Strack & Van Til puts its mark on acquired stores
By the end of March, Strack & Van Til officials hope to have completed extensive remodeling of the former Wilco County Market that will bring it in line with the company’s other stores.
David Wilkinson, Strack & Van Til president and CEO, said the company is investing more than $2 million in the Lowell store alone, which it bought from Wilco last year.
“Whether a recession or not, we have to make sure it has the look and feel of a Strack & Van Til store,” he said.
Similar remodeling and investment are under way at the Rensselaer store the company also bought from Wilco.
New freezer, meat and dairy cases have been installed.
“They’re state of the art, more energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” Wilkinson said.
A fresh-service seafood counter is planned as well as an expanded deli.
“It will be the same as Schererville or St. John, equal to any other Strack & Van Til store,” Wilkinson said.
Navigating the aisles in search of items has been challenging for shoppers but accepted.
“I’m glad they’re giving out maps now at the cash register,” said Margaret Dauber, of Lowell.
“I think the remodeling is going well, but I can’t wait until it’s done.”
Lowell resident Bernadine Sweikert said she hopes the Lowell location soon will carry the produce she has enjoyed at the St. John store.
“Nothing against Wilco, but I’m glad Strack’s is here,” Sweikert said.
The company’s deal with Wilco County Market also included the Cedar Lake store, which has been closed since selling its inventory. Plans call for its reconstruction.
“We’re working on developing plans there. It’s a very unique site. . . . There are a lot of challenges,” Wilkinson said.
A number of easements run through the property with special agreements with neighboring property owners.
“We’re working with the town and our neighbors there. We hope this spring to begin,” Wilkinson said.