Dan’s Supermarket / Supervalu

By on November 26, 2012

Dan’s Supermarket is the region’s dominant grocer with six locations in Bismarck-Mandan. Interestingly, Dan’s is not named for a real person. Instead, the name stems from the store’s early “Super Dan the Valu Man” marketing campaigns, which featured the namesake cartoon character.

After nearly seven decades of local ownership, SpartanNash acquired Dan’s Supermarket in 2015, ending a long-time relationship with distributor Supervalu.

Early History

Dan’s has its roots back to 1949, when Roy Rockstad & Eugene “Bus” Leary purchased the local Piggly Wiggly at 621 Broadway Avenue and converted it to Bismarck Supervalu.

Bismarck’s Piggly Wiggly had opened in 1934 before being purchased by Willie W. Oliver in 1939. In 1949, Supervalu purchased the Piggly Wiggly locations in Bismarck, Dickinson, and Mandan before reselling the Bismarck store to Rockstad and Leary. The nearby Mandan store was sold to Emily Moos and William Joersz, and also retained the Supervalu name (Bill’s Supervalu).

Dan's Supermarket (North)

Dan’s Supermarket (North)

Rockstad and Leary had been coworkers at National Tea Store, where Rockstad was market manager and Leary the store’s general manager. Prior to purchasing Bismarck’s Piggly Wiggly, Leary had operated his own grocery store, Leary Grocery, for 3 months, upon selling the store.

Expansion and Growth: “Dan’s”

Rockstad and Leary opened a second location at the newly christened Arrowhead Shopping Plaza in 1953. Anchoring Bismarck’s first shopping center, the new location was called “Dan’s” Supervalu to differentiate itself from its downtown location. The company opened a larger location at Arrowhead when the mall expanded northward in 1960, which remains the oldest grocery store still operating in Bismarck.

In 1970, Dan’s opened a south location (relocated in 1995) adjacent to Kirkwood Plaza, which was still undergoing construction at the time. Its original Broadway location closed the following year.

A north location, penned “Century Supervalu,” opened in 1975 on the north end of Kmart. That location was replaced with a new store adjacent to Gateway Mall in 1981 – the building now home to Hobby Lobby – which itself was replaced in 2003 with its present State Street store.

Its Mandan location opened in March 1999.

New South Store; Walmart Lawsuit

In 1995, at a cost of $5 million, Dan’s relocated its Kirkwood location to its present-day location at 826 S Washington Street. Dan’s had purchased the land in 1987, but opted to wait until improvements were made to Washington Street, including construction of the Main Avenue underpass, before constructing the store. The new location was the first to serve under the “Supermarket” banner, as opposed to Supervalu, when it opened on July 4, 1995.

The South Washington store was revolutionary for the market at the time, not only in size, but amenities. Spanning 65,000 square feet, it was the first local grocer built specifically to house a banking institution, although then-Econofoods beat Dan’s by a matter of month through a remodeling effort to open a Bank Center First branch (now American Bank Center). It also featured a gift shop, coffee shop, and bakery with a separate entrance for fast and convenient shopping.

The new location opened on the heels of an ongoing lawsuit between Dan’s and neighboring Walmart. A restrictive covenant agreement, in place from when Dan’s purchased its land two years prior to Walmart, banned a direct competitor on the neighboring parcels for 20 years. At first victorious in their lawsuit against Walmart, the national retail chain won an appeal in 1994 that allowed for the sale of limited grocery items.

Frictions between the two retailers continued when an effort to directly link the properties with a permanent driveway was initiated by Dan’s prior to opening the new store. Without a gutter or curb separating the properties, travelers soon created their own paths between the stores. An agreement was ultimately made in 1997, where Dan’s footed the entire construction bill and fully dropped the covenant restriction in exchange for constructing the permanent driveway.

Other Locations

At its height, Dan’s owned and operated a total of 11 locations across North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

In 1980, Dan’s purchased King’s Supervalu in Dickinson and built a second Dickinson location in 1982. Those locations were both sold in 2013 to Nash Finch, who transitioned them to the Family Fare banner.

Dan’s also previously operated locations outside of North Dakota, including stores in South Dakota (Rapid City) and Wyoming (Cheyenne, Sheridan, and Gillette). The Cheyenne store, which opened in 1986 and was expanded in 1991, was sold to Buttrey’s in 1996.

2013 Expansion and Sale

Dans Supermarket at Sunrise Town Centre

Dans Supermarket at Sunrise Town Centre

2013 saw three major developments for Dan’s. In April, the company announced expansion plans to anchor a new mixed-use development called Sunrise Town Centre in northeast Bismarck. In November, Dan’s sold its two Dickinson stores to SpartanNash Company. Then, in December, Dan’s purchased the Bismarck Central Market store. The purchase excluded Central Market’s Mandan location, which shuttered soon after.

The Dan’s location at Sunrise Town Centre opened in January 2015.

In April 2015, it was announced that SpartanNash plans to purchase the remaining Dan’s locations. The locations continue to operate under the “Dan’s” banner, however, are now serviced by SpartanNash; ending an over sixty-year relationship with Supervalu.

Dan’s Timeline

1949 – Roy Rockstad & Eugene “Bus” Leary convert the former Piggly Wiggly to Bismarck Supervalue

1953 – Arrowhead Plaza location opens

1960 – Larger Arrowhead Plaza location opens

1970 – Kirkwood location opens

1971 – Original Broadway location shutters

1975 – Century location opens at Kmart; “Bus” Leary Retires

1980 – Dan’s purchases and converts existing Dickinson grocery store

1981 – Gateway location replaces Century location

1982 – Second Dickinson location opens

1985 – Roy Rockstad retires; son Terrance takes reigns

1986 – Cheyenne, WY location opens

1991 – Cheyenne location expand

1993 – Rapid City location opens

1995 – Washington Street location replaces Kirkwood location; Gillette location opens

1996 – Cheyenne location sold to Buttrey’s

1999 – Mandan location opens

1997 – Capital Credit Union opens inside Dan’s Gateway location; Three additional Wyoming locations purchased (in Wright, Gillette, and Sheridan)

2003 – State Street location replaces Gateway location

2011 – Dan’s remodels south store

2013 – Dan’s purchases and converts Bismarck’s Central Market

2015 – Sunrise Town Centre location opens; SpartanNash acquires company

External Link:

Location Opening Year
Arrowhead Plaza 1953 (November)
South Bismarck (Kirkwood) 1970 (Replaced in 1995 – now Gold’s Gym)
North Bismarck (Gateway) 1975 (Replaced in 2003 – now Hobby Lobby)
South Washington 1995 (June); Remodeled 2011
Mandan 1999
State Street 2003 (March)
Northwest Bismarck (Central Market) 2013
Northeast Bismarck (Sunrise Town Centre) 2015

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *