Zup’s plans to purchase Ely Northland Market

Ely’s two major grocers have come together on a deal that will eventually result in one grocery store in town - in the now vacant Shopko building.
Zup’s Food Market and Ely Northland Market announced the partnership Wednesday night.
Zup’s will purchase Ely Northland Market in early-2021 and both stores will continue to operate as they currently have been until later in the year, when the 32,000 square foot Shopko building becomes the new home to Zup’s and Ely Northland Market.
Once the purchase is final, employees from both stores will work together as one big group.
“It makes perfect sense,” said Donna Richards, who along with her husband Jim will sell ENM after purchasing it in 2003. “The best of both stores are moving into one.”
“We’re very excited about it,” added Jim Zupancich Jr. “As a family, we’re excited and our employees are excited as well.”
Just a week earlier, Zup’s announced the purchase of the Shopko building and its plans to move to the east end of town.
The purchase of ENM, which had been in the talking stages for nearly two years, will trigger a nearly yearlong effort to merge two stores into one.
Plans call for both stores to operate through the busy summer season, with Zup’s eyeing a September opening date at the Shopko facility.
Customers of ENM will notice few changes in 2021, according to Richards and Zupancich, and product lines popular at ENM - including specialty items and sausages from its meat department - will move to the new store.
Both Zup’s and ENM purchase from separate grocery warehouses and that will continue.
“There may be some ways to save money that will reduce costs for the company and therefore we can probably reduce our prices as well,” said Zupancich. “There’s really not going to be any changes until we move into Shopko together. We’re going to have the best of both worlds.”
Zup’s has about 50 employees while ENM has a staff of about 30, and the crews will mesh into one unit.
“Once we get this new store together it will be the employees from Northland Market and our employees and we will work together as one big group,” said Zupancich. “We want to keep everything and if we can better it in any way we’re going to do it.”
Once the grocery operations consolidate in one location, Richards said that customers who enjoy products from both stores will “now have that shopping experience all in one. It’s a win-win really.”
While ENM will fall under the Zup’s umbrella, the Richards will retain their popular “JR’s Beef” business.
Zupancich Brothers Inc. owns stores in Ely, Babbitt, Tower, Silver Bay and Cook.
In announcing the purchase of the Shopko building, Zup’s will nearly double its square footage and is exploring options in addition to groceries for that space, including dry goods as well as a potential pharmacy operation.
Both grocers acknowledged the loyalty and support of Ely area customers, allowing both stores to thrive in a competitive marketplace.
Zupancich said, “The community has supported Zup’s and Northland and we’re very grateful for that. I think this move will help this community because we’re going to be able to provide increase variety and lower prices.”
Both the current Zup’s store, built in 1983, as well as the ENM building - once known as Joe’s IGA - will go on the market.