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Dishmans follow dream to supermarket ownership
March 09, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen
Fresh Foods operator Ben Dishman displays his pride in ownership. Having his own grocery store has long been his dream.

It took years of dreaming and determination, but Ben and Kerri Dishman are now realizing that dream – owning their own supermarket.

Ben was born and raised in North Platte, where he started his career in the supermarket industry. “I started as a bagger when I was 16 years old,” he said. “I worked my way up from there to become a stocker and then night crew chief.”

Following the night shift, he moved up to the supermarket’s frozen dairy manager, second and first assistant managers before being promoted to store director.

“When I was 30, I was approached by Nash-Finch about running their store in Ogallala,” Ben said. “I did that for about six years.”
About three or four years ago, Ben received some information by mail asking if he’d be interested in opening a store in Gering.

“I’d always wanted to run my own business, but I just didn’t know enough about it at the time so that idea didn’t happen,” he said. “Then a friend called and asked if I’d like to join him on the Gering project.”

So Ben and his partner went through the long process of developing a proposal for the Gering supermarket. But a number of glitches with the paperwork in the late stages caused that proposal to fall through.

“I’d given up on pursuing a supermarket in Gering when I got a call from Josh Berger with Woodbury Corporation in Lincoln,” he said. “We met at Wendy’s to discuss the idea and I realized it could work.”
Ben said when he was younger, he wanted to be a physician or an accountant, but he’s always been in the grocery business.

“I love running a business and the administration part of it,” he said. “I’ve been in the grocery business more than I haven’t, so it’s kind of in my blood.”

Ben said the supermarket will be a full service grocer, offering all the regular departments – frozen, dairy, meat and produce and a small bakery. And because it’s an independent store, they can offer shelf space for products made by local food producers.

“We won’t be the biggest store around, but we want to be everybody’s favorite store,” Ben said. “We want to sell people on service and our meat and produce departments. We really want this to be Gering’s store.”

Ben said he’s heard all the reasons why the former Sun Mart supermarket closed, from poor management and overall store conditions. “We don’t want that to be the case for us. This will be a well-managed and efficient store.”

Ben and Kerri plan to get involved in the community and have a good working relationship with everyone. “People have been so welcoming to us,” he said. “Many people have told us they’ll support us, so I also think this is a loyal community.”

Ben still has a few surprises ahead – like a new concept with the deli. The only details he’d give is that people will be impressed.
“Our name is Fresh Foods,” he said. “We want to be fresh. We want people to walk in thinking they’ll get fresh products and good service from us. We’ve built our store around that.”

Fresh Foods will be open for business on March 8 with an official grand opening planned at a later date.
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