Episode 73

Published on:

28th Mar 2023

The New Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly with Aaron Laatsch

This week on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz, I sit down with Aaron Laatsch, the new owner of Geidel's Piggly Wiggly in Kewaskum—now rebranded as Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly. Aaron shares his journey into the world of groceries and discusses the driving factors behind his decision to purchase the store from Mike Geidel. Get an exclusive peek into what customers can look forward to at Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly. It's a fun and engaging conversation about the transformation of this local gem.

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Fuzz Martin 0:00

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Fuzz Martin 0:39

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Fuzz Martin 1:05

Alright, let's get into it. I'm sure you've heard the news but if not Aaron Laatsch recently purchased Geidel's Piggly Wiggly in Kewaskum This store is now called Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly. Aaron is with me this week to talk about how we got to start in the grocery biz. What made him take the leap to purchase the store and what you can expect that the all-new Laatch's Piggly Wiggly in the future with that, here are 15 minutes on the all-new Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly with Aaron Laatsch on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

Fuzz Martin 1:44

So Aaron, give us a scoop on how you went from working at Geidel's Piggly Wiggly in in Kewaskum to becoming the proud new owner of Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly.

Aaron Laatsch 1:53

Yeah, so I started back in:

Fuzz Martin 2:24

So many kids in our area, start working at Piggly Wiggly, you know run a checkout or they are bag person or stalking and all that stuff. What did you What was your first role when you came in?

Aaron Laatsch 2:36

As a kid? I was a big boy and a stalker. So back back then as a kid, we we played football, we played basketball. We played baseball after practice. You went and stock shelves from six to nine at night. And that's what you did? Yeah.

Fuzz Martin 2:50

Did you ever think when you're 16 like this, I'm I'm going to not only do this for the rest of my life, but I'm going to own this place someday.

Aaron Laatsch 2:57

I did not know I went and picked up my $30 Check each week and blew it all by Sunday. And I it's really hard to believe actually, when you were that age,

Fuzz Martin 3:07

what did you think you're going to be doing?

Aaron Laatsch 3:09

nt of building a new store in:

Fuzz Martin 3:39

where was the store before that?

Aaron Laatsch 3:42


Fuzz Martin 3:57

Gotcha. And before that it was in the old and it was in the Annex.

Aaron Laatsch 4:01

andfather built that store in:

Fuzz Martin 4:11

, I moved to West Bend and in:

Aaron Laatsch 4:27

The number one spark I guess would be my coworkers. We have a great team of people they're all our managers are there between 25, 23 and 25-35 years and Without them none of it would have been possible i Their co workers to meet that they're not employees.

Fuzz Martin 4:47

Do you have any fun or heartwarming stories about your days working at Piggly Wiggly before you took over the reins?

Aaron Laatsch 4:55

n the business from about the:

Fuzz Martin 5:24

Excellent. So how do you plan to honor the Geidel's Piggly Wiggly legacy who else adding your own touch to the store?

Aaron Laatsch 5:32

You know, we over the years, Mike Geidel and our whole team have done such a great job being involved. We just hope to carry on that same tradition. Last fall when I was working on our book in Kewaskum, my talk to Jim Reigel he's second generation owner of Regal Ware in his 90s and he said his father J.L. Reigel, live by these words and that serve your coworkers and employees, serve your community and keep modernizing your business and that I have that written up on the wall in front of my office and I live by those words

Fuzz Martin 6:05

Like your own "Believe" sign Correct. Exactly. That's excellent. What makes Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly stand out as a one of a kind grocery store in Washington County? What do you what do you think is your secret sauce?

Aaron Laatsch 6:17

You know, so within seven to 10 miles of our store, we have a couple piggly Wigglies. We have couple pickin saves Meijer, Walmart. All these Sendik's. You know, when I look at our staff, our store, we have a nice sized store to offer the community we have convenient in and out right on 45. We have great customer service and a very, very experienced staff and seeing those familiar faces come in we've, we've hired second and third generation customers. We have second and third generation and even fourth generation customers. And when I hear someone say, Oh my My dad used to shop on the store and I came in, you know, when I was a little girl on Main Street or when we hire someone we know when someone has an event in their family. And it's just fun to be a part of the community. And we hope to just keep that rolling.

