Gene Schneeberger finds grocery heaven in Elbow Lake

Gene Schneeberger, Jim's Market, Elbow Lake

Back in 2015, Gene Schneeberger left 25 years of corporate grocery management to manage Jim’s Market, the Elbow Lake grocery store.  Small town grocer vs corporate chain? Getting dozens of pallets of product daily to maybe two? Dozens of employees to a handful?

At the end of the day, Gene says, it’s still a people business. “It was quite a culture change for me,” he laughs, “but I have no regrets. It feels like home here.”

Born in Elbow Lake, Gene’s family later moved to Fergus Falls where he graduated from both the local high school and community college, and got his first grocery job downtown as a grocery bagger.  Later, as a business major at Minnesota State University—Moorhead, his passion for the grocery business bloomed and he’s never looked back. In fact, he’s worn almost every grocery hat imaginable: bagger, checker, stocker, produce manager, customer service manager. All of which helps in overall management, he notes.

In the back of his mind, was there ever a chance to move back to his birthplace? “Timing was everything. I was tired of corporate life, the big town, and when the opportunity came to help manage Jim’s Market, it was an easy move.”

So Gene, Live Wide Open. Your take?  “To me, it means living the way I want to live,” Gene said. “It’s living the way I want to project myself to the community because you are living openly with the trust of the community.

“People are community-based here,” he continues. “That’s important because you don’t find grocery stores in town this size much anymore. For our size, we have a good selection of products and that’s because people support their grocery store. We draw people from all over the county. It’s just a nice atmosphere.”

Steve Henning