WinCo Foods will open its first two grocery stores in Montana next month, with grand openings planned for March 3 in the cities of Helena and Billings, according to the Helena Independent Record.
Montana will be the tenth state where employee-owned WinCo operates, with more than 120 stores throughout the western U.S. Each location in Montana will feature produce, meat and deli departments, an in-store bakery and a wide range of grocery items.
- The Helena store will be around 84,000 square feet and will employ more than 150 people in part-time and full-time roles. The Billings location will be similar in size and will fill a space previously occupied by Kmart, which WinCo demolished and rebuilt, the Billings Gazette reported. The store will have about 160 employees.
WinCo, which is headquartered in Boise, Idaho, sees notable demand in Big Sky Country for its large stores and low prices. In addition to the two locations opening next month, the chain has gotten the green-light for a store in Bozeman following two years of negotiations with city officials and protests from union members, though a timeline for construction and opening has not been set, a WinCo spokesman told local media.
The expansion of WinCo has been steady over the past several years as the brand has spread from Idaho to California to Texas, opening a few stores each year. It is best known for its competitive low prices, which attract customers who don’t mind a no-frills experience that requires them to bag their own groceries. Winco has its own private label products and a large, bargain-priced bulk foods section, as well as name brands, organic products and fresh meat and seafood.
Even with Montana’s low unemployment rate, WinCo reported a strong response to its hiring efforts in the state. The company offers employees an ownership stake in the company, with an annual stock allotment given out based on their pay. After six years, employees' stock is fully vested.
Because the store is employee-owned, the company may not have the massive corporate support system that would allow it to expand more widely and rapidly. If WinCo did have a larger presence, it would certainly be a threat to price leaders and discount grocers like Aldi and even Walmart or Costco.