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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Madison Loves Booze: Mr. Movies Closing Makes Way for Liquor Expansion

You read it here first: Sunshine Foods owner Dan Roemen will replace Mr. Movies with bigger booze sales. We're not bringing new products into Madison. We're not restoring or expanding entertainment options for families and young people. We're selling more booze... across the street from the biggest liquor store in town.

It's not even like we're getting a new independent liquor store, which might at least restore the six jobs we're losing from Mr. Movies and add one more independent entrepreneur to Madison's cadre of business leaders. Sunshine Foods is wholly absorbing the Mr. Movies business space and expanding the entire of aisle of hooch it already sells. At best this expansion will require Roemen to add... what, one or two employees?

And for what? All so Mr. Family Values Dan Roemen can make more money on a product to which too many Madison residents—and apparently the Madison economy—are addicted.

I'm judging debate this weekend in Brookings. Better bring the Hy-Vee bags.


  1. The least Dan Roemen could do is install a couple of RedBox video rental vending machines in the Sunshine store. Sounds like The Movie Guy in the Washington Plaza is cutting their space in half to make room for Verizon's expansion, so we'll have lost 75% of our movie and game rental space, which so many families rely on for entertainment.

    Maybe Ken and Kris Wede will build something across the street that could house a new Mr. Movies. I hate to consider renting movies and games as part of our community arts experience, but unfortunately, that's what it has become in Madison.

  2. One more reason to shop at Hy-Vee.

  3. Wow, I'm getting some conflicting news here. So "keeping it local" (something you seem to support) is a conditional idea? Shopping at a Hy-Vee in another town just to protest your own grocery store is blowing my mind right now.

  4. Well said Corey....well said....Bravo!

    matthew m. siedschlaw

  5. Yes, Kristen, of course it's conditional. I've been chanting the "buy local" mantra for at least fifteen years, so I feel pretty conflicted. But for "buy local" to work, retailers need to be at least somewhat responsive to their local markets. I've heard plenty of comments over the past few years from Madison folks who do some of their grocery shopping in Brookings or Sioux Falls but would rather do it here. There are just some products they can't get at Sunshine, though. I guarantee that not one of those commenters mentioned alcohol as a reason for shopping elsewhere. According to my own shopping habits and the people I talk to, expansions in baby products, deli, bakery, produce, organic products, ethnic foods, and health food (well, that wouldn't be an expansion, since we don't have any here yet) would be much better responses to market demand.
    Plus, there's the fact that Madison is already saturated with places to buy alcohol. While I'm not exactly a teetotaler, I do believe there are plenty of reasons why more alcohol in town is not a good thing.
    The bottom line is that plenty of us already have to go outside of Madison to get basic products (baby and toddler items were a big thing for us—I've searched high and low in Madison for socks—socks!!—that fit my 3 ½-year old, and there are none), so it makes sense for a lot of us also to pick up groceries on those trips. What we need is more incentive to get those groceries in Madison, not more reason to get them in Brookings or Sioux Falls. I'll venture a guess that a huge new liquor store is not that incentive for most of us.

  6. I've also had a hard time finding stuff for my kids, as well as organic and ethnic foods. But over the years, Sunshine has acquired a relatively better selection of these items, such as organic milk, vegetarian options, etc. If the community continues to travel elsewhere for their groceries, why would Dan need to stock up on these items anyway?

    Have you ever asked Dan about any particular item(s) that you wish were available? Once in a while I'll ask my local grocery store to stock up on a natural foods item, and they're glad to do so. Instead of deciding to cut off local stores, we can work with them so we're satisfied, which will in-turn benefit their business as well (come on, that's a good thing!). Even if a person may or may not agree with Dan's political views, keeping business local will benefit the whole community.

  7. Does Dan ask his customers what products they would like to see at Sunshine? Is there a simple way to leave feedback at the store (comment cards at the front counter)?

    The answer is no...but I'll be happy to be proven wrong if anyone knows more.

  8. Erin,

    Next time you see Dan at the grocery store, ask him about an item you want. Or leave a note at the door, or call to set up a 2-minute appointment, or however you choose to communicate.

    When I request an item at my grocery store, I prefer face-to-face conversation... it saves paper and allows the owner to put a face to my requests. If Sunshine doesn't carry a particular brand that you like, most likely they carry the same product in a different brand. Honestly, it's easy!

  9. There's an element in Madison that thinks we are perfect just the way we are. Think again. A community is judged by it's grocery store. The people who work at Sunshine tell me about their favorite HyVee stores. They shop elsewhere! We are not a bunch of hillbillies. They were as disappointed as I was, thinking we would get an improved store. We have sophisticated people who work at the college who come with expectations. We all own cars and see what real grocery stores are, and our store ain't it. Nothing would have made me happier than to see Shirlee M. create a wonderful new & healthy deli (all you can eat of that good stuff). Madison progressive? Please.

  10. Bah-humbug!

    Happy Holidays!!!

  11. I know I'll get hung out to dry for this, but Madison needs a Walmart. Erin could find her daughter's socks and we would have some competition in groceries. I know it's a big box store in some peoples' minds, but it would also keep some shoppers in Madison and provide jobs.

  12. Linda, believe or not, I agree with you. I'm not a fan of big box stores, but in today's economy, a big box might be the only thing to bring real competition to towns like ours. Ironic as that is.

    I'd rather have a Target, though!

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  14. Think about the past 50 years. Our population has remained steady at around 6000 people, but the shopping patterns have changed dramatically. We once supported many more businesses, multiple grocers, multiple auto dealers, clothing stores, shoes and more in Madison. In the future, retail will continue to struggle, but service businesses will grow. It's hard to compete with Walmart and their powerful buying power. They suck the retail life out of smaller towns, but they also serve their purpose, saving people money on huge inventories. Our retail sales would grow dramatically with a competitive second grocery store because that is our largest retail leakage. People want competition, which also brings more people into Madison. Communities with increased competition are growing. It is what we need in several areas.


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