The first Fareway Store opened for business at 624 Story Street in Boone, Iowa, on May 12, 1938. Fareway's concept of a self-service grocery store was considered revolutionary, allowing shoppers to pick out their own groceries rather than submitting a list to someone who would package everything for them. Shopping carts were a novelty, referred to as "rubber-tired gliders" that carried shopping baskets.
Our first ad featured coffee at 14 cents a pound and a "regular package" of Wheaties for 10 cents. Even then, our commitment to only selling USDA Choice beef was evident, with offerings of USDA Choice sirloin or t-bone steaks for 25 cents a pound.
Our founder's vision
The store opening was a dream realized for founder Paul S. Beckwith. Paul was a meat supervisor for one of the country's largest grocery chains for a number of years, but over time he noticed a gradual shift in how employees and customers were being treated. Paul envisioned what it would be like to again work where happy employees served satisfied customers.
He shared his dream with several others, including Fred E. Vitt, a merchant and patient teacher who had earned a reputation of being fair with customers and employees. When Fareway was launched, Fred was named Boone store manager as well as vice president of the Fareway organization.
The Boone store proved to be a great success. The company's corporate headquarters operated in Boone, with additional store locations soon added in Ames, Webster City, Fort Dodge, Estherville, Carroll, and Oelwein.
When it came to choosing where the next Fareway would be built, Paul was fond of saying "follow the black dirt" because he believed the company's values were in perfect sync with those living in the country's Midwest - people who were hard-working, understood the value of a dollar, and to whom family was everything.
Paul's granddaughter, P. Sue Beckwith, MD, is the current Fareway Chairman of the Board.
What's in a name?
The name Fareway was originally chosen to convey several meanings:
- A wide range of "fare", or foods;
- A "bill of fare", a commonly used phrase for grocery list; and
- Treating customers and employees fairly.
This "fare way" to do business just made sense, and it's a key reason why Fareway continues to grow and flourish.
Looking forward to the next 80 years (and beyond)
Today, Fareway is one of the largest employers in Iowa. We currently operate 121 store locations in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota, with more store openings coming soon.
As we look to the future, our growth is limited only by our ability to find the right people to staff our locations. People who embrace Fareway's values and philosophy; who truly enjoy serving others, are always willing to give the little extra it takes to succeed, and believe that no deal is a good deal unless it's good for everyone concerned.
At Fareway, we look forward to serving you and your family for many years to come.