Although its name is just two years old, Webster’s Marketplace has been well-established in Ripon for three decades. Opened by Rob and Kathy Webster in 1989, the former Pick ‘n Save store is now owned and operated by their daughter, Candie Baker.
Rob and Kathy’s grocery beginnings started when they bought a supermarket in Spencer, Wisconsin, the year Candie was born (1978). Growing up in the business, Candie bagged groceries, cleaned bathrooms, and later worked summers in the bakery while in college.
In 1987, the Websters purchased the Shop-Rite supermarket in Ripon. In 1989, they opened Pick ‘n Save, which was expanded and modernized in 2005. Roundy’s Supermarkets, Inc. eventually acquired all the Pick ‘n Saves except for Ripon’s. The store remained independent while carrying the Pick ‘n Save name. When Kroger bought Roundy’s in 2015, the Ripon store started in a new direction, sourcing its products from SuperValu. In 2015, major renovations at the store included the addition of a 15th grocery aisle. The following year, the store changed its name to Webster’s Marketplace.
On being an independent grocer, Candie says, “I like the freedom we have to make our own choices in products and services for our guests. If a local company wants to see their products here, we can make that choice quickly and do not have to wait for permission from someone or somewhere else. One example is our recent partnership with Water Works Bath Co. [of Ripon], makers of great bath bombs, soaps, and shower steamers. Back Porch Gatherings [of Ripon] helped design and execute a unique bathtub display for them.”
The store is open and responsive to guest requests. “Our guests benefit from our flexibility to bring in products per request and not because some other store in a chain is selling or not selling that item,” Candie says.
Signature items made on location that make the store unique include breads, cakes, and donuts; homemade deli dips, sandwiches, salads, and pizzas; and broasted chicken. Brats, sausages, and snack sticks are cured at their in-store smokehouse.
Webster’s takes their role in the community seriously. They believe that the community is here to support them and they are here to support the community. Webster’s has a strong presence at local events and a history of giving back—their foundation has given more than $1 million in community grants, matching funds, and scholarships.
Fun is an important part of the business too, from Saturday Surprise Specials announced on Facebook to Kid’s Sunday Fun Days in-store activities to a free piece of fruit for shoppers under 12. Last year, they introduced a store mascot, Webbie the Duck—a mallard named after Candie’s grandfather, Robert Webster III.
A great grocer needs a great team, and Candie says her team is second to none and not easily replaced. “Our team members live our mission daily: To WOW our guests and associates with enthusiasm and willingness to serve,” she says. Webster’s was named 2019 Ripon Business of the Year by Ripon’s Chamber of Commerce.
The best part of Candie’s job? “Helping people. From helping and serving our guests here at Webster’s to helping our community through volunteering or donating to helping grow members of our team from their first job experience to expanding their career in the industry, the grocery business is all about people, and I love that!”
Webster’s Marketplace, located at 1188 W. Fond du Lac Street in Ripon, is open seven days a week from 5:00 a.m. to midnight. And check out their new online ordering system, Webster’s Express, as an option for ordering groceries for pick up or delivery.
Jean Cornelius is a freelance writer.