MINSTER – Wagner’s IGA, which the Wagner family has owned for almost 100 years, will be sold this summer to a former employee who is the current owner of a grocery store in eastern Ohio.
Wally Wagner Jr., the president of Wagner’s IGA and third-generation owner, said he is selling the grocery store chain to Leo Braido, the owner of Oberlin IGA in Oberlin. Wagner hopes to complete the sale by Aug. 1.
“We couldn’t find a better buyer for Wagner’s to continue on,” Wagner said. “The name and the heritage of the store and the involvement in the local communities, he understands all of that because he’s been involved in that basically all his life. He understands the importance of it, and that’s why we feel so comfortable and good about him purchasing it.”
Under the new ownership, all three stores in Minster, Fort Loramie and New Bremen will continue to operate under the Wagner’s IGA name. All the bakery, deli and meat department recipes also will remain part of the business.
“I don’t think a customer is really going to see much of a difference,” Wagner said.
Braido started in the grocery industry as an employee of a family-owned chain of more than a dozen stores in eastern Ohio, working his way into a management role during his 29 years with the company. He was with Wagner’s for a year and a half to help open the New Bremen store, which in 2013 became the third Wagner’s IGA location.
Back then Braido told Wagner he was interested in purchasing Wagner’s IGA, but at that time Wagner wasn’t ready to sell his business.
“He’s always had a desire to get back to the area,” Wagner said, adding Braido plans to relocate closer to the Wagner’s stores. “He loved this area. He loved the stores, Wagner’s, and he wanted to get back.”
After leaving Wagner’s, Braido purchased Oberlin IGA. He has owned that business for the past seven years.
“He’ll continue the tradition of the Wagner’s IGA, and as far as all the team members, that they’re going to be well taken care of, that’s real comforting to know that those things will be done,” Wagner said.
Wagner’s IGA was founded in 1922 by Wagner’s grandfather A. J. Wagner. His father, Wally Wagner, Sr., then owned the store before Wagner took ownership of the family business.
The third-generation owner of Wagner’s expanded the business from a single location in Minster, adding stores in Fort Loramie and New Bremen in 2003 and 2013, respectively.
“It’s quite an honor to be involved in a family business for almost 100 years,” Wagner said. “And it’s served our family well. The communities have given us great support, and you really couldn’t ask for much more.”
Wagner has four children, but none of them were interested in owning the business.
“I have four kids, and all of them are doing fantastic,” Wagner said. “And they have other careers.
“They love what they’re doing. I always told them as they were growing up that just because I chose the grocery industry doesn’t mean they have to. And they all worked in the store, and they all love it.”
Over the years, Wagner has had several people inquire about purchasing Wagner’s IGA including large companies. However, he never felt there was a good fit.
During a sales call in October 2020, one of Braido’s representatives mentioned he still was interested in purchasing Wagner’s IGA. That’s when serious discussions about a potential sale of Wagner’s began.
When the transfer of licenses to sell liquor, beer, wine and lottery tickets is complete, the sale will be finalized.
After he sells the business, Wagner is looking forward to having more opportunities to golf, fish and spend time with his children and grandchildren.
Wagner will remain with Wagner’s IGA for at least two years, though, to help Braido with the transition.
“We want to make it a very smooth transition,” Wagner said. “It’s going to take that long to get him up to speed and make the transition easy on him.”
Wagner also is looking forward to the 100th anniversary celebration of Wagner’s IGA, with a yearlong celebration set to begin Jan. 1, 2022.
“I always wanted to see 100 years, to be around,” Wagner said. “So I’ll be around plenty long for all of that. And like Leo said, he said, ‘We made it 100. We can make it another 100.’”
For more information about Wagner’s IGA, visit www.wagnersiga.com, call 419-628-3537 or visit any of its stores in Fort Loramie, Minster or New Bremen.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.