Hays Market wins retailer of the year; prepares for renovations and merger

Hays Market in Berthoud and Johnstown recently received the 2016 Retailer of the Year award. Brothers Ryan Hays, left, and Russell Hays received the award in Omaha, Nebr.

Hays Market in Berthoud and Johnstown recently received the 2016 Retailer of the Year award. Brothers Ryan Hays, left, and Russell Hays received the award in Omaha, Nebr.

By Katie Harris
The Surveyor

This year is shaping up to be a big year for Hays Market, the grocer that opened in Berthoud in 2001. Hays was recently awarded 2016 Retailer of the Year for a Wholesale Co-op by its parent co-op, Affiliated Foods Midwest. As one of 800 stores in the 13-state region considered for the award, it meant a lot to sibling owners Neal, Ryan and Russell Hays.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by your peers in the same industry,” said Neal. He said the recipient of the award was voted on by board members of Affiliated Foods Midwest and was based on growth, sales and initiative to reinvest.

Hays Market, which touts itself as “a convenient one-stop shop where you can find everything you need, from the everyday essentials to specialty items from around the world,” has been family owned since 1929 when the Hays brothers’ great-grandparents opened the first store in Johnstown.

The two locations have remained family-owned for four generations, with few changes along the way, until now. This year the Berthoud store is undergoing a remodel with new produce tables and coolers being added, in addition to the new floor that was installed last spring. “It was time to update some stuff,” said Neal.

Another big change for the local supermarket this year will come from the merge between Affiliated Foods Midwest and Associated Wholesale Grocers, which will take place on Oct. 22.

As a result of the merger, Hays Market becomes one of 3,000 stores serviced by the largest independent co-op in America.

“This is a strategic move by our warehouse to get better quality to all of our stores and to move to a higher playing field,” said Neal.

The most significant difference customers can expect to see after the merge will be a new store brand appearing on shelves over the next few months. Best Choice will replace Shurfine, the brand that’s been stocked at Hays for decades.

“The Shurfine brand and some of its subsidiaries will go away,” said Neal. “Prices won’t change, but the variety will be better.”

He said the Best Choice company offers an equivalent for all items currently carried at Hays. In addition, he expects produce quality to improve with the merger.

Neal said the changes that are in the works are all part of his and his brothers’ commitment to serving the community they do business in.

“This award is really a tribute to our employees and customers,” said Neal. “We really appreciate the support of the community.”