Full cart: Three-generation business starts work on store No. 7

TRAVERSE CITY – Tom's Food Market has been in the Grand Traverse area for more than 60 years – and with nearly every family member involved in the business, and another Tom's on the horizon, it's likely to stick around at least that much longer.

Tom's has broken ground on its seventh store in Interlochen Corners. The site, at U.S. 31 and M-137, is under construction and scheduled to open in spring 2009. The 38 1/2-acre Interlochen property will be named Interlochen Market Place and will house the 40,000 square-foot grocery store, along with many more retail stores and offices.

"We purchased the property in 1990 with the foresight that our community was expanding, and the Interlochen area, in particular, was going to grow," explains CEO Dan Deering.

Residents will surely be a mixed bag of those not wanting to see vacant land filled with another set of buildings, and those lured to a new, large marketplace.

"I'm looking forward to buying specialized foods from a store in Interlochen, rather than having to head into Traverse City," says longtime Interlochen resident Dawn Bousamra.

Ric's Food Center is located in Interlochen, nearly across the street from the new Tom's site. It has added approximately 1,200 new items during the past year, including organic and whole wheat items, and has expanded its produce, bakery, deli and wine selections, said Store Director Bruce Hanson.

Founder celebration

Tom Deering was born in Empire on October 5, 1908, a son of Mark Deering (1873-1974), who owned meat markets in Elk Rapids and Empire. Tom got involved in his dad's business after high school, and then decided to go into the grocery business on his own. (Mark retired on his 100th birthday, and the market in Empire is still owned by Phil Deering, whose father Mark – at 92 – works there daily.)

Tom passed away in 1967, just before the grand opening of the 14th Street Tom's. Says Dan, "I believe my father would be proud of how his vision has carried on. My father and mother started this business in a small market with the idea of delivering excellent service and emphasis placed on quality and a fair price."

To celebrate what would have been Tom Deering's 100th birthday, a month of celebration, specials and giveaways is planned at all Tom's Market locations throughout October.

For locations and contact information, visit www.toms-foodmarkets.com.