Fresh ownership, same staff at former Jim's Market in West St. Paul


Neil Oxendale took over ownership of Jim's Market this month. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

In 2011, Jim's family-owned supermarket chain bought and renovated R.C. Dick's Market, near the intersection of Smith Avenue and Dodd Road. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

The store changed hands again this month, and, though the only noticeable change so far is a paper sign taped to the entrance with the new name, Oxendale's Market, the employees are already looking forward to the fresh approach. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Oxendale's Market shops changes to store, stock

With two shifts in ownership in just over three years, employees at what still looks like Jim's Market in West St. Paul are used to seeing changes to the store and stock.

In 2011, Jim's family-owned supermarket chain bought and renovated R.C. Dick's Market at 374 W. Bernard St., near the intersection of Smith Avenue and Dodd Road. The store changed hands again this month, and, though the only noticeable change so far is a paper sign taped to the entrance with the new name, Oxendale's Market, the employees are already looking forward to the fresh approach under new owner Neil Oxendale.

"All the employees here at the former Jim's Market are staying at this store, and we're all looking forward to the new ownership, and the new changes that are coming," said store manager Tom McDonough, who has worked at the store in Doddway Shopping Center for about 18 years and lives in the area. "They have high hopes for our store and so do we."

The existing "small-town" feel of the store — employees know many customers by name — will only be enhanced by the "super-local" touches the new owner says he'll add, after the holiday season settles.

The Jim's signage and what fills the shelves looks the same for now. But Oxendale has big plans to bring more local, organic and small-batch products, such as Minnesota's own Ames Farm honey, Hope Creamery butter and Peace Coffee, to the second shop of its kind in the Twin Cities area. Oxendale has owned a store of the same name in the Nokomis East Neighborhood of south Minneapolis for over seven years, where his retired father and other family members also work.

Decades in the business

Oxendale started in the grocery world at 15, as a stock boy at the Nokomis location (he grew up two blocks away). By 16, he was a night supervisor trusted to lock up the store at closing time.

He studied entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas.

When the opportunity to buy the Nokomis store came up, it just felt right (and the market studies he was able to conduct for that location didn't hurt). He took over Oct. 7, 2007.

In part due to customer feedback, Oxendale said he has since found his niche: providing options that are healthy, local and still affordable.

"It's helped us grow into who we are, just by listening to what people want," said Oxendale, who now lives six blocks from the first Oxendale's with his wife and twin 11-month-old daughters.

He hopes to do the same in West St. Paul.

He has connections with co-ops, local farmers and community-supported agriculture (CSAs). He's been meeting with the building's landlord to plan renovations, but wants to hear from customers on what they'd like to see, to give the store a "fresh look."

From the food and products he offers to being involved in community events, groups and efforts, he said he is working towards instilling pride in Oxendale's, "making it so people say this is their store."

West St. Paul grocery shoppers have seen a major shift in their supermarket options this month.

Jerry's Enterprises, owner of the area Cub Foods, bought Rainbow Foods on South Robert Street earlier this year and recently closed the store.

Although there are several grocery stores in and near West St. Paul, Oxendale's is unique to the Smith Avenue neighborhood. Cub Foods, Wal-Mart and Super Target are a few miles south of Oxendale's, and Mississippi Market is across the river to the northwest.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.

 

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