By Pamela Rensing
MASCOUTAH – In December 2021, fear that Mascoutah might lose its only grocery store swept through the community. Norrenberns Foods, Inc. had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to legal issues with the grocers union’s former pension fund.
But at the time, owner Don Norrenberns told residents not to worry. He explained that Chapter 11 bankruptcy did not mean the company would go bankrupt. This meant that organizational changes would take place, including a possible new owner.
This day has arrived.
What began in Albers as a small butcher’s shop in 1930 sparked the start of an extremely strong family legacy in the supermarket that will now continue into the future. Craig Norrenberns, grandson of Tom and Betty Norrenberns, is gearing up to bring the company into its fourth generation with extraordinary plans for Mascoutah.
Craig currently operates two markets owned by his father, TJ Norrenberns, located in Millstadt and Red Bud.
Tom’s Supermarket will also have a new name. The name change is a secret for now, but will be revealed at the Mascoutah Homecoming Parade on August 6. Tom’s has always been famous for its creative runway appearances, and this one just might top the list.
According to Craig, the store will have more than a brand new look. He plans to change and expand the store with major renovations starting as soon as possible, although completion will take some time. Specialized equipment, such as new chillers and freezers, have a long lead time and will take months to arrive. Norrenberns is assisting the Stars R Us Dance Studio, which occupied the space next to Tom’s, with a new location. “We help with the rent and work closely with them until they find new accommodation.”
It is hoped that the extensive remodeling will be completed by spring 2023, when a grand reopening will be expected. In the meantime, the store will remain open throughout the project.
“I want people to be ready for the big things to come,” Craig said. “We have some truly amazing and unique things planned for the store, and we’re excited to share more plans and design work soon.”
With the planned expansion, shoppers will be amazed to see the fresh produce, deli and fresh meat areas double in size and variety. Frozen foods will double due to equipment additions. Tom’s Catering will remain and expand to a larger kitchen.
He said all current employees will remain with store manager Mike Klein leading the team. Klein is also president of the Mascoutah Chamber of Commerce.
Craig sincerely thanks the community for their continued support. “Without people buying locally, this family heirloom wouldn’t be possible,” Craig said. “We expect to win back many customers who may have chosen to shop out of town.”
From March 1978, when Tom Norrenberns bought Tom Boy’s Market on Church Street, until they moved to their current location on Mascoutah Plaza Drive in November 1983, Tom’s Supermarket has always been an integral part of the business community in Mascoutah.
Craig said he was grateful to be part of this project. “There was a time when we feared that Mascoutah might completely lose its grocery store. Keeping this business in the family for four generations is an incredible blessing and I hope to run it well until the next generation can take over.
“It’s a family business and we work together to keep it strong and healthy. Mascoutah deserves a great place to shop.”