Dan's Supermarket opens

Dan's Supermarket held a grand opening in February for its newest store located in Sunrise Centre on Yorktown Drive in northeast Bismarck. Welcoming guests and customers to festivities was Dan's CEO Terry Rockstad, center, visiting with Mary Pat and Tom Woodmansee, who attended the ribbon-cutting event. At left is Janel Haugarth, executive vice president of Super Valu in Minneapolis, Minn. Haugarth, who is a Jamestown native, presented Bismarck-based Dan's Supermarket with a plaque recognizing its 65 years in business.

SpartanNash Company is buying the Dan's Supermarket chain, according to the grocers' owners, the Rockstad Family.

The six stores that make up Dan's operation in the Bismarck-Mandan area are being purchased by the same company that bought the Dickinson area stores in December of 2013.

"SpartanNash has previously shown us in Dickinson that they will be dedicated to continuing to provide quality stores to our customers and being a good responsible local citizen," said a statement released by Dan's Supermarket.

Terrance Rockstad, chairman of the board of Dan’s Supermarket, and CEO Dennis Bosch, who have each been with the company for more than 40 years, have decided to retire to have more time with their families.

"While I have enjoyed all my various roles and immersed myself in all the new challenges, it has been difficult to always balance my personal life with my professional life," Rockstad said in a letter. "My family and also my friends are very important to me, and, this year, it just seemed like the right time to spend more time with both my wife, my daughter and all my treasured friends."

The stores will continue to operate under the Dan’s name. The purchase is expected to be finalized in early June. Dan's employees will continue to be employed with SpartanNash.

“SpartanNash is excited to welcome Dan’s Supermarket into our family," CEO Dennis Eidson said in a statement. "We have enjoyed serving the Dickinson community and look forward to the opportunity to provide the Bismarck-Mandan area with quality products, competitive pricing, exceptional customer service and community support."

SpartanNash will distribute products to the Dan’s Supermarket locations from its Fargo Distribution Center, replacing former distributor SUPERVALU.

“SUPERVALU has enjoyed serving Dan’s for the past 65 years, and, while we would have enjoyed continuing to work with them, we wish the family and all employees the best in the future," said spokesman Luke Friedrich. "Beyond that, we just learned of this decision today and cannot offer further comment at this time.”

Cooper Whitman, the director of the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce said, when SpartanNash took over the Dickinson stores, there were major changes, all for the better.

Whitman said product selection and customer experience were improved — from fresh squeezed orange juice available daily to shorter lines to a large new store.

"There will be a lot of noticeable changes," he said.

Whitman said there were some members of the community who would have liked the store to remain locally owned but he said SpartanNash has been active in the community, making donations and hosting large community events during its grand opening and re-opening.

Dan's has operated in Bismarck-Mandan for 65 years.

In 1949, Roy Rockstad and Eugene "Bus" Leary opened Bismarck Super Valu near the bus depot in downtown Bismarck under an independent franchise finance program. The store was smaller than Dan's stores today, with wooden floors and overhead fans, according to previous stories published in the Tribune. There was no bakery or deli, and the only items in the small refrigerated section were meat, eggs and a few dairy items, as most people still had milk home-delivered by carriers.

The company grew, opening a second store in 1960 and a third in 1970.

"We didn't measure time in hours and days. We didn't punch a time clock; we did what needed to be done. And yet, it was enjoyable — it really was," Roy Rockstad had said at his retirement from the company in 1985.

At that time, Dan's was on its third generation of customers, and Roy Rockstad credited the store's success to "community involvement and good employees."

"We — as a company and as individuals — have tried to get involved, tried to make this a better place to work, shop and live," Roy Rockstad said in an article published in the Tribune Sept. 8, 1985.  

(Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com)

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