CHIPPEWA FALLS — Ronda Elsenpeter watched the auction results Thursday at the former Gordy’s Market at Chippewa Falls Commons mall, waiting her turn to bid on items. Elsenpeter was bidding on behalf of Durand Smokehouse, which was interested in some of the meat-cutting tools in the closed grocery store.
“We’re just looking at some equipment — maybe some freezers,” Elsenpeter said.
Elsenpeter was impressed with the array of items — from shelves to coolers — that were among the 600 lots entered in the auction. About 200 people attended the daylong auction at the store.
“I’ve been to a lot of auctions, and this stuff is in really good shape,” Elsenpeter said. “We follow Grafe auctions all over the Cities. This happened to be in our backyard, so we had to check it out.”
Elsenpeter said she expected the big marquee items to be sold at close to market price, noting it was a good crowd on hand.
Rusty Volk, Northern Wisconsin State Fair director, was among the locals who watched the auction. Volk said he was there to bid on everything from carts and garbage cans to bug lights and pallet jacks.
“I’m looking at a number of things for the fairgrounds,” Volk said. “It’s odds and ends. I was looking at the walk-in coolers, but they won’t work for what we need.”
Volk said he was impressed with the quality of what was available.
“Everything is in excellent shape,” Volk said. “I invited the food vendors (who come to the fair) to look at what they have, to update their own equipment, like the stainless steel counters.”
Joann Burt of Eyota, Minn., who owns Burt’s Meats & Poultry, bid on numerous items at the auction.
“We have a meat locker, and we are looking at what we can use,” Burt said. “They have a nice variety of stuff for people who are just starting out or for people who need some more equipment.”
Burt wound up buying a scale in the produce section — something that wasn’t on her radar when she walked in the door.
“There is always something you find when you come here you can use,” she said.
Bethany Ahnen, co-owner of Gal’s Longbranch & Brock’s Butcher Block in Cataract, near Sparta, learned about the auction online. She attended to bid on the meat racks and roasters.
“It looks pretty good,” Ahnen said.
Faith Lamon of Melrose attended the auction with her grandfather, who owns Davis Furniture Store near Black River Falls.
“There is a lot of really nice stuff,” Lamon said. “(My grandfather) is looking at opening a bulk food store, so we’re seeing what there is. There is a lot more people here than I expected.”
Gordy’s Market had 26 stores across western Wisconsin at midsummer but is now down to six, with the others having been sold or closed. Grafe Auction, based in Spring Valley, Minn., was hired to conduct the auction for just the Chippewa Falls Commons location.
The ad on the company’s website says the building is “filled with quality food service equipment. The majority of the equipment was new in 2005 and a large portion of it was updated in 2014. You will find departments full of well-maintained prep equipment including meat, bakery, deli and produce equipment. Plus, you will find excellent store shelving and material handling equipment.”
Gordy’s Market acquired the aging 169,000-square-foot mall, located at 303 E. Prairie View Road, from Michigan-based Agree Realty Corp. in December 2014. The Schafer family, which owns all the Gordy’s locations, invested about $3 million into renovating and reopening a grocery store that was between 25,000 and 30,000 square feet in size and buying new equipment.
The Gordy’s grocery at the mall opened in summer 2015 after a significant face-lift and renovation. It replaced the 45,592-square-foot Mega Foods that closed in March 2012.
The company also went to work on refurbishing the mall and lining up new tenants.
In January 2015, the city approved creating a tax-increment financing district to assist Gordy’s in their acquisition and renovation of the mall.
The building was slated to be sold to Hilco Global, but the Illinois-based company backed out in January. At this time there are no buyers publicly pursuing purchase of the store.