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RapidChat: Alan Hartline

After being family-owned and -operated for 70-pus years, Kingma's Market took on new ownership back in early 2015. With a year now under his belt, new owner Alan Hartline has successfully maintained the market's esteem. While he knows the love for the Market runs deep within the Creston and Cheshire neighborhoods, Hartline is looking to expand that passion to downtown residents and beyond.
 
Alan Hartline

After being family-owned and -operated for 70-plus years, Kingma's Market took on new ownership back in early 2015. With a year now under his belt, new owner Alan Hartline has successfully maintained the market's esteem. While he knows the love for the Market runs deep within the Creston and Cheshire neighborhoods, Hartline is looking to expand that passion to downtown residents and beyond.
 
Rapid Growth: How long has it been since you first started transitioning Kingma’s Market into your ownership and management? 
 
Alan Hartline: It all started back in January 2015.
 
RG: With the buyout, the Kingmas' had three major rules: Don't open the store on Sundays, keep the meat counter, and don't change the staffing. Is that something you’ve been able to keep up? Have you been able to abide by them?
 
AH:  Yes. This was easy. The culture and the team are a big part of the great neighborhood shopping experience. The meat department and being closed on Sundays continues as well.
 
RG: What were you doing prior to this?
 
AH:  I was with Spartan Stores for 10 years, with my last role being EVP of Merchandising & Marketing. In 2014 I commuted back and forth to Chicago with my role as Divisional VP Merchandising for 1,000 Kmart stores.
 
RG: What brought you to make such a vast transition in your career?
 
AH: Well, I am still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I consider myself opportunistic and like to fix or create solutions. Kingma’s Market is a community treasure but needs to revamp the brand position and align the merchandising and marketing to meet the needs of today’s consumer preferences.
 
RG: Everyone talks about a downtown grocer, and when we are getting one. How do you think Kingma’s Market can help fill this void?
 
AH: It's not if, but when. A market will be downtown once more of the residential plans take hold. In the near term, Kingma's Market is just five or so minutes away and is very accessible to the downtown consumer. 
 
RG: We have the Downtown Market, which is currently the closest option for downtown Grand Rapids residents. Why do you think people don’t see it as sufficient enough?
 
AH:  Although the market offers some fun products and categories, the overall offer cannot meet the needs of today’s consumer.
 
RG: What are your thoughts on grocery delivery services?
 
AH:  It is not part of the near term priorities but the viability may be accessed in the back half of 2016.
 
RG: With Creston being an on-the-rise community, do you think it give’s Kingma’s Market any sort of competitive advantage?

AH: Kingma's is well positioned to participate in the growth and positive evolution of the community. We will continue to evolve our offerings to meet the needs of today's consumer with a local flavor focus.
 
RG: Will we be seeing additional locations popping up anytime soon?
 
AH:  We hope so. A new prototype has been established and we are carefully reviewing strategic locations. We have to make sure that the location can be a win/win.

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.
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