Newly-remodeled Bender's Foods – serving Guttenberg since 2004

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Bender's Foods in Guttenberg has recently remodeled and updated the interior of the store. Management planned to have the updates and sleek new look completed by Memorial Day weekend. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Small town grocery stores play a major role in our rural communities. They provide a vital source of nutrition, employ our neighbors, and add to tax revenue that supports our community. Rural grocery stores are also economic drivers and community builders. 

Guttenberg has had a long history of local corner grocery stores throughout the years. Most notable entrepreneurs Bess and Harold Murray, Margaret and Milford Mackey and Betty and Don Evers paved the way to bringing larger grocery chains to our community, increasing product availability and dependability. Thanks in part to these forward-thinking businessmen and women, a well-stocked grocery store is still available in our community. 

Ushering in a new era

In the late 1970s, Margaret and Milford Mackey purchased several lots along Highway 52 and built a modern facility to house their Super Valu store. The new construction included a spacious 10,000 square footprint, a well-lit blacktop parking lot, double automatic doors, four checkout stations and several refrigerator and freezer cases. A 5,000 square foot addition was added two years later to house a bakery/deli expansion. Mackey's innovative design still stands today and is home to Bender's Foods. 

Bender's Foods remodel and update

Bender's Foods, located at 619 S. Highway 52, has recently undergone a floor-to-ceiling remodel and update. Chad Connelly, store manager, replied, "The remodel has been in the works for the past couple of years. It was time for an update."

Connelly, who has been store manager for the past three years, commented, "We replaced the computer system and added all new check-out stands. We repainted the walls, added new signage, and replaced all the flooring and lighting as well. We plan to have the remodel completed by Memorial Day weekend." 

"All the work that was done was completed by local contractors working well into the evening and overnight hours. It has been a challenge for everyone involved. Everyone has really put forth a great effort to get their job  done while we still served our customers. I would like to commend our Bender's employees for doing a great job during this time," he said. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic Bender's shelves have remained well-stocked with essential items. Connelly cited, "Strong communication between store managers and all vendors has been an important component to keeping our shelves fully stocked. The supply chain is strong. People just need to shop as normally as possible."

Bender's Guttenberg location serves approximately 400-500 customers each day, and employs 30-35 area residents. Extra precautionary measures are being used throughout the day to ensure the health and safety of Bender's customers and employees. "We have been wiping down all areas and carts after each use with disinfectant wipes and spray. Employees in the deli are all wearing masks and gloves, and following washing rules as they normally do," Connelly noted. 

Bender's has met the needs of the elderly, medically vulnerable/unable and shut-ins with parking lot or home delivery. "For several years Bender's has offered grocery delivery to those unable to physically shop. We have seen a large increase in that service due to the pandemic. Orders are received on Tuesday for Wednesday delivery or pickup. Just give us a call!" he shared. 

"We have had so many people comment on all of the improvements we have made to the store. We have also had so many customers thank us for working through these tough times and always being positive," he said with gratitude.

Bender's Foods is open daily from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. Check out their website at www.bendersfoods.com or find them on  Facebook. For additional information or if you would like to place an order for pickup or delivery call 563-252-1410.

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