New HVAC system at Texas Trail Market provides added comfort for shoppers
Comfortable conditions have returned to the Texas Trail Market with the installation last week of a new heating and air conditioning system.
An unexpected windfall occurred when the market received a return on their investment from their former distributor, Affiliated Foods Midwest.
"We were able to get some funds through our old supplier that we had invested in them, that came back to us after the merger. So we used some of those funds to get our heating and air conditioning," said General Manager Bill Cushing. "The heating and air conditioning was altogether about $11,000."
Last fall, Affiliated Foods Midwest merged with Associated Wholesale Grocers out of Kansas City, both of which are cooperatives like the market. The latter, served 3,800 stores, while the former, Affiliated Foods, served only 800. The new, larger distribution network enables the market to offer reduced prices on many of the items in the store.
The upgrade of the facility will certainly enhance the shopping experience for customers, not to mention employees who have bravely stood their posts this winter.
"This is just for comfort. You gotta have the place, the business in good shape, This is one of those maintenance things that you gotta have," Cushing said. "Gals out front aren't wearing coats anymore."
Next on the list, the market is in the process of submitting a grant to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other sources, to fix the lights in the building. The USDA grant, if awarded, will cover 25 percent of the cost of an upgrade.
"They're available to businesses and us being a cooperative and basically as a not for profit corporation, we're eligible for funds," Cushing added.
The market is in the process of putting out bids for the lighting. Going forward with the work will require the replacement of ballasts and all the lighting in the store. The fluorescent lighting will be replaced with LED lighting, which, while it requires a more substantial upfront investment, the expenditure will be recouped over time due to the longer life of LED lighting.
Customers, who wish to get an idea of the improvement new lighting will bring, need only walk down aisle six, where the lights were recently changed.
The heating system, installed during a period of above average temperatures, does come in time for the expected cold snap predicted by weather forecasters.
Come the summer, the new air conditioning system will be a welcome relief for the market's cashiers, who in summers past had only fans for comfort.
"In the summer, we never had air conditioning up there," Cushing said.