Village Market Food Center
Village Market Food Centers are a small chain of two supermarkets in Elk Rapids, MI and Alden, MI. They are one of Elk Rapids' largest employers with over 140 employees and is one of the largest companies based in Antrim County, MI. The stores are owned by local resident Rick Young, who also owns a car wash in Elk Rapids and a 50% share of a Save-A-Lot in Kalkaska, MI.
History and Expansion
The history of the Village Market dates to 1949 when Donald Pozolo started a small grocery store and gas station in the village's east side called Don's Grocery. At the time, Elk Rapids had an A&P downtown, and was considered the 'big store' of Elk Rapids. However, Don's store was leased, so he bought land across the street and built a new store. The new Don's Grocery opened in 1955. The original Don's Grocery stands, and is now a laundromat.
The new store flourished, and was considered the de facto grocer for many in Elk Rapids when the A&P shuttered in the early 1970s. That store became an IGA but was closed by 1974. It's now several businesses, such as The Place (which designs promotional items) and a gift shop. Elk Rapids had one other grocer, Ed's Foodliner/Ed and Son's, which ran from 1954 to 1994 when it became Zager's Market. Owner Scott Zagers shut the store down when he started focusing more on his profitable Zagolli's feta cheese dips in the early 2000s .
However, in the early 70s, Pozolo developed health problems, and was suggested to sell the store. So, in 1974, he sold it to two Michigan residents, Rick Young and Harold Prince. The two friends started Young and Prince Enterprises, which became the parent company of their business interests. The store - then named Don's Supermarket - was renamed A&L Village Market. The "A&L" was named after their then-wives, Alyse (Prince) and Linda (Young).
In 1977 Young forced out Prince, and the "A&L" name was dropped.
Over the years, in the age of shutting down old stores and building new ones to keep up with competition, Young was constantly grandfathering the always-busy Elk Rapids store with constant remodelings and expansions. He added on a bakery and deli in the late 1970s and video rentals in the early 1980s. He also made the front part of the store the back and vice versa by building a new parking lot and eliminating the doors where the front used to be. In the late 1990s Young expanded the store once again buy building a new produce department and expanding the frozen foods section.
In the early 1980s Young owned a small party store at the Torch River Bridge. He has since sold it off. In 1990 he purchased a former Viking Foods store in Alden, MI, which he's since expanded and added gas.
In the late 1980s Young started a Mobil gas station at the Elk Rapids store. In the mid 1990s it became an independent. However, it was destroyed in 2002 due to arson, but was rebuilt shortly after (http://www.record-eagle.com/2002/may/29fire.htm).
In 2002, Young, along with former Antrim County Sheriff Dale Roeggenbeck started a Save-A-Lot store in Kalkaska, focusing on deep discount groceries. The store features a separate gas station/party store selling regular grocery goods.
Recently, the Elk Rapids store decreased its video selection to make way for an increased alcohol department, including a new walk-in beer cooler.
In recent years, Young's son, Kevin, has taken more managerial duties from his father.
Village Markets, except for the Save-A-Lot, are affiliated with Spartan Stores.