Fareway is celebrating 70 years of business in the Perry community. During the World War II era, the Iowa-based company handed the Perry community its own store in 1947.
In the 1974 edition of The Perry Daily Chief, Fareway advertised its opening day of the new location between Willis Ave and Otley Ave on Fourth Street. Fareway’s current location opened its doors on Wednesday, September 25, 1974. “The Welcome Mat is out” slogan on the original advertisement welcomed its customers back into the business.
“This is the kind of job that you get it and you just enjoy it,” said current manager, Travis Landgrebe. “It’s a really good company; they treat you well.”
There are two manager positions at Fareway: the grocery department, as well as the market manager department. The market manager works alongside the meat department in the store.
Perry’s market manager department has changed management positions nine times, allowing separate managers to work alongside the meat department.
It is common for managers to start out at Fareway, tending to carts and later working a specific section of the grocery store during their time with the company.
Melvin Walkup was Fareway’s first grocery department manager, staying with Perry’s store until 1968. Following Walkup’s departure, Fareway’s grocery department worked alongside four different managers, according to the Fareway Headquarters in Boone, Iowa.
Glen Weber worked as the grocery department manager starting in 1989, bringing 26 years of service to the Perry community.
An Independence, Iowa, native, Weber joined the Fareway company in 1973 working as a stock clerk.
The store has worked to develop deep-rooted leadership opportunities within its employees, allowing for areas of growth and prosperity.
“At that time, if you want to advance in the company, you transfer to different stores to learn different ways under different managers,” Weber said.
During Weber’s time in Fareway, he became part of teams in Iowa Falls, Estherville, Boone and finished his journey at the Perry store.
Weber said the store brought in a social variety everyday.
“Well, I’m just kind of a people person and you’re out there working with the public, and you meet all kinds of people,” Weber said. “It’s something different every day.”
Weber retired in 2015, which allowed then-Assistant Manager Travis Landgrebe to take on his role in October of 2015. Landgrebe originally joined the Perry team in 2011.
This year, Landgrebe will celebrate 21 years of service in the Fareway company. He started his job at Fareway when he was sixteen-years-old in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
After his departure in Oskaloosa, Landgrebe worked in Ames, Carroll, Sioux City and Storm Lake.
“Normally you stay a couple of years,” Landgrebe said. “Once you’re a Manager, it’s not a situation where you move somewhere else.”
Today, Landgrebe sees the same willingness to thrive and stick with the company.
“We have tons of fourteen-year-old’s; you see them when they start at fourteen and stay during the college days,” Landgrebe said. “We have fun watching them grow up.”
Typically workers start in carry-out and can move up to various tasks and positions along the way: working a specific department, working in produce, becoming a full-time employee, working and maintaining a specific section, and learning the business as a whole.
Much like Landgrebe’s experience, moving to different Fareway locations allows workers to get a feel for the type of city they wish to live in.
“They see a country store versus a metro-store,” Landgrebe explains. “They shop different.”
Perry’s store is considered to be a country store due to the population size. Landgrebe says the food demand can also vary depending on the store.
During the 1974 article in The Perry Daily Chief, the article highlights items the new store would offer: frozen foods, cake mixes, pet foods, aluminum foil, paper towels, pizza, instant beverages and self-service packaged ice cream products.
Today, customers are reaching towards fresh food products and frozen goods, downsizing the trend of the once popular boxed dinners.
In order to accommodate a change in grocery selection, Fareway experienced its second and most recent major remodel in 2016.
According to information supplied by Fareway’s Headquarters in Boone, Fareway received the following renovations: replacement of the freezer, dairy, market, and produce walk ins, replacement of 39 glass door freezers, additions to the dairy case, cold beer case, market open freezer case, deli cases and four inches of length to the service meat case.
The renovation also included new ADA restrooms, a new emergency exit door, a new market work area and office, non-slip floors in the market work area and new electrical service installation.
The renovation took up most of last year, Landgrebe says, but he’s pleased with its turnout.
“Once we were done everyone liked the variety,” Landgrebe said.
With 70 employees at the store, ranging from teenagers to elders, the Perry store aspires to continue to fit the needs of those within the community, as well as give back. Landgrebe says the location of the store has added relations to grow throughout Fareway and the community.
“If we weren’t involved heavily in the community we would kind of be outcasts,” Landgrebe said.
Holding ties to Perry’s chamber, participating in frequent round-ups, benefit dinners, auctions, and giving back to schools and churches, Fareway has continued to keep busy since it’s initial opening.
“If it involves Perry in a good, positive way, we want to be involved,” Landgrebe said.