A legacy of family ownership and a team of dedicated and experienced employees combine to make Bronson’s Marketplace a success. “Our base really comes from my parents Rich and Karen Bronson, who started the store in 1979,” says co-owner Kim Kessler. “They really worked to get the store to where it is today and built a strong business with great employees.”
Managers Russ Winkler, Kim Pachl, Suzeann Jankowski, Rick Miller and Connie Sailer, who started working in the store under Kessler’s parents, remain there. Several other employees are also long-tenured. “Our employees truly care about the store and are very dedicated,” Kessler says.
Kessler relied largely on the experience of long-term employees to help her and her husband, Kelly Kessler, following the transition of ownership from her parents in 2002. Although Kessler herself grew up in the business, she and her husband – a former oil and gas industry employee – had lived elsewhere in the state before returning to Beulah. “I felt our managers cared and could assist in the store’s success,” she says. “They have a wealth of knowledge of the business, so I look to them for their expertise and suggestions.”
Together with their employees, the Bronson family and now the Kesslers have worked to transform the store from a 5,000-square-foot market to a 30,000-square-foot “one-stop shop” for groceries. “Our culture is family and customer-oriented,” Kim Kessler says. “Kelly and I are pretty hands-on and have knowledge in each department, and we have good managers in each department who really care about what they’re doing. We try to let them take care of things on their own, because we know they do such a great job.”
Although many things about the store, including its size and product offerings, have evolved during its more than 30 years in business, Bronson’s Marketplace’s reputation for friendly service remains unchanged.
“My father built the business on the idea that our customers are our boss, and we are here to cater to them,” Kessler says. “For example, if someone is looking for something, we will take them directly to the product on our shelf instead of just telling them where it is or pointing toward its location. We always get comments on how friendly our employees are.
“We also strive to have fast, efficient checkouts,” she adds. “Our training motto is ‘if there is more than one customer waiting, call someone.’”
As a single-location, family owned store, Bronson’s has the ability to meet individual customer requests for new items. “We will do what we can to carry whatever our customers are asking for,” Kessler says.
In addition to its variety, Bronson’s Marketplace also prides itself on the quality of its perishable items such as produce and meats. The company works closely with its main supplier SUPERVALU and others to ensure it has the freshest perishables and best prices available, she adds.
The store participates in a “speed to shelf” program through its distributor that allows it to stock new products as soon as they become available, and ahead of many of its competitors. “When there’s a new item, we get it first,” Kessler says.
A recent renovation and expansion greatly enhanced the store’s ability to meet customers’ needs. The store last year added liquor and floral departments, expanded its deli, bakery and produce departments and added self-checkout lanes. The store also expanded its smokehouse offerings, which include specialty sausages, jerkies and brats.
A new deli buffet with a seating area allows the store to give its customers a new dining option. “That’s been a huge growth area for us,” she adds. “We’re in a small town where there aren’t a lot of restaurants, so this gives people a new option for eating out.”
Bronson’s new liquor department offers a large selection of micro-brews, craft beers and wine. Craft beer has been a popular draw at the store, so much so that it hosted a tasting event.
Store employees also benefitted from the renovation because larger and safer workspaces were added. “We upgraded our equipment and working areas, making them more efficient and giving our employees a more user-friendly and spacious place to work,” Kessler says.