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In Minnesota, there is an excellent story in the Star Tribune about how Cub Foods, put on the sales block by new owner United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) in 2018, has engineered a comeback - to the point that it is no longer for sale, but rather is being celebrated within the company as a success story with even greater potential.

Much of the credit goes to Mike Stigers, who became CEO of Cub in 2019, charged with making it as attractive as possible for potential suitors.

"Today, Cub remains atop the Twin Cities market and is churning more profits for UNFI than it did in its last years under Supervalu," the Star Tribune writes.  "UNFI's executives say it's no longer for sale. Cub executives are drawing up plans for new stores to add to the 79 it already has.

"Like many large grocery chains, Cub flourished in the pandemic when people who were forced to stay home from work and school changed their eating patterns."

The story suggests that Cub's connection to a wholesale company gave it certain advantages during the pandemic, which allowed it to continue to grow.

Then, "just as Cub was adjusting to the pandemic, the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day that spring led to riots that resulted in the looting and destruction of two Cub stores in Minneapolis — one on Lake Street and the other on Broadway.

"Stigers had seen grocery stores destroyed in civil unrest and natural disasters before. He was a district manager for Jons Fresh Marketplace in Los Angeles during riots that ensued when police were acquitted of beating Rodney King in 1992. And in 2011, he led Shaw's as Hurricane Irene wrecked the northeastern U.S. and a tent market was quickly set up while a flood-ravaged store was rebuilt in Vermont."

The decision was made to shuttle customers by bus from the destroyed Cub locations to operating stores, and then to rebuild - and to install a community center in one of them where young people and senior citizens would have a place to gather.

"Cub's e-commerce business continued to grow, adding its wine and spirits businesses, around 30% last year, building from the huge leap it took during the pandemic."  And then, reflecting the company's willingness to continue to invest in the business, "Cub said it would start its own online pickup and delivery service, no longer relying solely on third parties like Instacart to get its goods delivered."

KC's View:

What a great story, and an example of how a little moxie - okay, maybe a lot of moxie - can make the difference not just in how a retailer operates, but also in how it creates and reinforces connections with shoppers.

Good for them.  And props to Mike Stigers for seeing that the moment represented an entrance ramp for the company, not just an inevitable exit ramp.