An independent grocery store is under new management after a Woodstock man purchased the business.

Armando Escutia bought Shop Fresh Market, 330 N. Eastwood Drive, in early September, less than a year and a half after the grocery store opened in May 2016. Before that, the space housed Wisted’s Supermarket.

“We knew it was going to be mission impossible,” Escutia said of turning around a store which had been rumored to be closing. But Escutia, who previously owned a grocery store in Joliet, said he was bored in semi-retirement and believes he’s up to the challenge of making the business work.

Escutia said his store is different from big-box retailers who offer everything under the sun, and he likes it that way. He hopes customers come to see Shop Fresh as a smaller, more convenient alternative to chain stores, offering all the staples plus a few specialties.

“We’re more like a convenience store,” Escutia said. “Our niche is fresh produce.”

In addition to fruits and veggies, Shop Fresh highlights its Hispanic offerings as well as meat and hot food, including tamales and soup.

“We’re trying to bring more and more and more so that we can serve the community. That’s our goal, to serve the community,” Escutia said. “I know the Hispanic community is being underserved in Woodstock. … We’re trying to find a balance between the American and the Hispanic.”

Meat department manaager Shawn Wade organizes cuts at Shop Fresh Market. | Independent Photo by Whitney Rupp

Shawn Wade, one of the store’s 15 employees, is Shop Fresh’s meat department manager. He has 23 years of experience as a butcher and said he likes that his department cuts all of its meat on-site.

“Everything is cut in-store,” Wade said. “We carry everything, all the basic cuts.”

Escutia said he thinks Shop Fresh is set up to succeed.

“I knew we were going to have to put in a lot of work,” he said. “Our goal is to have the store thrive, and not within a year. We’re talking six months. We’re moving toward that point.”

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