Through the Lens: Welcome Riesbeck’s to Our Community
As the sun rose this morning over downtown New Martinsville, it will be the first time since 1944 it will not shine on a grocery business owned and operated by the Witschey family. As of yesterday, Bill Witschey and family no longer operate the downtown grocery we have known for most of our lives. What made the business not only survive and grow over those 76 years? I believe it because of the fact it’s a family business, that we knew and trusted.
Today on the store front is a new name, Riesbeck’s. It is a name not unknown to most people that have watched television and seen their commercials. Riesbeck’s has something in common with the Witschey’s, it is also a family operation with a long history in the grocery business. Their story begins in the 1920s with the death of Clement Riesbeck. His wife Margret (Schumacher) Riesbeck decided to relocate after his passing to Woodsfield, Ohio. In order to support her family, Margret opened the “corner grocery” store in 1925. Then in 1932, “Grandma”, as Margaret was known, opened the first “Riesbeck’s in Martins Ferry. Since those first couple of stores, the Riesbeck family has been very much part of the areas history.
Over the last 95 years, the business under the leadership of the Riesbeck’s family has grown many times. Today, there are 13 locations in eastern and southern Ohio and in northern West Virginia. Twelve of those operations are under the Riesbeck’s name. A thirteenth business is located in Cambridge and operates under the name, “Cash Saver.”
Over the years, the Riesbeck’s family has witnessed many changes in the grocery industry. They have managed to expand their grocery chain, while competing with super stores that have thousands of locations around the country. They have been able to compete in a difficult market by following a simple philosophy with this pledge to their customers. Treat customers with Honesty, Respect and Dignity and always make sure Riesbeck’s Word Means Everything. That guiding principle is very similar to the Witschey family business ideals throughout the years. With their business core values so closely aligned, it will be a smooth transition for Riesbeck’s to take on that same trust with Witschey’s customers.
Riesbeck’s currently has approximately 1100 employees that are associates in their area stores. With the purchase of Witschey’s, its employees will now join their family of associates. All of the current employees were extended the opportunity to remain with the new operations.
Being a long time family business, Witschey’s customers have come to expect to see familiar faces when they shop. Some faces may change over time, but Denny and Rose Wichterman will remain as part of the Riesbeck’s family. They will co-manger the stores operations. The Riesbeck’s management team recognized their dedication and unwavering commitment to customers and Witschey’s business for the last 44 years. Steve Riesbeck commented as we spoke about Denny and Rose, “It may sound clichÈ, but our biggest resource is are people.” I believe he wanted to emphasize that Denny and Rose will continue that customer goal.
Most people are expecting changes when a new owner takes over the operations of a business. And overtime there will be some changes customers will recognize. Riesbeck’s like Witschey’s has learned what customers want when they shop. But, there will be some changes in products offered. The main reason, the store receives it products from wholes sale suppliers, MDI. Riesbeck’s receives its product lines from Associated Whole Sale Grocery, AWG. Customers should not see much of a change in both quality and pricing when it comes to products they will find on the store shelves.
One of the first changes customers will experience will be in the produce department. Steve Riesbeck explained, the produce they intend to stock will please customers. Variety and quality of their fresh produce line is already proven itself at their other store locations.
In store departments, such as the deli, meat department, and bakery will over time see changes in service and products offered. In the future, each of these departments will now have a program directors to help oversee their operations. Direct oversight will align the present operation of these departments with the Riesbeck’s formats.
Riesbeck’s in their other store locations offer in-house pharmacy services. Customers of the New Martinsville pharmacy, located within the store will be pleased to know it will remain, providing the same quality service that customers have come to expect.
At first, customers will miss the Witschey name on the store front. But Riesbeck’s has a strong commitment to taking over that roll and becoming part of our community. Steve Riesbeck, “We are sincerely grateful for this opportunity, we won’t take it for granted. I keep saying it, there is so much common ground between the Witschey family and the Riesbeck family, we are looking forward to coming into the community.”
I am sure we all want to welcome the Riesbeck’s family and hope them well, now and into the future. As to the Witschey family, we thank you for your 76 years of unwavering commitment and service for our community.