Fuzz Martin 7:05

Sure. And you guys do a lot with nonprofits and such you guys have a broad fry pretty much for like April through October.

Aaron Laatsch 7:12

We do Yeah, yeah, we this year. I think we're hosting 22 dates, we had about 35-40 requests. And you know these Brad fries are just a great way for us to be involved in the Community Give Back and for our customers to be able to support these local organizations.

Fuzz Martin 7:27

Yeah, well as a leader in some of the local organizations that have had brat frys there. We appreciate that and it's good access to just so many people that come and shop at Piggly Wiggly and that are you know there on the weekends and and help support organizations it's great. Along with that, how do you and your team over at Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly get involved with community events and initiatives here in Kewaskum. And Washington County?

Aaron Laatsch 7:54

We like to be involved in anything we can get our hands on. And that's from golf outings to Party on the Pavement, movie in the parks, whatever is going on in town, we try to find a way to be a part of it. And in that, because we're looking at getting our name out there because we enjoy working with those people, whether it's the chamber, the Lions Club, their Kiwanis club, the fire department, we've had such great support from those people shopping at our store and being a part of our business. And it's a great way for us to be involved in their in their ventures.

Fuzz Martin 8:23

Yeah, I really think, you know, also as a business owner, whatever you give back to the community, you get back in goodwill. And I think it's something to be said for that

Aaron Laatsch 8:33

There is we just we just love it. We love working with those people. And it really is fun.

Fuzz Martin 8:38

Aaron, what have you loved the most so far about taking over the business?

Aaron Laatsch 8:43

I think the best part for me is nothing has changed. You know, I've been able to still be out on the floor with customers. I'd still be groceries, I still help stock if needed last week, and I got called at five in the morning and I had to make donuts on a Sunday. So while that was not my choice, occupation that morning, it made the thing keep rolling and they really appreciated me being there. So it was fun

Fuzz Martin 9:07

e as a grocery store owner in:

Aaron Laatsch 9:19

You know, so everyone when you talk to everyone complains about staffing or they complain about auto stocks or supply chain, I've had nothing but positive to say I mean we have great staff, we've continued to get quality applications we've had no shortage of applications. You look in my deli on a Sunday and you'll see 8, 9, 10 people working on a Sunday were born out hot ham, salads, fresh rolls fresh chicken and you go to some other stores that are maybe struggling with some of their help and you know it's great that everyone's out there working and we just have a really good crew so as our stocks continue to improve and trucking and supply chain we just keep capitalizing on it and keep trying to grow the business good. It's a

Fuzz Martin 9:59

you know Being a place where people that people want to work for, I guess is an important thing, right? Yeah. How do you as a business, a local business champion local producers, so people who are local farmers or other local producers in our area,

Aaron Laatsch:

we look at it from always so we have a company or a family, I should say, third generation we work with. They are Randolph, they provide sweet corn force in the summer pumpkins in the fall all the way down to the little old lady who will bring us a bag full of rhubarb from her garden, we'll buy that from her and we'll put it on our shelf. And it has just worked fabulous for us to deal in local produce are local goods that we can sell at the store. And it's really great in our community.

Fuzz Martin:

I only go to your store to buy beef jerky, because we've got a great beef jerky, also locally produced, right? Yes. If you could share some words of wisdom to those who are buying a legacy business such as you have here in Washington County, what would you say?

Aaron Laatsch:

I would say enjoy it. Enjoy every moment as you continue to work with your employees, your co workers, keep growing the business and just enjoy each moment of the history. And anything you can do to improve in your community.

Fuzz Martin:

Have any like unforgettable customer interactions or experiences? From your time at the store? Do you have any that you'd like to share with our listeners? There's got to be some stories working for for the same place for 33 years.

Aaron Laatsch:

There are some stories and while we don't disclose names, obviously, one of my favorites probably and I just told the story this week. We have a customer is his kids both worked for us. He's in his maybe upper 60s 70s now and well. A couple years ago he came in and he was telling Mike idle about how we you know he was having trouble finding someone to trim the branches over a sidewalk and next thing you know, there's the store manager over there with the Piggly Wiggly truck trimming branches inside this customer's house. And yeah, I spent a half hour over there with them drag this trees to the curb and it was a real nice time. Yeah. On the other hand, during COVID We obviously had a toilet paper shortage. And one of our customers who has shopped since my grandpa had the store in the 50s She didn't have any toilet paper. She's 90 years old, and I was able to scavenge a roll out of the back room for her. And that was probably almost a tearful moment for her and probably the one of the I guess most rewarding parts of that whole experience was being able to help people out that even down the toilet paper became a necessity. And it was it was quite interesting. Yeah.

