New Owners, New Vision

Wohlner's New Owners, New Vision

Bob and Dianne Kimball have been partners in life for almost 40 years – and partners in business since April. That’s when they purchased Wohlner’s Neighborhood Grocery & Deli from third generation owner Mike Schwartz, continuing a tradition of family ownership that dates back to 1918. 

“Grocery has always been in my blood. It’s just something that I always enjoyed doing,” Bob said. “Throughout the course of my tenure with numerous chains, I always, in the back of my mind, thought about owning my own store. When this opportunity presented itself, it was an absolute perfect fit for us.”

Prior to the purchase and Mike’s retirement, Bob served as Wohlner’s general manager for four years, and has more than 40 years in the grocery business. The Kimballs have wasted no time implementing their ideas for store enhancements. They’ve already invested in new air handler units for a more pleasant shopping experience and reset the store’s extensive wine, liquor and beer selection.

“When we took over, we noticed there were quite a few wines that just weren’t moving. We discontinued 75-80 varietals of wine and some liquors. We partnered with one of our local wine and liquor vendors. They made some suggestions, and we brought in 75-80 new varietals.”

Near-term plans also include the launch of an online shopping platform with citywide delivery later this fall, a wider selection of vegan and plant-based items, and a front of the store remodel that enhances shop-ability and showcases Wohlner’s vibrant produce selection. 

Wohlner's Pop Aisle

“We’re going to wow our customers with our variety of fresh, grab-and-go produce,” Bob said.

Phase II and III plans include an investment in new technology, including updated point of sale (POS) software, check stands and registers.

“When I get something in my mind, I like to go with and get it done soon,” Bob said. “I like to plan my work and work my plan” – pivoting, when necessary, in the face of the unexpected.

The Kimballs assumed ownership of Wohlner’s at the height of COVID-19’s first wave. They worked closely with local suppliers to keep the shelves and meat cases stocked, enhanced cleaning protocols, implemented employee mask mandates, and marked the floor to encourage social distancing. 

“We took the ball and ran with it on the fly,” Bob said. “It was quite the task.”

To reward associates for their work during the pandemic, the Kimballs gave out COVID bonuses. To show their appreciation in general, they treat employees to a “family lunch” on Fridays and are working with a partner to establish a 401K program. 

“We can help them invest in themselves with employer contributions,” Bob said. “We have a fantastic crew. The more we invest in our associates, the more they are going to enjoy coming to work and giving that signature Wohlner’s customer interaction.”

“Our excellent customer service will always be first and foremost along with our cleanliness and the eclectic way we carry ourselves in business throughout the day,” Bob said. “We will continue to build upon the Wohlner’s tradition of fine wines and cheese and a meat department that offers nothing but USDA choice and above.”

Wohlner's Meat Counter

The new owners of Omaha’s oldest grocery store are excited about the future.

“We’re in it for the long haul,” Bob said. “We’re excited to continue the tradition of locally owned, family owned and Wohlner’s tradition of community involvement – anything that helps our community and serves our customers. … We are local; we support local; and we’re excited to put a new spin on the store, to build on the great things that were offered before and offer even more.”

Bob and Dianne Kimball – both born and raised in Fremont, Neb. – have been married for 38 years and have lived in Omaha for the last two decades. The high school sweethearts have four children (three sons and a daughter) and two grandchildren.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the new owners of Wohlner’s?
Bob and Dianne Kimball purchased Wohlner’s Neighborhood Grocery & Deli in April from third generation owner Mike Schwartz, continuing a tradition of family ownership that dates back to 1918. 

“Throughout the course of my tenure with numerous chains, I always, in the back of my mind, thought about owning my own store,” Bob said. “When this opportunity presented itself, it was an absolute perfect fit for us.”

Prior to the purchase and Mike’s retirement, Bob served as Wohlner’s general manager for four years, and has more than 40 years in the grocery business. The Kimballs – both born and raised in Fremont, Neb. – have been married for 38 years and have lived in Omaha for the last two decades. They have four children (three sons and a daughter) and two grandchildren.

What are the store hours?
Monday – Friday: 7 am - 9 pm
Saturday: 7 am - 7:30 pm
Sunday: 8 am - 7:30 pm

How are the new owners enhancing the customer experience?
New Wohlner’s owners Bob and Dianne Kimball are phasing in a slate of customer-focused changes, including:

  • Enhanced wine, liquor and beer selection
  • Front of store remodel
  • Wider selection of vegan and plant-based items
  • Launch of an online shopping platform with citywide delivery (coming soon!)
  • Addition of dry-aged beef to its selection of USDA-choice meats

What can customers expect?
Wohlner’s has been family-owned and focused on exceptional service since day one – and that’s not changing. 

From our excellent meat cutters to our personable cashiers, you can always count on unmatched, five-star service. Quality and variety also come standard. We offer an award-winning meat counter; full selection of affordably-priced groceries; the freshest produce; and unique, hard-to-come-by products – from rich, sophisticated wines and deliciously home-made artisan bread to Wohlner’s private label coffee, entrees, salads and salsas.

How is Wohlner’s responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Wohlner’s is receiving regular, ongoing shipments and stocking essential food items and products. 

In an ongoing effort to keep customers healthy, Wohlner’s is committed to increased safety protocols including:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces throughout the store including grocery carts, pin pads, counters, handrails
  • Installing plexiglass barriers between cashiers and customers at checkout stations
  • Regular, appropriate usage of masks and gloves
  • Enforcing social distancing guidelines
  • Maintaining regular hours of operation
  • Staff adjustments for restocking of shelves, sanitizing
  • Ongoing training and employee communication

Will Wohlner’s be offering Holiday Meat Collections this year?
Yes! Wohlner’s is offering five categories of Holiday Meat Collections: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Griller, ranging in price from $169.99 to $79.99 + free shipping. 

The packages are stocked with a selection of USDA Choice meats and locally-sourced products, including gourmet cheeses, Wohlner’s signature coffee, L Francis Caramels and Baker’s Melt Away Chocolates. 

For more information, click here. To place an order, email bob@wohlners.com or call (402)-504-1025. 

 

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