Edina-based Lund Food Holdings Inc. has purchased Glen Lake’s Market in Minnetonka, a grocery store that’s been in the thick of a union dispute over allegedly unpaid benefits.
The purchase, announced Monday, should calm that quarrel somewhat since Lunds is a unionized grocery chain. The sale also marks a continuation of Lunds & Byerlys expansion over the past five years, a time in which the company has already added six properties in the Twin Cities.
It also marks the second time that Glen Lake’s has changed hands in just the past year. The first sale sparked a battle between Glen Lake’s former owner and the Twin Cities’ supermarket union, which has been picketing Glen Lake’s for weeks.
With the Lunds acquisition, picketing of the store ceased “effective immediately” Monday, according to the website of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 653.
The 25,000-square-foot store at 14400 Excelsior Blvd. will be closed from Oct. 1 through early November while it’s rebranded as a Lunds & Byerlys. Starting Monday, Glen Lake’s is discounting all of its inventory by 15 percent, an effort to sell as much as possible before the Sept. 30 closing, the supermarket said on its website.
“After extensive thought and discussion, Glen Lake’s Market has determined it’s in the best long-term interest of our staff and our customers to sell the store,” the website said. Alan Commins, the store’s general manager, declined to comment further. The purchase price of the sale was not disclosed.
Glen Lake’s Market and Victoria Market in Victoria were both known as Fresh Seasons grocery stores before they closed in May 2014 because of money woes. They reopened this spring with their current names and under a new ownership group, which includes the son of Fresh Seasons’ founder Tom Wartman. Wartman retained ownership of the two buildings that house the former Fresh Seasons supermarkets.
Fresh Seasons workers were represented by UFCW Local 653, but Glen Lake’s and Victoria markets are nonunion. The UFCW claims Wartman’s Fresh Seasons markets’ stiffed former workers after the stores closed in 2014. The union has sued, asserting former workers are owed $225,000 in unpaid vacation pay and benefits. Wartman has claimed the union’s allegations are false.
Glen Lake’s Market employs about 50 people, and Lunds & Byerlys said it plans to retain as many of those employees as possible. As at all Lunds & Byerlys stores, workers at the Minnetonka grocery will be represented by the grocery workers union.
“It’s a real positive thing,” said Matt Utecht, president of UFCW Local 653. However, he added that it “doesn’t solve the issue we have with Tom Wartman.”
Glen Lake’s will become Lunds & Byerlys’ 27th supermarket, and will fill a gap in the chain’s geographic coverage. “We have been interested in this area for quite a while,” said Aaron Sorenson, a Lunds & Byerlys spokesman. “It’s definitely an area where we are not serving a lot of customers.”
Asked if Lund Food Holdings is considering buying the Victoria Market, Sorenson said the company has “no plans to at this time.”
Lunds & Byerlys has been adding stores and growing market share in a tough supermarket industry environment.
It opened new grocery stores in downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, respectively, in 2012 and 2014. Also in the past two years, Lunds & Byerlys bought a Village Market in Prior Lake and two Rainbow Foods stores — one each in Woodbury and Eden Prairie — converting all three to its own brand.