worked at the Pleasanton Food Fair for nearly a quarter of a century, and nearly two decades of that as the store manager. Other key staff members include assistant manager Jacqueline Capp, produce manager Amber Nuzum, meat manager Bret Cole, meat assistant Sandra Smith, produce assistant Krystal Brenneman, and Terry Sullies, back room manager. 


Food Fair Supermarkets in Mound City and Pleasanton continue to offer the combination of a wide selection of products at competitive prices along with the personal connection you expect in a small town. Bruce McCune and his staff continue to prove that grocery stores in small rural communities are not only viable, they can thrive.



The Mound City store's vertical case displays a wide variety of fresh meat products.

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