Meet Our Experts: Director of Center Store Steve Sorensen

We believe in exceeding expectations, giving customers a sensational shopping experience each time they visit any of our stores. One way in which we uphold this belief is by providing you the best products possible. Meet Steve Sorensen, a member of our team who helps us source many of those very products.

Q: What do you do at Lunds & Byerlys?
A: I’m the Director of Center Store of center store. This essentially means that I’m responsible for the category management team in charge of all the grocery items that are in those middle aisles of the store. Our team does everything from determining which grocery items we’ll carry in each store to determining the weekly promotions for those items. We even decide exactly where those products will go on the shelves. I’ve worked in the grocery business for 36 years, and I am very fortunate that the past 15 of those years have been here at Lunds & Byerlys, cultivating my passion for local and specialty products.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: One of my favorite parts of the job is working with the local makers themselves, as they are the lifeblood of our industry. I really enjoy having the opportunity to touch all aspects of product development. The process often starts with a local entrepreneur and an idea, which leads to the development of the product, and then the actual success of getting the product to market. Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of being the first retailer to carry many local products, including Angie’s Kettle Corn, Daniel’s Fire Roast Salsa and Ames Farm Honey, just to name a few.

Q: Why does Lunds & Byerlys choose to carry so many local products?
A: Local makers share our passion and commitment to high-quality products, and their efforts help us create a sensational shopping experience for our customers. We take pride in stocking our shelves with products that have unique, local stories and we love sharing them with our customers. We also believe it’s important to source local products so we can work to reduce our carbon footprint.

Q: How do you find the best local makers to bring to market?
A: In addition to attending local food shows, farmers markets are becoming strong test sites for local products. We also receive lots of product leads from our inspired customers who are always telling us about special items they came across or heard about locally. Some of those products simply start with a family recipe that was passed down or a product that a customer has a passion about and wants
to share with others.

Q: What’s a local product you’ve been enjoying lately?
A: Now that the weather is warmer and we’re in the midst of BBQ season, Wee Willy’s Barbecue Sauce comes to mind. Bill and Lana’s products started in a local butcher shop in Afton and they have become some of our most valued partners over the years. They not only participate in all of our BBQ events, but they’re also a true Minnesota family business that has worked steadily to create a fantastic, high-quality product. We’re proud of the strong relationship we’ve built with them.