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Apr 7, 2003 09:26 PM

Woodmans - Largest Grocery Store in the USA in Wisconsin!

  • c


Occasionally, we cross the cheddar curtain to shop until we drop in the Nation's largest grocery store. Woodmans is a 24-hour grocery on the northeast corner of Interstate 94 and Highway 50 just over the Wisconsin border from Illinois. It may well be the world's largest but there is a rival store in the UK which may be a smidge bigger.

This is a full service grocery store with a capacity of 250,000 square feet including warehouse. A worker advised simply walking the perimeter is a 3 mile walk! It dwarfs any Costco or Sam's club -- and carries a variety of food products not seen everywhere.

Of course for those living south of the Wisconsin border, Woodmans is the place to go for milk, eggs, cream, cheese, sausages, ect from the great dairy state. The yogurt case is perhaps 40 feet long with a plethora of yogurt producers which goes beyond Dannon and Yoplait. I always buy the whole milk yogurt with the cream layer on top from Stoneyfields. It makes excellent cucumber soup in Summer. Yes, I can buy Stoneyfields locally but not the whole milk variant!

My Mom's favorite product we never buy: pickled eggs in the meat department. She just swoons over the pickled pigs feet, another product we don't buy!

Vegetable department is rather weak. However, you can buy Kringle in the Bakery department.

In the frozen food department, there are two 30-40 foot cases with frozen juices. In addition, I found a section with several varieties of frozen pasties -- the meat pastry reknowned in the U.P. We like the beef-potato-rutabaga type.

In the laundry products area, I have found a bleach gel made by Spray and Wash which I haven't found in the my local stores. I use it exclusively to clean my tablecloths after holiday dinners. I shake the tablecloth out, then bring it to the laundry room. I spot treat as I snake it in the washing machine. My favorite tablecloth looks snowy white without any stains from cranberries, grape juice, jello and other known abuses!

I cannot say this is destination shopping. However, if your destination takes you close to Woodmans, then bring a cooler and stop in. There are enough unknown products on the shelves to keep you feeling like a grocery tourist!

Have fun!

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  1. It's a great place to stock up if you're in the area.
    Great prices and huge selections of everything.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Artie

      There's a woodmans in Green Bay and Appleton too. This place is so huge it is unreal.
      I like their selection of ethnic food. It's great because no other grocery store in Green Bay has much in the way of ethnic food.
      Also the liquor department is unreal. Nearly anything you could want, they have it.

    2. Rockford, IL now has a Woodman's too. It is a great store, lots of choices. Mary

      1. What else does the store have? Is there a food court, brick oven pizzeria, in store restaurant, chocolatier, etc. Below is the link to Wegman's whose stores range up to 135,000 square feet of floor space which is 100% food related. Click on the department search which gives a list of features for the various stores. Their larger stores feature all of these. How would this compare to Woodman's?
        Connecticut has a mini chain called Stew Leonard's ( is about 200,000 square feet.


        15 Replies
        1. re: Joe H.

          Well, well, well

          "Is there a food court, brick oven pizzeria, in store restaurant, chocolatier, etc."

          I said it is a grocery store, not an amusement park ;) or mall! People buy their groceries and go home. Simple concept! (Though just up the street is franchise food heaven and lots of outlet malls. Another 3 miles west is Thompson's U-Pick Strawberry Farm)

          Next time I am in CT - I was near last week - I will go to Stews and advise!


          1. re: Cathy2

            For an amusement park/grocery store atmosphere you would need to visit the one-of-a-kind 200,000 square foot Jungle Jim's north of Cincinnati.

            Jim Bonaminio is quite the character and used to cruise through the isles of his store on roller skates.

            I hope that his new expansion plans, and all the corporate names that will be associated with it, don't ruin the character of the place.


            1. re: Matt

              What excellent timing! I will be in Cincinnati in June for a Master Gardner conference. Cool food destination!

              Thank you for the tip!


              1. re: Matt

                Matt writes:

                "I hope that his new expansion plans, and all the corporate names that will be associated with it, don't ruin the character of the place."

                So do I. It's a great place, and we try to go there every few months or so since we're not far from there. I was impressed by the latest expansion creating a larger area for ethnic groceries from the UK, Poland, Germany, etc. and thought that was very well done. Er... I can do without the Robin Hood display, but it's amusing to see peoples' first reaction to it. :)


                1. re: Ariane

                  Currently, Jungle Jim's has 172,000 square feet. With the expansion they will probably go slightly over the largest Woodman's in overall size. I want to thank everyone who has posted to this. I start a 8,000 mile driving trip in three weeks that will take me through Chicago, Rockford, Minneapolis and eventually back through Cincinnati. I WILL go to both Jungle Jim's and Woodman's. Along with Connecticut's Stew Leonard's there is apparently a real trend to build these ultimate mega grocery stores that draw from areas over 25 miles.
                  Having said ALL of this nothing really takes the place of small individual shops in public markets like Bologna and Barcelona. Still these seem like a step in the right direction.

