Family-Owned Busch’s is All About Community


Photo by Quaila Riddle

Busch’s Fresh Food Market in Dexter cut the ribbon on its grand reopening. The celebration comes after the completion of the store’s $3 million renovation.

“I want to thank you again for being such a big part of Dexter,” said Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce President Becky Cobler. “When I walk through the store, I see how everyone is completely engaged, not just with their departments, but eyes open looking around, greeting customers, making sure this place is perfect.”

Photo by Doug Marrin

Busch’s arrived in Dexter in the late 1990s when they bought the IGA grocery store, which is not the Cottage Inn plaza. Some ten years later, they built their current location on Ann Arbor Rd. From the beginning, Busch’s involved itself with the community, a philosophy that has grown from its roots.

Busch’s started in 1975 when Joe Busch and Charlie Mattis acquired two stores in Clinton and Saline, naming them J&C Family Foods. When Joe retired in 1986, his sons, Doug, John, and Tim, took over and grew Busch’s to 16 stores today.

“We grew up in rural communities where the grocery store was the center of the community,” said Doug Busch in a phone call. “As we’ve grown in Ann Arbor, Dexter, and places like that, we’ve continued with that philosophy of getting intricately involved. Giving back is a big part of our business.”

Photo by Doug Marrin

Busch’s conducts two big food drives, and two milk drives a year to support area food pantries. In Dexter, Busch’s partners with Food Gatherers, who also supports area pantries such as Faith in Action. The company, as a whole, sponsors more than 400 events annually. Their logo or fare can often be found at events.

“We also do what’s called Cash for Education, where school groups can sign up, and a percentage of what they spend at the store goes back to them for their cause,” explained Busch.

“Dexter is the community that earns the most money from Cash for Education out of all sixteen stores,” he adds. “They do a great job at the middle school. The middle school has it really organized, and I believe they use those funds to go on their trip to DC if I recall correctly.”

Other community groups are supported through Busch’s “My Way” program, where shoppers can choose to have a percentage of their grocery bill go to local non-profits.

Busch points to the associates the company has had over the years as a key to the chain’s success.

Photo by Doug Marrin

“They’re not just employees, they’re associates,” said Busch. “They are part of our team and always have been. Nowadays, the hardest thing in business is getting good associates, but we’ve been blessed. We’ve had some great associates over the years to help us get where we’re at.”

When asked how Busch’s has flourished in an area with much bigger competitors, Busch again points to the community aspect.

“We believe our customers see that we are family owned and think of us as part of the community,” he said. “Shopping here means helping out the community because we’re giving back. That seems to be important to the customers who shop with us.”

But Busch’s smaller size compared to its competitors also is an advantage.

“Nowadays, people take stock in what they’re buying,” said Busch. “We have local Michigan products. We buy our produce from area markets. Those big corporations can’t because they need more product from further away to fill their warehouses.”

“We can get better offerings because we can react and change quicker to our community needs than our competitors,” he added. “Our stores have the autonomy necessary to change as needed. If someone’s looking for something a little bit better, we believe they’re going to be shopping with us.”

In her intro for the ribbon cutting, Cobler summed it up as, “A lot of stores talk about family and community. This store is the personification of that. Busch’s is a huge asset to the City of Dexter.”

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