The Legacy of Tom’s Food Markets

By GATHER Staff

Since 1994, Tom’s has been there through thick and thin and remained a community favorite for many years, augmenting the local chain’s multiple locations. The convenience of Tom’s is the hallmark of the local, family-owned chain, but its quality fresh and local produce, meats and product lines has us coming back time and again.

Tom Deering

Founded by Tom and Eva Deering in 1946, the original store was called Deering’s Market. It was located at 545 W. 11th Street in Traverse City.  Deering’s was small and specialized in meats. In 1953, after several additions and remodels, the market name was changed to “Tom’s Food Market.” Over time, thanks to Dan Deering, the downtown store expanded to multiple locations in Traverse City, Interlochen, Acme and Northport, offering products and services, and covering entertainment needs as well as everyday mealtime solutions.

Daniel Deering, who had been the second generation driving force behind Tom’s Food Markets, passed away in March of this year. He was passionate about continuing his father’s vision and was the real driver behind growing the business to multiple locations. Even in his 80s, Dan continued to maintain an office at the Tom’s corporate headquarters and was still an integral part of the business.

Dan had a heart for the Traverse City community. He had always been of a “pay it forward” mentality. Having been passionate about educating children, Deering recently donated $1 million toward the construction of Immaculate Conception School. Other projects he donated funds for were the children’s areas of the Interlochen Public Library and Peninsula Community Library, and to the pool at the new YMCA, Easling Pool and the TART Trail’s Boardman Lake Loop Project. Generosity and the success of Tom’s Food Markets were a large parts of his amazing legacy.

Christy Kuhnke and Jane Deering

Dan’s daughters, Christy Kuhnke, President and Jane Deering, Corporate Director, are now operating directors of Tom’s. Grocery shopping has changed since the 1940s, when a lack of refrigeration meant plenty of dry goods and canned products. One thing that hasn’t changed at Tom’s? Assistance packing your groceries and loading them into your car … service you can’t find anywhere else.

Other Tom’s amenities include:

  • Quality meats and seafood
  • Fresh produce·In-house bakery
  • Delicious deli
  • Extensive beer and wine selection at all six markets
  • Beautiful floral
  • General merchandise that changes with the seasons

As the original fresh and local market, Tom’s partnership with Taste the Local Difference® as a licensed retailer underscores its commitment to sourcing local food. Walk into any Tom’s Food Market and you will see the orange TLD brand showcasing food that is grown and produced in our region.  Another recent amenity is Panda North Sushi, which is available at West Bay and 14th Street markets. A hometown favorite, Panda North delivers its sushi fresh to Tom’s deli departments daily.  

As with every other local business in our community, Tom’s relies on consumers choosing their Traverse City rooted grocery stores over other larger chains. If you are a local small business, then you know, the corporate conglomerates can never offer the local caring and commitment that comes from a resident owned business backing their entrepreneurial venture. If you shop at Tom’s Food Markets, you are helping support AND give back to the very community you live in and love.

For hours and weekly ads, visit toms-foodmarkets.com. Shop any of the five locations on 14th Street, Munson Avenue, S W Bay Shore Drive, U.S. 31N, Interlochen and Northport.

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