ST. CHARLES – For more than 90 years, Blue Goose Market has been a part of the fabric of the community.
Blue Goose Market President and CEO Paul Lencioni hopes that will be the case for many more years to come. Last summer, he had a news conference in front of the 92-year-old store to convey that the store was fighting for its survival in the face of the competitive grocery business.
After the news conference, the store saw a surge in customers. But since then, business has slowed down and Lencioni wants people to know that he continues to look at ways the store can serve its customers better.
That includes recently upgrading the store's lighting and launching a delivery and pickup service. In addition, there is new management in place in the produce and grocery departments and in customer service.
"Those changes are difficult to make and we did them very quickly," Lencioni said. "We were incredibly lucky and fortunate to find great people to do those jobs. We have been busting our tails to really make improvements to the store, but we've always been making improvements to the store."
Other improvements include adding a wine bar last summer, which he said is already helping to create more of a sense of community at the store. As Lencioni related, the store saw a significant uptick in customers for a couple of months after the news conference.
"It definitely showed that there's a lot of support for Blue Goose in the market," he said. "Business surged enough to catch us up."
But Lencioni understands the challenge of trying to attract customers.
"There are so many choices in shopping, especially if you get a new customer and they're already shopping somewhere else," he said. "It takes a while to learn how to shop at a new store. When you think about the amount of products on a shelf, you might overlook some awesome products. But it showed very much that there is viability for the Blue Goose."
He sees Blue Goose as a community store.
"That's the No. 1 factor that makes Blue Goose different," Lencioni said. "Yes, we have a lot of unique products. We have a ton of homemade products. But we do it because we care about people and we care about people's lives. It is such a fundamental commitment to the community that we serve and that's not a thing that you see in business. Business on a corporate level is about making a transaction using the lowest output of resources. Local business is about creating as much value as possible. So you go the extra mile."
In 1928, Annunciata “Nancy” Lencioni – his great-grandmother – opened the Blue Goose Fruit Market in what had been Gartner’s Bakery, 201 W. Main St. The store moved to its current location at 300 S. Second St. in downtown St. Charles in 2008.
Lencioni, who lives in St. Charles, said he remains committed to St. Charles.
"This is my home," he said. "I want there to be a Blue Goose in my home. I want there to be things that create community, that bring people together and create relationships and trust."