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Crossroads IGA employees and members of the Madison Chamber of Commerce participate in the official ribbon cutting ceremony at the new facility Jan. 9. (Record Photo/Kendyl Hollingsworth)

First of three Crossroads IGA stores now open in Madison

MADISON — Madison is now the first city in the area to become home to a Crossroads IGA grocery store, and two more locations are already in the works as Madison continues to grow.

Crossroads IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance) is one of 17 subsidiaries of Kentucky-based Houchens Industries Inc., which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2017.

“We’re the largest employee-owned company in the United States now that nobody knows about,” said Houchens Industries Director of Operations Stephen Reed.

According to Reed, Crossroads IGA seeks to provide communities with a quick and convenient grocery option for individuals and families on the go.

The Madison Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the brand-new facility the morning of Jan. 9 to officially welcome Crossroads IGA to the Madison community.

“This is a really important event for us,” Reed said at the ceremony. “We open a lot of stores in and around our geography of south-central Kentucky and thereabouts, but this is our first venture into your community and this part of Alabama. We like it so much that we’re coming back.”

According to Madison Mayor Paul Finley, the two additional grocery stores are planned near the intersections of Wall Triana Highway and Gillespie Road, as well as County Line and Mill roads.

Houchens Industries and IGA began more than 100 years ago as a small grocery company in south-central Kentucky owned by Ervin Houchens. Houchens developed a reputation as a man who “was very good to his employees,” sharing his wealth through a retirement program. After his retirement, Houchens’ employees decided to buy the company from him and create an employee stock option plan (ESOP).

Reed emphasized that Crossroads IGA is different from the average convenience store. While it carries many of the snack and beverage staples found in most gas station convenience stores, it also offers a wide variety of other products, including fresh and pre-packaged meals, frozen foods, paper products, toiletries and household staples.

“Once you come through the door, this is more than that,” Reed added. “Most convenience stores are owned and operated by petroleum people. We’re not petroleum people. … We’re food people. That’s where we started 100 years ago, and we’ve never varied from that.”

The store also contains a coffee station and operates in conjunction with a Which Wich sandwich shop, though what really sets IGA stores apart, Reed noted, is their selection of meats and produce. In addition, the grab-and-go orientation of these IGA stores allows for on-the-go shoppers to get what they need in a timely manner.

“We’re going to have the best of the best when it comes to fresh beef, poultry and pork that’s choice and all-natural, or we’re going to have the best of the best when it comes to fresh produce because that’s what we do,” Reed affirmed. “… We have a preparation area [in the back] that we are the cooks, we are those that prepare, and we do procure all of our own fresh food.”

At the grand opening, Crossroads IGA offered up samples of their chicken salad, which they had made from their own rotisserie chicken. Fresh fruit cups prepared onsite were also available for purchase.

Reed also explained that other food and beverage products available at the store are priced “as if we were going to sell it to you in our supermarkets.”

Though Crossroads IGA may not offer big-ticket items that draw customers to large chain grocery stores, Reed said he hopes everyone will at least give them a try. “We’re here to supply those needs that you have on a fill-in basis at a supermarket-comparable price,” he said.

Finley thanked Reed and the rest of the Houchens and IGA team for their investment in the city and noted his own personal excitement for their arrival in Madison.

“As someone who is originally from south-central Kentucky, who has family that’s still up there, I’m intimately aware of who you are and very excited to know that you’re coming, not only once but three times in our city,” he said.

In addition, Finley recognized Crossroads IGA’s value to the city, both financially and in meeting citizens’ needs. He noted how the store will contribute to the sales tax inflow to Madison, which will in turn help the city continue to meet its citizens’ needs, describing it as a “win-win” situation. Finley also assured Crossroads IGA that it will receive full support from both Madison’s chamber of commerce and city council.

“As mayor … these are the types of things that are neat for our community to continue to happen, and we just recognize how blessed we are in this area and how we continue to grow, and we want to make it easy for our citizens to get back and forth and have the convenience that they need,” he added.

Both Division Manager Tim Sturgill and District Manager Tammie Banks thanked everyone who came to the grand opening and said they appreciated the warm welcome from the community. Sturgill also recognized the many Crossroads IGA employees who helped prepare the store for its opening day.

“I see a bunch of faces around here that I know have spent a lot of hours here and a lot of days and a lot of nights away from home to help make this happen,” he said at the ceremony. “I just want to recognize and thank you.”

Courtney Stewart, who has plenty of prior experience in the food and beverage industry, was one employee who helped guests feel welcome during their first visit to the new Crossroads IGA. He said being able to help and interact with customers is one aspect of the job that he loves.

Stewart also reiterated that the company is employee-owned, and upcoming stores will continue the trend of operating alongside a Which Wich.

“We’re growing,” he added. “We are spreading our wings here in Alabama.”

Crossroads IGA is located at the corner of Shelton Road and Old Madison Pike in Madison. The facility also houses the Shell gas station and Which Wich sandwich shop.

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