Redner’s Fresh Market: Fresh and Bold

Redner’s Fresh Market in Lewes, DE, has a dedicated station for in-house pre-cut fruit, conveniently located on the sales floor. The store is the flagship in the new concept for Reading, PA-based Redner’s Markets, which operates 44 stores. A fifth Fresh Market is set to open this fall.

A commitment to increase the contribution of perishables results in an inspired new concept.

Originally printed in the September 2023 issue of Produce Business.

Redner’s Fresh Market stores take the company’s commitment to quality, fresh products to an even higher level. Gone is the generic feel of a warehouse store, replaced by sleek and modern design elements with an open, airy feel.

The Lewes, DE, store opened Nov. 17, 2022, according to Mark Côté, regional produce supervisor at Redner’s Markets in Reading, PA, operating 44 stores. “This is our flagship store, as far as our Fresh Market concept goes,” says Côté, adding a fifth Fresh Market store will open in Langhorne, PA, this fall.

Leading the new Fresh Market concept for Redner’s are Mark Marcinkowski, the Lewes store produce manager; Mark Cote, regional produce supervisor; and Joe Agosti, store director.

The Fresh Market stores boast an enhanced perishable department with a one-of-a-kind layout.

“Our produce section is particularly noteworthy, featuring a dedicated station for our in-house pre-cut fruit and vegetable program, conveniently located on the sales floor,” says Côté. “We’ve also elevated our floral department by creating unique floral arrangements.”

“Most of our Fresh Market stores have been existing stores that we revamped to this concept. However, the Lewes store was built from the ground up.”

The employee- and family-owned supermarket chain established the Fresh Market concept to enhance competitiveness.

“Our revamped Fresh Market appearance has enabled us to achieve our aim of selling a higher quantity of perishable goods compared to groceries,” says Côté. “The Lewes opening has been a tremendous success and we have witnessed significant growth across all perishable departments. The produce department, in particular, has been leading the way with increased sales.”


The produce department plays a vital role in creating a warm welcome for shoppers entering the store. “It offers fresh and wholesome food options, making it a popular department and a top contributor to the store’s overall profit,” says Côté. “The produce team in Lewes has successfully attained a distribution rate of 16%.”

Entering Redner’s Fresh Market in Lewes, DE, customers are greeted by two refrigerated cases of pre-cut and value-added fruits and vegetables, each 12-by-4 feet.

The Lewes store totals 47,800 square feet, with a 6,000-square-foot produce department. “Our primary merchandising principles involve grouping items together and ensuring displays burst with the appropriate colors,” says Côté. “This is crucial for attracting customers and creating an appealing shopping experience.

Entering the store, customers are greeted by two artfully arranged refrigerated cases of pre-cut and value-added fruits and vegetables, each 12-by-4 feet. The large, open department beckons shoppers to enter and browse with ease. Multiple islands provide creativity and flexibility in merchandising. Bins between the permanent displays showcase special seasonal buys or local produce.

The department uses nesting tables to showcase nonrefrigerated items.

“We have a specialized cold case dedicated solely to fruits and vegetables and separate cold cases specifically for organic products,” says Côté. “We have increased the number of refrigerated cases within the department to highlight our promotional products. To enhance the overall shopping experience, we also provide convenient shippers for our customers.”

An impressive 12-foot-long wet rack along the left side of the department boasts an extensive assortment of cooking vegetables and a variety of fresh greens. A 60-foot refrigerated case, encompassing 250 fresh items, lines the back side and uses attractively displayed baskets. The store employs a cross-merchandising strategy along the top of the refrigerated case for related items, such as caramel dips, fruit roll-ups and apple chips.

The department layout is modified every season to promote the fruits and vegetables currently in season. The department is also constantly working during the day to ensure optimal merchandising.

“We sometimes re-merchandise the floor twice during one shift,” says Mark Marcinkowski, Lewes produce manager. “What you see in the morning may be very different from what you see in the afternoon. We want to be constantly meeting customer needs.”


The store takes pride in offering its shoppers a wide range of produce options. The Lewes produce department displays an average of 600 items, including nuts, raisins, croutons, drinks and other products.

The store produce manager receives multiple order guides, including the Specialty Survey created by the company’s senior buyer, Jim Hickey.

“This guide provides many rare items not commonly found in other produce departments,” explains Côté. “This program has revolutionized how we promote unusual and staple produce items, making us a standout choice for shoppers seeking high-quality and diverse produce options.”

Redner’s Fresh Market has cold cases dedicated solely to fruits or vegetables, and separate cold cases for organic produce.