Fuzz Martin:

And those are the interactions that people always remember no matter how old they are, and also share with as many people correct and imagine how do you see the future of Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly and folding so what kind of role will it play in the community? What do you think?

Aaron Laatsch:

What we hope to do is just keep carrying on the same tradition that the Geidel's Piggly Wiggly had we keep keep rolling with our community growing with our community. Being involved in community organizations. We hope to just keep doing the same things we've been doing for years helping our customers providing good customer service and providing a convenient place to shop.

Fuzz Martin:

Alright, last but not least, what is your favorite product or section at Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly and why does it hold a special place in your heart?

Aaron Laatsch:

I think my favorite part of the store is all the homemade recipes and specialty items we do. So whether you're coming in to buy some of our torts, you know we'll make over 30m 30 pounds a week of different torts that we'll put out. We have special depth salads. I know a couple summers ago I was at a graduation party. They had some great baked beans there by my friend's mother in law and now we have Jones baked beans in our deli. We have Sharon's pretzel dip in our deli and that we picked up at a family party too. So it's just those little touches that it's nice to see when customers are purchasing them or your buy a friend's house they're entertaining and they're serving your homemade products at at their party.

Fuzz Martin:

I have to ask this then is Dawn's potato salad is that same similar deal?

Aaron Laatsch:

Dawn, Dawn is more of a franchise we do purchase okay,

Fuzz Martin:

it fits in because that's what we always buy as Dawn's potato salad and then I'm like Oh are we actually buying like this your aunt or something? Well, it's still good and also your taco dip is correct. That's always the go to on our family as well. Aaron, congratulations on the purchase of your store. Oh by the way, if you as a listener want to look at a really cool timeline. I have to give you kudos we do websites for living in your your timeline on your website of the Sentry to Piggly Wiggly. Yes is fantastic didn't start out as a Sentry it started.

Aaron Laatsch:

We started in 1876 as just my great great grandfather's name. We evolved in the century involved in the Piggly Wiggly.

Fuzz Martin:

Yeah, you could go onto KewaskumPig.com and see some really cool historical photos and the timeline of how things all came to be from being your great great grandfather's store on mates. Read their two Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly on Fond du Lac Avenue and Kewaskum. Aaron, congratulations again to your new to you store. Thank you for serving our community. Thanks for coming on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

Aaron Laatsch:

Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

Fuzz Martin:

Thank you again to Aaron Laatsch, the proud new owner of Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly in Kewaskum for joining me on this week's episode, if you have an idea for a guest for the show, hit me up go to fuzz.cc/guest. That is f u z z dot c c slash guest. Or you can just email me fifteenwithfuzz@gmail.com. Again, that's fifteen spelled out with fuzz@gmail.com. New episodes come on on Tuesday mornings at midnight. So if you want to be the first to listen, you need to stay up really late or get up early. Or you know you can just listen whatever works best for you. Again, hit the Follow button on your podcast player and it will give you a little notification whenever a new episode becomes live. All of the episodes are also available at fifteenwithfuzz.com. Thank you again for listening. Have a great week. And I'll talk to you again next week right here o minutes with fuzz

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Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz
Showcasing the positive things happening in Washington County, Wisconsin.
Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz is sheds light on all the great things going on in and around Washington County, Wisconsin. The host, Fuzz Martin, is a local business owner (EPIC Creative) and a former radio personality (92.5 WBWI - now Buzz Country). New episodes launch on Tuesday mornings. https://fifteenwithfuzz.com

Whether you're in West Bend, Kewaskum, Slinger, Hartford, Germantown, Richfield, Jackson, or anywhere else in the area, 15 Minutes with Fuzz serves the community with fun and positive people, places, events, and attractions.

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Fuzz Martin

Fuzz Martin is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at EPIC Creative in West Bend, Wis.