Brennan's Market set to close after 75 years

Wisconsin State Farmer
Paul and Karen Suchocki of Brookfield select some peaches at Brennan's Market in Brookfield.

MADISON - Officials of a grocery store chain with Wisconsin roots say the company will close its five stores later this year because it can no longer compete in today's market.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the closure of Brennan's Market will end the Monroe-based company's 75-year run and leave 150 people without jobs.

Officials say the grocery store chain will also close its New Glarus cheese storage facility Sept. 30.

"Although we're all saddened by the decision to close our doors later this year, we are sincerely grateful for the generations of loyal customers and our incredible partners," said Tim Culhane, the company's general manager and owner, in a statement.

All the stores will be sold, said Wayne Glowac, a company spokesman.

The Brookfield location is being sold but will remain open along with the other stores, according to a news release on Brennan's website.  As of now, there are no firm plans for the sale of the remaining properties but all stores will remain fully staffed and stocked.  

Company officials said business never recovered from the Great Recession and that sales stayed stagnant.

"The growth of competition and new options for consumers has made Brennan's Market business model unsustainable," company officials said.

David Livingston owns his own grocery consulting business. The former Roundy's executive said the expanding grocery market left Brennan's struggling for market share.

Karen Morrison (left) and her daughter Taylor Morrison, both of Madison, look over some berry spread at  Brennan's Market in Brookfield at 19000 W. Blue Mound Road.

"All of these high-quality perishable stores have the latest and greatest," Livingston said. "It was very difficult for (Brennan's) to compete. I think a lot of people forgot they were around."

Brennan's history

According to the news release, the company began in 1942 when Frank Brennan opened up a fruit stand in Monroe. He later added cheese to the stand. The company grew into its current form in 1967 when Brennan's son, Skip Brennan, borrowed $10,000 from a bank to open a store in Madison. Culhane purchased the store from Skip Brennan in 2014.

In 1942, when Frank Brennan opened his road-side fruit stand in Monroe, Wisconsin, he wasn’t aware his legacy would last for 75 years.  Unfortunately, due to changing consumer habits and increased competition, Brennan’s Market will be closing all stores September 30, 2017.

Over the years, Brennan’s Market has built personal relationships with its growers and producers to assure the best possible quality from harvest and production to delivery.

Jeanne Luprecht of Pewaukee makes a selection from the Haus of Prime Meats & Deli at Brennan's Market in Brookfield.

For decades, the Brennan’s family and staff personally visited and inspected every farm, orchard, vineyard, microbrewery and cheese factory that they purchased from including locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Italy.  

In 1967 Brennan’s Market expanded into Madison, WI, in 1988 into Brookfield, WI and into Oconomowoc, WI in 2009 as Frank’s son Skip took over the management of the business. Brennan’s Market saw a significant decline in sales during the recession beginning in 2008.  

However, even as the economy rebounded, Brennan’s Market sales remained flat.  The growth of competition and new options for consumers has made Brennan’s Market business model unsustainable. 

“Without our outstanding staff we never would have achieved our high level of customer service and we will be assisting them with job placement support this fall,” Culhane said.

“We hope that all past employees and customers we’ve had the honor to serve over the years will stop in and visit through Sept. 30 and enjoy our final Chin Drippin’ Peach Season,” Culhane concluded.  

The Associated Press contributed to this story.