VALENTINE, Neb. — Henderson's IGA here “hangs its hat” on its beef offering, Tim Henderson, the store's owner, told SN.
As well it should. The retailer, winner of IGA's 2008 International Retailer of the Year award, is located deep in cattle country in this northern Nebraska town, in a county where there are nearly 100 cattle per person.
“We draw from a 60-mile radius,” Henderson said. “Valentine has a population of 2,800, and we are the biggest town for 120 miles in any direction.”
The town happens to be located at an important crossroads, however — where U.S. Highway 20, which stretches across the country from east to west, bisects U.S. Highway 83, which connects Canada and Mexico from north to south.
Because of that, Henderson's IGA gets a lot of travelers through town and does a brisk business in local souvenirs, Henderson explained.
That's not why the store won the top honors at this year's IGA Global Summit, however.
“Tim Henderson's devotion to the IGA Alliance — and more importantly his customers and community — is legendary in the grocery world,” said Mark Batenic, chief executive officer, IGA USA, in a prepared statement. “In the 50 years that Henderson's IGA has been in business, the store and the Henderson family have become an integral part of the Valentine community.”
Henderson was selected from among two other USA Retailer of the Year finalists, Mike Carper, of Mick or Mack IGA, New Castle, Va.; and Gregory Lukeman, IGA Bohemia, Bohemia, N.Y. The other two international winners were David Scally, of Ballina Supa IGA, Ballina, Australia; and Edith Cox, of Graceway IGA, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.
Henderson said his local IGA competes with two other independently owned food stores in Valentine in part by emphasizing his beef offering. The stores offer only USDA Choice Angus beef, touted with the slogan, “Valentine's finest beef. You be the judge.”
The 22,500-square-foot store also has a chef who conducts in-store cooking lessons and demonstrations. Each year, just before Thanksgiving, the store hosts a wine-tasting and food-sampling program with stations set up around the store.
“We think it gives people ideas for the holidays,” Henderson said.
Other promotions include tent sales of produce, at which the store rolls out grills for a cookout.
The grills also come in handy for the store's many community-service activities, such as the town's annual citywide cleanup, when Valentine lets school out at noon on Friday and Henderson's IGA cooks lunch for students and volunteers.
“That's just one of the examples of the things we do with the community,” Henderson told SN.
According to IGA, Henderson has also participated in and developed programs in support of education, the Cherry County Hospital and local families in need.