Grocery    Shoppers from Breese and other locales walked through the front doors of Farm Fresh Market in Breese, as the grocer held its long-awaited opening Tuesday morning.
    Sam Ramadan, owner of the store and Triple Crown Developments of Fairview Heights, finally delivered on his promise  last year to get a grocery store in the building he purchased in August 2019.
    Farm Fresh Market will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. The deli will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    A grand opening for the store is scheduled for Oct. 30.
    Sara Marcum is the store's manager and Leticia "Lily" Holthaus is the assistant manager.

    On Tuesday it was quiet but slightly busy, as store employees, dressed in Farm Fresh white polos, were greeting customers and ready to answer questions amid their tidying up display areas and adding products to where things had been purchased.
    Customers picked up shopping carts and rolled up and down the aisles as if they'd been there the day before.
    Most of the opening fanfare was the day before, with the Breese Chamber of Commerce sponsoring a ribbon cutting for the store Monday afternoon.
    A pair of ladies mistakenly came into the store Monday afternoon, thinking it was open for business.
    They got a quick look at the fully-stocked interior, were able to ask Ramadan some questions and were on their way.
    "Looks a little different than the last time you were in here?" said deli manager Denise Koopman to Germantown Trust and Savings Bank President Dale Deiters and Breese Mayor Kevin Timmermann, who were on hand for the ribbon cutting.
    Deiters and Timmermann both agreed the store was different in its appearance.
    Koopman worked for 32 years in the same capacity with the SuperValu stores and was taking that up again with Farm Fresh.
    The coffee shop, Molly's Mochas, isn't expected to open until the start of November.
    A painter was in the nook Tuesday morning, doing work on the back wall of the space.
    Dave Hummert of Breese was mingling with some of the dignitaries there for Monday's ribbon cutting.
    He was panning around, looking at the expanse of the place and admiring the new racks that had been set for the store's reopening. He commented that the store did look nice and he hopes it does well.
    Josh Winkler, president and CEO of Winkler Inc. of Dale, Indiana, spoke Monday about his company's work with Ramadan and his enterprise.
    Winkler Inc. is an independent wholesale grocery company that's been in business 110 years.
    Family owned and operated, Winkler said they service independent operations like Ramadan's and Farm Fresh, and others throughout the midwest.
    "We specialize in what I call smaller independents," Winkler said. "Not your big Walmarts or Krogers, but this sized store."
    Farm Fresh is not linked with the Farm Fresh chain out of Chester. Winkler is familiar with the latter company, and his company does serve that chain as well.
    "This is his independent name. Farm Fresh Market is unique to him [Ramadan] and this town," Winkler said.
    Winkler said all their programs are "catered to the needs of this type of customer, with ad programs, with product variety, promotions."
    He said they don't just sell product but will help Ramadan with advertisement, website, text marketing, and other areas, things "that retailers need to be successful. So we try to give him the tools he needs to be successful." 
    Winkler pointed out that it was not just his company, but all the vendors involved who have product in the Farm Fresh building, that came together to make this possible.
    Past and present
    Farm Fresh Market occupies the space once occupied by Schuette's Market and, before that, the SuperValu store.
    In September 2018, owner Michael Schuette closed the last of the Schuette's Market stores — the Breese and Troy locations — after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection that same month.
    Schuette Stores reported having as many as 99 creditors that were owed up to $50,000 at the time of the bankruptcy filing. The company estimated its assets to be worth between $1 million and $10 million.
    The Schuette chain was founded by Peter Schuette, who opened the first store — a general store sporting his name — in St. Rose after immigrating from Germany to the United States in the 1860s.
    The chain — with locations in  Breese, St. Rose, Carlyle, Highland and Troy — had operated under brands such as Piggly Wiggly, Califo Markets, SSS Super Tom Boy Market and SuperValu through the years.