Elden’s Fresh Foods

According to Elden’s Fresh Foods’ customers say there is no comparison to the thriving one-unit independent from the northern Minnesota lake resort community of Alexandria, writes GHQ editor Richard Turcsik.

Read more in Lake Success and check images of Elden’s Fresh Foods after its remodel and expansion.

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The statue of Big Olé the Viking is billed as Alexandria, Minn.’s most famous tourist attraction.

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But everyone knows Elden’s Fresh Foods is really the town’s big draw.

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Elden’s is owned by the Christensen family. Dennis (left) is vice president and Elliott (right) is president. JR (center), Elliot’s son, is store director.

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Elden’s owners are masters of marketing – selling 4,000 mums in a 4-week fall period.

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Giant football mums were a big seller.

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They were outdone only by the pumpkins – Elden’s sold 80,000 pounds of them around Halloween.

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Pumpkins were merchandised in huge crates outside the store.

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There were mini pumpkins, decorated pumpkins, and even spooky ghost white pumpkins.

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As part of the store’s recent remodel, the produce department has doubled in size.

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That allowed the berry set to triple in size to 12-feet.

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Bagged salads were moved behind glass doors, creating a more attractive, easier-to-shop set and extending the shelf life.

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Minnesota-grown items are carried where possible.

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And many items are sold in tote bags.

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Complementary brown paper ripening bags are provided.

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The department sells many unusual items, such as hedge balls, said to scare off spiders.

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The one-unit store does a big business in private label spices.

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The spices are still under the Elden’s Food Fair label. The name of the store was officially changed to Elden’s Fresh Foods when the remodeling was completed in August.

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Alexandria, Minn., is surrounded by hundreds of lakes. Elden’s pays tribute to them by naming its aisles after lakes.

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Papa Enzo’s, a proprietary take-and-bake pizza label owned by Affiliated Foods Midwest of Norfolk, Neb., is a big seller in the deli aisle.

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However, during hunting season the pizza is rivaled by pickled turkey gizzards. There is only one jar left, so you better hurry down.

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With the areas heavy Nordic background pickled herring is also popular. Elden’s sells it by the pail-load.

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To facilitate service, popular luncheon meats are pre-sliced in the deli case.

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A new addition to the store was the beer cooler.

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A coffin case running the length of the back aisle is filled with meat, deli and dairy “hot buys.”

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The hottest of the hot buys is the weekly 3/$1.00 yogurt special. Elden’s moves thousands of cups each week.

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Because of the high amount of iron in the water, most residents buy bottled water for drinking.

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Elden’s is one of only a handful of stores in Minnesota to use electronic shelf tags.

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Sensors in the ceiling allow prices to be changed in a matter of seconds.

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Elden’s uses a high-tech security system to monitor its premises and parking lot.

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The frozen foods department was greatly expanded.

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Large bags of frozen vegetables are top sellers.

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As are The Village Pie Maker pies. They are hand-crafted in the tiny town of Eustis, Neb.

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Grandma’s Saloon & Grill brand Chicken Wild Rice Soup is a Minnesota mainstay.

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The new Natural and Organic section, located in the front of the store, is said by many customers to rival the offerings of Whole Foods.

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Mosey on down to Elden’s Downtown Floral.

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Floral Manager Terry Glennie creates stunning displays.

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Greeting cards from Designer Greetings were moved to floral and are merchandised at 50% off everyday.

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Plants are a big seller in floral.

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Originally slated to be a garden center, the department features large bay windows.

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Elden’s Downtown Floral is the best florist in town – jar none!

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