The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Gordy’s buys Ron’s Castle Foods

While students are getting prepared to finish the semester and take their finals, the University Bookstore is preparing for its own end-of-the-semester rush. Students will be returning their books during finals week, from Dec. 16 – 20. Starting two weeks ago, the University Bookstore began advertising to hire new student staff members, store manager Camille Weixel said.

Gordy’s County Market announced it has purchased Ron’s Castle Foods and plans to open a new store on the property on April 17. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The purchase of Ron’s Castle Foods, 1031 W. Clairemont Ave., gives Gordy’s three different locations in Eau Claire.

Gordy’s Chief Financial Officer David Schafer said discussions began in November and the two sides reached a general agreement in February.

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“We’re always looking for new projects to do and this was one that really made a lot of sense for us,” Schafer said.

Ron Kielpinski, owner of Ron’s Castle Foods, said the store has been open since November 1981. Kielpinski himself has been in the grocery business 46 years. He said the decision to sell was not a very difficult one.

“When you have an opportunity that comes together, you just have to take a good, serious look at it and go on to the next step in your life,” Kielpinski said.

Schafer said one of the main attractions of Ron’s Castle Foods was its proximity to UW-Eau Claire’s campus. Currently, the nearest Gordy’s County Market location to campus is 4.5 miles away at 2717 Birch St., which can be difficult for students without access to cars to reach.

The current plan is for Ron’s Castle Foods to close on April 15 and Gordy’s County Market to open on April 17, Schafer said. A marketing campaign aimed specifically at Eau Claire students is being planned that will include increased campus visibility.

One of the most important parts of the deal for Kielpinski was that the current staff at Ron’s Castle Foods would be retained at the new Gordy’s County Market store. Kielpinski said some staff members have been working with Ron’s Castle Foods since more than 30 years ago.

“They’re the lifeblood of this business,” Kielpinski said. “We don’t do it alone.”

Schafer said the company is currently going through the interview process with Ron’s Castle Foods employees and does indeed plan on keeping all current staff members for the new store.

He added that Gordy’s does plan on adding employees over time, citing the expansion of the Birch Street location workforce by almost 100 since purchasing the store from Cub Foods in 2006.

Mary Nysven, currently the meat manager at Ron’s Castle Foods, said the change in ownership should be good for the employees.

“I think it’s great. They offer benefits, and that’s a plus right there,” Nysven said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Schafer said there was no discussion of keeping the Ron’s Castle Foods name on the new store due to the success in the Gordy’s County Market brand.

“We wanted to re-brand (the store) into what our customers have come to know us for,” Schafer said.

Kielpinski does plan on being involved in the new store during the transition period. He said long-time customers of Ron’s should feel comfortable doing their shopping at Gordy’s, a fellow privately-held family business.

“I believe Gordy’s will continue the level of service that we have tried to provide,” Kielpinski said. “They care about the community and they’re also wonderful businesspeople.”

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Gordy’s buys Ron’s Castle Foods