Serving as proof is a special Hispanic section in the refrigerated case that displays tamarind, sofrito, fresh turmeric, aloe leaves, nopal and tropical juices. A dry specialty display boasts a variety of roots and tubers, and draws shopper attention with stalks of sugar cane.

A two-case organic section consists of an 8-by-16-foot dry island and another 8-by-16-foot refrigerated island. Adequate organic signage dots each of the displays, but the magnum opus is a huge hanging organic sign above the area.

“I call that sign the silent salesman,” says Côté. “Before we put it up, customers were always asking if we had organics, even though the smaller signs were on the display. Now, no one has to ask.”


The company counts on many long-term relationships it has developed with a number of sources, according to Hickey. “We are very proud of our relationships and prefer to think of them as partnerships,” he says. “Companies including Nunes, Grimmway Farms, TM Kovacevich, Top Crop, Pure Flavor, Giumarra and Giorgio Fresh are just a few of the partners that have loyally grown with us over many, many years.”

Redner’s has been a loyal and valued customer of the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market for decades.

“We love the Philly Market,” says Hickey. “We have a long history with the market, as our founder and ‘chief’ himself used to walk the old market off Packer Avenue. I’ve been with the company for over 35 years and have walked The Market for 20 of those.

“While we don’t have a physical presence there anymore, our relationships endure. Many of the key players are still there, as they were 35 years ago, and still cater to our specs and value our business.”

The company’s local program also boasts a history. “We work with many growers committed to the long haul, including Lee Spencer, Doreen and Dean of Shanesville Orchards or Mike Fink,” says Hickey. “Being quite independent, we also have the luxury of tapping into quality relationships with an array of wholesalers. Lancaster Foods, Four Seasons, UNFI, and Albert’s Organics are all very receptive to meeting our needs. We can even trace our wholesale partnerships back to the days of Norristown Wholesale.”

The company delivers six days a week to the Lewes store to ensure the freshest produce. Quality and freshness are crucial sourcing criteria for the company.

“Our loyal vendor partners of any stature — be it principal, local, wholesale or imported — will take the time to consider the condition of the product they have for shipping,” says Hickey. “If, by chance, they are hitting some rough times and really aren’t happy with what they are packing, they will let us know, so we can make adjustments prior to having the problem show up on our doorstep.”

“We don’t have ‘stacks in the racks’ and ‘piles in the aisles’ and we work hard to get our inventory turns. If we order product to be delivered, we need it that day.”

A special Hispanic section in the refrigerated case displays tamarind, sofrito, fresh turmeric, aloe leaves, nopal and tropical juices.

What makes the sourcing relationships work, according to Hickey, is the loyalty in the partnership. “Outside of the local relationships, we probably don’t waiver much during the course of the year unless we have production problems at the source,” he says. “This loyalty pays big dividends when the market goes sideways, which it often can. Our vendor partners appreciate our regular business, and when times get tough, they will stick by us and keep us thriving.”


Redner’s stands out for its focus on the communities it serves. “We have prided ourselves on maintaining a local, hometown approach with our operational and pricing approach, and feel that achieving this core goal keeps our guests loyal to our store,” says Eric White, director of advertising. “Anyone who desires low prices, fresh product and shopping in a rewarding environment is our target guest.”

The store uses proven methods to drive traffic, such as distributing weekly circulars. “Our store’s sampling stations have been a massive hit with customers, generating significant interest both in-store and on our Facebook page,” says Côté. The stations are managed by registered corporate dietitian, Meredith McGrath.

The company’s latest addition, Chuck’s Choice, is an initiative for the whole chain, designed to ignite shopper interest in its produce departments. “Spearheaded by Redner’s produce director, Chuck Link, this program collaborates with our buyers to determine unbeatable retail prices for select seasonal items,” says Côté. “These deals are typically offered in-store from Thursday through Monday, ensuring our guests always get the best deals.”

The store’s training methods are tailored to meet the unique needs of shoppers. “We utilize videos to introduce new employees and a standardized test for all new applicants,” says Côté. “Our store personnel provide four hours of training to each new employee, ensuring we maintain high training standards. We emphasize that all employees are trained to physically guide customers to a particular item within the store when asked, rather than simply providing directions.”

Redner’s also stands out from other retailers in that it is a 100% Employee Owned (ESOP) company. “All our associates have a stake in the company through issued stock for retirement,” says White.

Therefore, the pride our team has in their company is reflected through our operations. We all work to create a rewarding experience by being a great place to shop and work. When this is achieved, we all see the positive results.”


Redner’s Fresh Market
24120 Zinfandel Lane, Lewes, DE, 19958
Tel: 302-966-3910
Hours: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.