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Retirement leads to changing lives for employees, owner of Austin's Super Fresh

Super Fresh, an Austin retail staple for baked goods, flowers and pop, will close Nov. 1 after more than 40 years if owner Jim Stiles doesn't find new ownership before he retires.

Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Jim Stiles, owner of Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center, checks a flower pot for a birds nest after a bird was seen flying out of it Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota. After more than 40 years, Stiles is selling the store and retiring. The garden center will close in September and Super Fresh Produce and Bakery will be open during their normal business hours until the beginning of November or if a buyer is found.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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AUSTIN — Jim Stiles has gratefully worked a job he loves every day for the last 42 years. Now with his retirement date on the horizon, his garden center, deli and bakery in Austin, Super Fresh, may shut its doors for good when he locks up for the last time.

“The store has been up for sale the last five years,” Stiles said. “We’ve had some people interested in purchasing the store around Austin and even Rochester. My wife, family and I just had to make some decisions ourselves when it came to retirement."

That decision led to a firm ending date of Nov. 1, 2022.

Super Fresh, located a few blocks north of Interstate 90 at 2101 4th St. NW, has been a part of the Austin and the Southeast Minnesota community for more than four decades.

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With the store being up for sale and Stiles having set a retirement date in advance, employees Carmen Srock and Jessica Williams have been planning for their own post-Super Fresh futures.

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Srock and Williams have both worked at Super Fresh for more than a decade, Srock as the garden center manager and Williams as a part of the deli.

Srock and Williams have always enjoyed the customer interactions the most that they’ve been graced with over the years.

“I’ve always enjoyed working here as it's given me the opportunity to meet so many people and share the experiences of gardening with them,” Srock said. “It’s always been meaningful to have people come back asking for me after their first visit to the garden center.”

“Everyone seems very happy to be here when they come in and I really appreciate the constant good energy,” Williams said. “My family has been selling corn here since it opened in the '80s, and I always came here as a kid. It's always been present in my life for a very long time.”


Super Fresh
2101 4th St NW
Austin, MN 55912

Hours of Operation
Mon-Fri 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sat 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sun 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

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Austin resident Nancy Krouse has shopped at Super Fresh since she moved to Austin in 1980. For Krouse, connecting with familiar faces, like Srock, at a locally owned establishment has always kept her coming back.

“Carmen and all employees here are really nice, helpful and knowledgeable and you don't get that in big box stores," Krouse said. "Just having someplace locally to buy the beautiful flowers and perennials for my garden every year. The bakery is fun, especially if you want to get a treat. It’s a great place and is going to be missed.”

It's not just the Austin residents who love the store. Folks from Rochester and Albert Lea travel weekly to Super Fresh, and visitors from the Twin Cities or northern Iowa come on an annual basis to get local foods and flowers.

Williams has always enjoyed introducing new customers to the local foods.

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Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Carmen Srock, the garden center manager at Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center, chats with Daniel Dustin, an employee at the garden center, while trimming "Purrsian Blue" catmint Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

“Rose Creek Honey is something I always recommend to out-of-town folks. We make our own great multigrain bread and cinnamon rolls right here from scratch, and are always a sample option for first-time visitors,” said Williams.

Srock and Williams are hopeful Stiles finds new owners before Nov. 1, but are still making the preparations if that doesn’t happen.

“As much as I have loved helping others, nothing has beat the mornings by myself here over the last 10 years, soaking up the colors with the flowers," Srock said. "This place has warmed my heart for a long time, and it’ll be sad if the store can’t continue.”

“We're still going about business as usual and enjoying each day," Williams said. "We don't want to count on closing for good, and I know there are a lot of people who would be very happy if the store were to sell to someone new.”

Stiles said there are more interested parties looking into purchasing Super Fresh, but nothing is yet finalized.

“In the last couple of weeks we've had more interest from people wanting to buy the store," Stiles said. "We certainly hope that within the next month or two that we can come to some sort of deal.”

Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
After more than 40 years, Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center owner Jim Stiles is selling the store and retiring. The garden center will close in September and Super Fresh Produce and Bakery will be open during their normal business hours until the beginning of November or if a buyer is found. Stiles is photographed Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Stiles said what he's enjoyed the most about work everyday the last 42 years, and what he will begin to miss the most once he finally retires.

“I've been very lucky over the years to have just wonderful employees. Without them, it wouldn't be anything at all. They have all been fantastic and wonderful. And the group we have now is just among the best I have had. They're just awesome,” said Stiles.

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Until Super Fresh closes for good on Nov. 1, The bakery and deli will continue to operate 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. The garden center closes Sept. 15, or when all the inventory is sold.

Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Customer Barb Hunter, of Austin, makes her way through Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center on Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Norma Kanny, with Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center, works in a greenhouse Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Signs advertising sales at Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center on Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Jennifer Forbes, who works in the bakery at Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center, helps customers Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota. After more than 40 years, owner Jim Stiles is selling the store and retiring.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Carmen Srock, the garden center manager at Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center, helps customers Melisa and Jonathan Baxter, of Blooming Prairie, Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Jennifer Forbes, who works in the bakery at Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center, helps customers Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Daniel Dustin, with Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center, works in the garden center Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center
Customer Barb Hunter, of Austin, makes her way through Super Fresh Produce and Garden Center on Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Austin, Minnesota.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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