'We're hometown proud': Mahomet IGA happy to serve community

Each week, we interview a business in town. This week, Brooks Marsh, co-owner of the Mahomet IGA, recently sat down with The Mahomet Citizen's Emily Jankauski.

Twenty one years ago, Brooks Marsh moved to Mahomet after growing up on a cattle ranch in Plentywood, Mont., which he described as "the most desolate part of Montana near the Canadian border."

For the last 13 years, he, along with this wife, Tammy, have owned the Mahomet IGA grocery store. The couple have six children. Marsh got his start in wholesale foods through serving the SuperValu Corp.'s Champaign division.

1: What's the best part of Mahomet IGA?

Simply being part of the community. It's really all about people. It starts with our employees, they know most of the faces.

We have about 100 employees and about 60 of them are kids. We have a chance to give them that first job and teach them to serve people.

We have a responsibility to teach them to learn how to listen and work with people. That's why we have carryout still and if somebody has a question we'll take them to the right shelf, and if somebody wants an item we try to get it.

2: Aside from being a wholesale grocer, what's something most people don't know about you?

Most people wouldn't picture me sitting on a horse on a ranch on a cold day in Montana, but that's where I started and I learned a great foundation of work from that. But I also knew it wasn't a social enough environment for me. My other family members took that business and I moved on.

I came from a big family. I had seven brothers and one sister so we had fun on the ranch. We had no video games. We had two channels from Canada and they were both fuzzy and so we pretty much lived the outdoor life growing up.

3: How do you best serve the Mahomet community?

If there's something more we can do for you, we want to meet your need, whether it be food or something in a way we serve you. That's what we search for all of the time. When we expanded our store, we knew that we weren't meeting the needs in our community, in terms of variety, especially in the perishable side of our store.

What more can we do? We search for that every year. Bringing sushi, I never realized what a thing that would be. We sell a ton of sushi and that was a customer request. You can get sushi in some of the big stores in Champaign, so we said, 'let's try it.' It's amazing how well it does.

4: What sets your business apart from area competitors?

When we say, "we're hometown proud," it's being part of the community, being at the center of the community. We do a ton with the schools and the kids and the families, and we try to participate as much as we can. We like serving our community. I keep saying that over and over, but really that's what it's all about.

Everybody can sell green beans. I tell every employee that everybody's got a story, everybody's got an issue going on in their life, they want to get in and out of the grocery store, but if your smile, your help or your 'thank you' makes their day a little bit better, then you've had some impact beyond scanning a can of green beans — that's really what it's all about.

5: What's next for Mahomet IGA?

It's the 60th anniversary of Mahomet IGA. We'll have a celebration in a month and a truckload meat and produce sale from April 29 through May 6. We'll have giveaways and sales and stuff for the kids, like balloons and slides. We do an anniversary sale every year. The outside event will be that Saturday, May 5.

Every year we try to do more. We're just getting ready to roll out our online couponing so our customers can look at their phones and get 250 coupons every week. Later this year we'll be doing click and pick, meaning people can order online and they can come pick it up at our door.

We're always saying, "What's the next thing we can do to serve the changing needs of the community?" People are very diverse and so there is a lot of changing needs and going forward, these are the things customers are needing and wanting. Mahomet is growing and it's a wonderful community and it's a blessing to be here.

Categories (4):News, Miscellaneous, People, Business

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