HJ/EDHerald Journal, Jan. 30, 2006

Lester Prairie grocery store to get facelift, cleaning as new owners take over

By Lynda Jensen

The grocery store in Lester Prairie is scheduled for a facelift and top-to-bottom cleaning as new owners prepare to take over this week.

Dan and Shari Wagner of Wells, Minn., along with their son Chris Wagner, are set to close on the purchase of Nelson’s Marketplace Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Their other son, Pete, will also be on hand, as the Wagners roll up their sleeves to give the store a thorough cleaning and take inventory, said Dan Wagner last week.

“We like things super clean and super sharp,” Dan said, noting that their other stores, which are all located in small towns, are similar in this respect.

For this reason, the store will be temporarily closed Wednesday, Feb. 1, and the following Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 6 and 7, he said.

This will allow them to clean, re-stock and retag items, he said. “We want to make sure that it’s in tip top shape,” Chris said.

The store will be open Thursday and Friday before the Super Bowl, Chris Wagner noted.

“We will be getting a truck in Thursday, to stock the store up,” Chris said.

The Wagners will be open for their first official day of business Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Both Chris and Dan Wagner noted that fresh meat and fresh produce are important to them. “We want everything looking perfect,” Chris said.

Chris is also excited about meeting people in his soon-to-be new home, since he is moving to Lester Prairie.

For now, most of the remodeling will be behind-the-scenes type of work, such as new tile in the dairy, produce and meat coolers, Dan said.

“I’m into new equipment,” Dan added, saying that patrons can expect to see improvements over the next year. “You’ll see changes.”

Dan is looking at new freezer doors, but was glad that there are new scanners in place already, he said.

“We specialize in fresh and clean,” Dan added, saying that they are particular about these two subjects, “along with everything else.”

The tradition of grocery store ownership started when Dan Wagner bought the store in Adams from his father, John Wagner, in 1973.

In 1990, the Wagners expanded by buying a store in Wells, which is located between Albert Lea and Mankato. Later they built a new store from the ground up, Chris said.

In 1998, they purchased a store in Britt, Iowa.

In 2001, they bought a store in New Richland, Dan said.

The Wagners are very familiar with operating small-town grocery stores.

“We know small town,” Dan said.

They own and operate Minnesota stores in Wells (population 2,500), New Richland (population 500), and Adams (population 800), as well as a store in Britt, Iowa (population 2,100).

The store will be locally managed by Chris, and full-time assistant Dave Bruckhoff, who is currently working at the Wagners’ store in Wells.

The Wagners are planning to name the new store Prairie Market.

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