Progressive Grocer Independent

FEB 2016

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14 | Progressive Grocer Independent | February 2016 2016 I N D E P E N D E N T S OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY OUTREACH W e've had people support us their entire lives," says Jimmy Wright, owner of Wright's Market, in Opelika, Ala. "I would not have a business today, or even have the opportunity to have a business today, if I had not grown up in this community and had all the things these people worked hard to provide." Wright's community outreach extends much further than just his business. While he provides community services that directly afect his business, such as a free shuttle for customers, others are less direct. Monetary support can only go so far, and although Wright gives 10 percent of his pre-tax proft back to the community, he also has become involved in community development to help revitalize two area neighborhoods. "People came to me and were concerned about their neighborhoods," Wright says. Two years ago, he headed the committee to create a revitalization plan, which includes im- proving existing housing, adding space for small businesses, creating a bike/walking path, and developing the Art Trail, street art that tells the history of the Carver and Jeter com- munities. Much of the plan was implemented in 2015, but that's just the beginning. To ensure that the plan continues, Wright founded Te Opelika Community Development Corp., a nonproft organization. "I think you should be concerned with overall quality of life," Wright adds. "I think the independent grocer is such a huge part of the DNA of communities, and we still have opportunities to see thousands of people every week through our stores. Tat's a lot of opportunity to engage with people." "Community" doesn't just mean his immediate town. During Wright's research on how to revitalize communities, he came into contact with a group in Atlanta that wanted to open a grocery store in a neighborhood they were working in. Te spot they had in mind was only 2,500 square feet, and Wright knew it would be hard to get a distributor, so he makes biweekly deliveries to the new store from his location in Opelika. When it comes to community outreach, Wright advises retailers to live up to their values. "Follow your heart, follow your passion, follow your concerns," he adds. C harles Reichert and his family own and operate fve fve-star IGA stores throughout Long Island, includ- ing the Fort Salonga Market, in Fort Salonga, N.Y. "Wherever we are, we try to help out the town and give back to the town," he says. Reichert and his wife, Helen, created the Reichert Family Foundation, which is funded from Reichert's portion of store profts. While the foundation focuses mainly on children, parks and historic places, it also donates to facilities close to the family's heart, including $1 million to the local Huntington Hospital to build a 20,000-square-foot imaging center that includes a 3D mammography machine, CT scan and MRI equipment. Another project the foun- dation supported was the Vanderbilt Planetarium. After a donation of nearly $1 million, the planetarium has been com- pletely refurbished with a new state-of-the-art projector and renamed the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium at the Vanderbilt Museum. Several area parks also have been supported by the foundation, as well as new exhibition space at the South- old Historical Society, a memorial dedicated to volunteer fre fghters lost in the line of duty in Southold, two scholarships to seniors graduating from Northport and Kings Park high schools, and a generator for the South- old community center. But some eforts hit even closer to home. When a supermarket near a subsidized senior community closed down, the town provided a bus to Reichert's Larkfeld IGA, in nearby Northport, N.Y. But the catch was the bus cost $6, which would put a strain on many of the seniors' budgets. Reichert ofered to deduct the cost of the bus from the seniors' grocery bills. "Te bus comes twice a week, and maybe 15 people are on the bus," Reichert says. "When they come in, they just say they're of the bus. It's an honor system." He views it all as simply taking care of his community. "We're in this small town, and if we didn't take care of the town, who would?" he asks. "How would we do busi- ness without the customer? Aren't we all in it together? Tat's how I look at it." Fort Salonga Market, Fort Salonga, N.Y. Wright's Market, Opelika, Ala. Helen and Charles Reichert

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