Fareway celebrates a milestone

Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm


PHOTO: This is the ad that appeared in the Oct. 5, 1983, Monticello Express when Fareway first opened in town. The Fareway company is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. It is also the 30th anniversary for Monticello Fareway.

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PHOTO: Jeremy Reuter and Vickie Miller stock the bread aisle at Fareway Friday morning in time for the weekend crowd.


By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

Fareway Stores will hit a milestone in May, celebrating 75 years in business as a company. The local Monticello Fareway store will also be celebrating 30 years in business later this year.

A staple in any town, the Fareway grocery store is an asset to those not only living in Monticello, but those in the surrounding towns as well. On any given day you will see people from multiple towns and counties shopping at Fareway. A convenience for sure!

The first Iowa Fareway store opened in Boone, Iowa, in 1938. The ad featured coffee at 14 cents a pound and Wheaties for 10 cents. Even in the beginning and now today, Fareway maintains its pride in selling fresh meat to customers, by offering USDA Choice selections. In 1938, a USDA Choice Sirloin or T-bone steak was just 25 cents a pound.

The first Fareway ad to appear in the Monticello Express was on Oct. 5, 1983. The new store in town was advertising its grand opening, with managers Dennis Little and David Streets. “Special savings this week in our meat and produce departments as well as our grocery department,” read the ad.

“We are happy to present to Monticello and this entire area a complete new and modern deluxe food store – your NEW FAREWAY STORE!”

Among the many common themes throughout Fareway stores, self-service shopping was considered revolutionary for the times, allowing shoppers to pick out their selection of groceries versus giving someone a list and have them package your groceries for you.

In the late ’30s, shopping carts were also a new concept, with shoppers referring to them as “rubber-tired gliders.”

Fareway’s friendly service and customer care is something quite noticeable at the local Fareway here in Monticello. People bag your groceries and take them to your vehicle.

Fareway founder Paul S. Beckwith “envisioned what it would be like to work where happy employees served happy customers.”

Bruce Smith, Monticello Fareway manager, started working for the company in 1979. He started working in Monticello in 1997 as the assistant manager and is now the store manager.

Monticello Fareway employs about 65 employees from the local community and Jones County.

“We’re a working family,” commented Smith. That sentiment was quite evident when Fareway closed its doors for a period of time so all store employees could attend funeral services for Hannah First, who worked at Fareway for several years.

It’s the core values that make the Fareway shopping experience what it is. The employees take care of shoppers’ needs, from young to old.

While for many, Fareway is their number one grocery store of choice, for the employees, it is also their job of choice. Many of the Fareway employees have been with the store and company for many years. Some have worked there for 20-plus years, a few reaching 40-plus years.

Tom Thein, the meat department manager, has been with the company for 40 years, and has worked in eight different stores. He’s been in Monticello since 1992.

In his time with the company, he’s seen a lot of changes come and go. For instance, Thein said the store started with hanging beef to trimmed beef.

“It’s a lot more sanitary than years ago,” he commented. “There are a lot more regulations.”

Fareway’s full-service meat counter is staffed from open to close. With 11 employees in the meat department, there is always someone to assist you in your meat selections.

“We have a lot more options for people now,” said Thein compared to years ago. He said there are always new items as well, not necessarily meat choices, such as stuffed mushrooms and twice-baked potatoes.

“We get what people ask for,” he said, “and what people want.”

Smith said from the groceries to the meat department, Fareway is known for its quality and quantity.

The only major work that’s ever been done at the local Fareway was in 2011 when they did a major interior remodel. They added up-right freezers, expanded the dairy aisle and added cold beer options as well. Smith said this is the common corporate look for Fareway stores.

Not only does the company maintain longevity with its employees, many go on to earn higher positions at other Fareway stores across the Midwest. To name a few: Todd Tucker is now assistant manager in Waukee. Darrin Collum is the assistant manager in Independence. Andrew Arduser is the assistant manager in Clinton. Nick Thein is produce manager in Dubuque. Chris Miller is a manager in Dubuque as well.

“We’re successful here because of the community,” Smith said. “It’s a good company to work for.”

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PHOTO: Doug Oldaker has worked at Fareway since 1987. He bags groceries and always has a smile for everyone.

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PHOTO: Jason Shover is one of the many smiling faces helping Monticello Fareway customers carry their groceries out to their vehicles every day. (Photos by Kim Brooks)