Independent Operators Need Passion: NGA Panel

LAS VEGAS — What differentiates an independent store from a chain is passion — for the products they sell and the customers they serve — industry executives told a workshop session Monday at the National Grocers Association annual convention here.

At Roche Bros. [3] we do traditional media advertising on products and price, but our in-store execution personalizes it and takes it to a different level,” Ross Frederiksen, director of grocery and non-perishables for the Wellesley, Mass.-based chain, said. “For example, when we have a really cool new product, our associates will rip open a bag and tell customers they must try the product, which sends a great message and personalizes the in-store experience.”

According to Sam Mogannam, owner of Bi-Rite Market, a 2,700-square-foot store in San Francisco, “Consumers want a more personal experience when they buy foods. That's why you see companies creating smaller stores and smaller environments within them for more personal experiences.”

For David Klein, senior vice president, business development, for KeHe Food Distributors, Romeoville, Ill., “It's all about passion for food. We encourage our people to become foodies and let us know when they find something new out there.”

Mogannam also urged operators to buy from local suppliers. “The only way to have local apples tomorrow is to buy them today,” he said.

Frederiksen said buying local “keeps freight costs down and helps create a connectivity with customers;” and Klein said buying from local sources “transcends product on the shelf and creates a community. As an independent business operator, it allows you to support other independent businesses in your communities.”