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Fareway comes to Tiffin

Plans for store announced at city council meeting
Garrett Piklapp, Vice President, General Counsel at Fareway Stores Inc., addresses an enthusiastic Tiffin City Council on Dec. 5. If all goes to plan, the growing Tiffin community can expect a Fareway store to open in late 2018 or early 2019. (photo by Cale Stelken)

TIFFIN– About four years ago, the City of Tiffin conducted a survey asking for residents’ feedback. Among the top of their requests? A grocery store.
It appears residents of Tiffin have finally had their wish come true, this holiday season, as plans for a Fareway grocery store have been announced in their own backyard.
“We have property under contract in the Prairie Village Commercial Development for approximately three acres on the northwest corner—contemplated to construct a store in middle of 2018,” announced Garrett Piklapp, Vice President, General Counsel at Fareway Stores Inc.
Dapperly adorned in his distinctive bowtie and round spectacles, Piklapp addressed an eager Tiffin City Council on Dec. 5.
“Hopefully it all ends with a ribbon cutting in late ‘18 or early ‘19, depending on when we get started—spring or summer of ‘18,” Piklapp added. He also made sure to point out this is just one step on the path. “There’s a public process that’s going to follow, and these details will be vetted in that process.”
Mayor Berner offered some background on Tiffin’s gradual relationship with the grocery chain leading to the announcement.
“They invited us to go to a ribbon-cutting. It was a beautiful ceremony; we enjoyed it very much,” he recalled. “We knew Fareway was interested in Tiffin, especially when they invited us to another ribbon-cutting,” he said, referring to the new Peosta store. “So we were excited about it and that was now almost a year ago.”
Currently, the closest Fareway to Tiffin is located about 5.4 miles away at 615 Westwood Dr. in North Liberty. A Hy-Vee is also located about 4.5 miles away at 1914 8th St. in Coralville.
The Tiffin Fareway will be almost identical to the recently opened Peosta location, with a brick exterior and an elevated entrance. It will not have a bakery, however. Piklapp explained, “Fareway’s gotten smarter at how we distribute fresh-baked goods to stores and this store will be served with fresh-baked goods.”
In terms of square footage, Piklapp explained while previous estimates ranged between 12,000 and 18,000 as per a typical Fareway store size, newer estimations place it closer to 19,000 or 20,000 square feet.
“It’ll be a little bigger than what we’ve contemplated in the past, and that’s attributed to the great job that you all are doing,” he said “This town’s growing and we recognize that and we want to make sure it’s worth the property size.”“I for one am excited because one thing I’ve been worried about is getting activities for teenagers in the community—employment opportunities—which they will have with Faraway,” noted councilor Al Havens.
“There are lots of laws and reg(ulation)s that make it really difficult to employ minors, but we remain committed to doing just that,” assured Piklapp.
“We think that we teach them lots of life lessons, getting them in front of customers, getting them to show up to throw truck or getting them to stock shelves or to do whatever the laws allow them to do,” he continued. “And a really important part of our employee base is that 14- to 17-year old (age group), and we will certainly hire them here.”
Established in 1938, Fareway Grocery is a fourth generation, family-owned company based out of Boone. According to Piklapp, the chain covers five states and employs almost 11,000 people. In fact, Fareway opened its 120th location in Harrisburg, S.D. the day following the Tiffin City Council announcement.
“We’ve been working on this for a while, and it’s always fun when you get to the point in economic development where you can secure a business like this and secure something that you know is good for the entire community,” said City Administrator Doug Boldt. He described the seesaw nature leading to securing an agreement to construct of a Fareway store in Tiffin.
“We’ve been talking with them for some time. We thought we had something worked out a year-and-a-half or so ago, and that ended up falling through,” he recalled.
Boldt cited, “Some of the political atmosphere changed at the state level and doors opened up again and talks resumed a little bit more seriously and we were able to put something together.”
“When they invited us up to Peosta, we kind of knew we were back on their agenda,” he resolved.
“We’re really excited about what we’re doing; we’re really excited about what this city’s doing, and we think it’s a great marriage,” Piklapp summarized. 
The announcement was followed by applause and resounding enthusiasm from the City Hall attendees. Afterward, the council unanimously passed a resolution to move the project forward. Mayor Berner elaborated, he and Boldt will complete the development agreements to be handed off to the city council before construction plans are finalized.
Matt Adam, manager of the development company Tiffin Prairie Village Commercials, also addressed the council and confirmed his hope to have the site “shovel-ready” this spring for construction. When Adam offered to take questions, a jovial councilor Joan Kahler was quick to respond.
“Get it done as fast as you can!”