                  1. re: Ariane

                    My wife and I moved away from the Cincinnati area a few years ago and we really miss Jungle Jim's. It truly was like taking a trip to the U.N.. Thanks for the update and the direct link to their website.

                    1. re: Matt

                      I was just browsing through the Jungle Jim's website and had a fond memory of the first time my beer-lovin' soul gazed upon "THE Amazing 75-foot Wall of Beer!"

                      Thanks again for the link!


                      1. re: Matt
                        beaune docotor

                        Woodman's has a pretty fine selection of local WI brews at very reasonable prices. Hop-heads take note! Their wine selection frequently produces an amusing selection but is not their forte.

                        1. re: beaune docotor
                          beaune doctor

                          PS Bring cash or check book. No credit cards accepted!

                2. re: Cathy2

                  I wasn't trying to be facetious or sarcastic, rather I was curious about how they fill out over 200,000 square feet? There are only so many shelves you can have. By mentioning Wegman's and Stew Leonard's I am talking about other larger stores and the kinds of food related attractions that they fill their stores with. I'll actually be driving by Rockford in four or five weeks and can stop in; otherwise your comments could be quite helpful. Sorry if my previous post was ambiguous.

                  1. re: Joe H.

                    "I wasn't trying to be facetious or sarcastic, rather I was curious about how they fill out over 200,000 square feet?"

                    It's simple....They carry many,many varieties and brands of everything. For example their sausage case alone is the length of a normal grocery stores entire meat department.
                    A stroll by the spices or hot sauce sections will find a huge assortment of independent products that are usually only available locally where they are manufactured.

                3. re: Joe H.

                  Glad to see the plug for Wegman's. I am sure it doesn't compare to the Wis. store, but I have always been impressed by Wegman's.

                  This gives me the opportunity to ask this question which is something that has been bothering me for quite some time. I currently live in the heavily populated area around Cleveland, which certainly has more people than Buffalo, or the Finger Lakes region of central New York, where you find both Wegman's and Tops Super Stores. The thing I cannot understand is why don't we have stores of this magnitude in the Cleveland area? What makes it more amazing is the Tops chain is here as well, but none of their stores is as large and varied as the ones I have seen in the New York state areas mentioned above.

                  1. re: Jambalaya


                    My guess: cost of real estate! Woodmans is in between Chicago and Milwaukee, just off the interstate in an area which is largely undeveloped.

                    Grocery business is large volume, low margin business where shelf space is carefully considered real estate. In a cheaper location, they can provide more variety without as much a financial sacrifice.

                    So much for my best guestimate!


                    1. re: Jambalaya

                      Jambalaya, in five or six weeks I will be driving right by the Woodman's in Rockford. Having been in at least 15 Wegman's (including their 115,000 square foot store in Erie which may be the closest to you) I am going to find it hard to believe that this store is better. I've been in a lot of enormous category killer super markets around the country but belive theat the best ones aren't necessarily the ones that have unlimited shelf space. There are several Wegman's (Allentown, PA, Princeton, NJ) that are around 125,000 square feet and just incredible. Byerly's in Minneapolis has a really large store on the west side of the metro area that is not as big but just really, really good. Larry's Markets in Seattle actually have a Wegman's kind of ambience (i.e. public market) in a couple of their stores and, again, while not as big are excellent. Still, and I say this not having been to Woodman's yet, Wegman's for me is the best overall grocery store/food center/gourmet shop/fast food court that I've been to anywhere. There are features of individual stores which of course are better. But I have not found any ONE store that brings so much together so well under one roof.
                      Having said all this if Woodman's is THAT good-not just big, but really good, I'll be the first to admit it. Today, on the D. C. board I posted a link which has photographs of larger Wegman's stores. Curiously, the cost of real estate was mentioned in another post here. Wegman's store under construction in the Washington suburb, Sterling, VA, will be 135,000 square feet of retail space (not the overall size of the store but that is the amount of available floor selling space) which will be their largest. The size of the building including warehouse space, etc. may be 30 to 50% more than this. Still it is about 20 miles from downtown D. C. My guess is that like Woodman's they are building super regional food markets that pull from 25 to 30 miles around as ultimate "category killers." It probably isn't economically feasible to build something like this in close in suburbs.
                      Still, Woodman's is going to be interesting.

                      1. re: Joe H.

                        Used to live in Princeton, now live in WI. Woodman's is great, a sight to behold; but as much as I've got Wisconsin pride, I have to concede that the supersized Wegman's are even better.

                  2. FYI...

                    Largest store in Illinois...

                    And then Woodman's opened here, too...


                    Rockford/Loves Park/Machesney Park certainly has grocery stores!!


                    1. Whole Foods does carry the whole milk Stoneyfield yogurt in Chicago stores; one on Ashland has it.