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Strack & Van Til acquires WiseWay, PayLow markets

Shoppers leave WiseWay store Hobart Tuesday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

Shoppers leave the WiseWay store in Hobart Tuesday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Stores affected by the sale

Pay Low

Gary, 6010 W. Ridge Road

Merrillville, 6001 Broadway Ave.

Merrillville, 9111 Taft St.

WiseWay

Chesterton, 1600 Pioneer Trail

Hobart, 999 West Old Ridge Road

Valparaiso, 2800 Calumet Ave.

Valparaiso, 2168 W. U.S. 30

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Updated: December 29, 2012 6:24AM



Highland-based Strack & Van Til is purchasing seven grocery stores in the WiseWay Supermarkets chain for an undisclosed amount, extending its operation to 37 stores in the Chicago metro and Northwest Indiana market, the two companies announced in a joint statement Tuesday.

The transaction is expected to close in December.

Merrillville-based WiseWay Supermarkets will retain its grocery store in Winfield, which it acquired in 2010, as well as its WiseGuys Discount Liquors chain.

David Wilkinson, president of Strack & Van Til, said the 53-year-old company intends to convert the three PayLow stores in the WiseWay chain to its Ultra banner and the four WiseWay stores to the Strack & Van Til banner.

He said the PayLow store at 6001 Broadway Ave. in Merrillville will be closed temporarily for remodeling. Strack & Van Til also will complete the already-started renovation of the WiseWay store at 2800 Calumet Ave. in Valparaiso.

“We are excited about this acquisition and having the WiseWay associates join our family. WiseWay is a locally owned company that has been an integral part of the communities they serve,” Wilkinson said in the release.

Don Weiss, president of WiseWay Supermarkets, said Strack & Van Til will be able to provide WiseWay employees with greater employment opportunities, job security and potential for advancement within Strack’s larger organization.

“I am pleased that Strack & Van Til is acquiring the stores. Strack’s corporate culture parallels the way we do business,” Weiss said.

Upon hearing news of the sale, customers at the PayLow store on Taft Street in Merrillville worried that the change in ownership would result in higher prices and fewer coupons.

“I tend to shop at PayLow because they have a lot of coupons, and the other store tends to do a similar sale within a few weeks. Although, if there’s no competition, they may not have the same sales,” said Sharon Ray of Cedar Lake.

Louis Rogers of Crown Point said the PayLow is close to home.

“As long as they keep the prices low, I’m happy,” he said.

Weiss said his family will continue to serve the community with increased investment in its real estate projects and its remaining WiseWay in Winfield.

Weiss also is the president of SJBZ Development, which has presented plans for a 117-acre combined upscale apartment and business development in Washington Township, east of Indiana 49 and Pine Creek Estates subdivision in Valparaiso.

The Weiss family has been in the grocery business in Northwest Indiana since 1940, when Weiss’ father, Marvin “Mickey” Weiss opened a small store in Gary. He opened his first WiseWay at 4th Avenue and Bridge Street in Gary in 1951, a second store at 5340 Broadway in Merrillville, and several more during the 1960s. Weiss also had some stores in Illinois for a time.

Both Strack and WiseWay are supplied by Central Grocers Inc. in Joliet, Ill.

The Food Partners LLC represented WiseWay Supermarkets as its exclusive strategic and financial adviser in the transaction.



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