New Port grocery store on track to open Aug. 8

Piggly Wiggly’s renovation of former Sentry market on schedule, company has hired 60 employees

A NEW, TALL SIGN at the NorthPort Shopping Center in Port Washington denotes the building as the home of a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. The storefront is undergoing extensive renovations but is on track to open as the eighth Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly store Wednesday, Aug. 8. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The exterior of the building on Port Washington’s far north side has been painted, and new signs sport the red-and-white signs.

And on the  inside, another transformation is well underway as the former Sentry grocery store at the NorthPort Shopping Center becomes a Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly.

In less than two months, the store interior has been largely transformed. What was once a gutted grocery is now unmistakably a market, with bright aisles filled with shelving, new coolers and cases lining the walls and new ceramic flooring and lighting.

“The project has gone extremely well,” said Pat Fox, president of Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly. “Everybody’s pretty confident we should be able to open on Aug. 8.”

The store — the eighth in the Fox Bros. chain — won’t open with a formal grand opening sale or celebration, Fox said. Instead, it will open as Fox Bros. celebrates its 30th anniversary. The opening will be celebrated on Aug. 22.

“We’re just going to open the doors,” he said. 

On hand when the store opens will be new store manager Jake Saugestad, who has been the director of the Fox. Bros. Jackson store.

Thanks to a recent job fair, about 60 people are already on staff at the Port store, Saugestad said, including about 25 who are currently working at Fox. Bros. stores in Saukville and Jackson and a number of former Sentry employees.  

Given the tight job market, Fox said, he was initially worried about staffing.

“We were very concerned about it, but it went quite well,” he said. “We’re just about where we want to be. But we’re still looking for some people.”

For many Port customers, the opening of the grocery can’t come too soon. The city has been without a grocery store since Sentry closed its doors in March, when Joe and Santo Sanfilippo retired after 14 years at the Port store.

Many customers have been telling him they’re excited for the store to open, Fox said. 

“We’re pretty excited, too,” he said. “When people walk in, they’re not going to remember the old store. At the end of the day, we’re presenting a new store.”

 The 47,150-square-foot store has about 30,000 square feet of retail space. It feels spacious and open but is actually slightly smaller than Sentry was, Fox said, noting they enclosed an alcove at the back of the grocery for storage.

In large part, Fox said, they kept the former floor plan, with the produce department upfront and the deli and bakery next to it. The only piece of equipment left from the Sentry days, a cooler, is in the back of the store, where the seafood and meat department is located.

In the dairy and juice area, refrigerated cases with doors have been installed, something that will not only add energy efficiency but also help keep the store warmer, Fox said.

The floral department and a large liquor department are at the front of the store. Fox said they’re going to include a “good deals” area in the department where some of the products they buy in volume to get the best price will be featured.

“We’ll have the largest selection of craft beers in the area, far and away,” Fox said. 

Six checkout lanes can be found at the front of the store, along with two registers at the front desk.

New to the store are several of what Fox called entertainment areas — one directly in front of the entry and another near the meats —where the store can build displays and host sales and events.

“It’s almost like a theatrical space,” Fox said.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for Fox, who only opened discussions with Piggly Wiggly Midwest about acquiring the store on Feb. 20 and inked the deal to come to Port on May 2.

Fox Bros. is continuing to look at expansions, he said, but they probably won’t add any stores in the near future.

“We’re going to take a break after this,” Fox said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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