Updated: 04/13/2016 4:02 PM
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Good Company: Kowalski’s Markets
Kowalski’s Markets dates back to 1983 when Jim and Mary Anne Kowalski opened their first store on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul. Jim was working for Red Owl and it was that same store that they took over. They got a loan and used whatever money they had to start the business. Just three years later, they bought Red Owl Country store in White Bear Lake. The rest is history. Today, they have 11 grocery stores.
Mary Anne Kowalski says the goal was to never have a huge company. They just wanted to have enough money to pay their mortgage. They also wanted to have a business that could be passed on to their family. Their daughter Kris started working for the company at 16 years old. She came back years later as an adult and today serves as the Chief Operating Officer.
Mary Anne says the key to their early success was just going for it. She says they were naïve and if it was today, they probably never would be able to do what they did. The main focus has always been quality, good employees and a focus of family. That still holds true today.
Their main location is in Woodbury. It’s the only store that was built from the ground up. Today, it has a hair salon, Starbucks and a gift shop. All of these things helped to make them stand out in a time when so many other grocery stores are starting to pop up.
Kowalski’s is also known for helping other local businesses get their break. They work with hundreds of local products. Several of them have gone on to be national.
Emily has more on this family’s drive and on what makes Kowalski’s a Good Company after all these years.
For more on Kowalski’s click here.