Progressive Grocer Independent

DEC 2016

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December 2016 | Defining the Independent Market | 7 e idea was to make the store a one-stop shop for con- sumers, no matter what type of products they're looking to buy, says CEO Tom Scott, who re- cently retired from the company. Aside from a separate health- and-wellness department, all products are merchandised according to type, with organic and conventional items integrat- ed on the shelf. is places all of the options in the same location, making it easier for customers to make decisions. Local Defined e grocer's newest mission is to promote Real Food. Real People. Oliver's has committed to sourc- ing locally as much as possible, and "local" is defined as Sonoma County. e more than 300 local businesses from which it sources must have 50 percent ownership in Sonoma County or source 100 percent of their ingredients from the county. "It's a small geographic [area], but we try to be pretty broad within that," Scott says. For example, a locally owned winery sources some of its grapes from W hile the tagline for Oliver's Market may have evolved from "Giving People a Choice" to "Real Food. Real People." both concepts still factor heavily into the company's go-to-market strategy. Founder Steve Maass opened the first Oliver's Market in 1988 and now operates four locations in Sonoma County, with the latest store opening in Windsor, Calif., this past May. In 1994, Maass made the decision to convert his conventional Oliver's Market into a crossover or hybrid store, offering both conven- tional and natural and organic items, adding 11,000 square feet to the location to make it possible. "Our original thing was that we give people a choice," Maass says. "One of the things I didn't like about health food stores was you felt very compelled to only buy certain things. We have Doritos; we also have kale chips, and we have organic kale chips." outside the county, but is considered local, since it is based in the county, and a wine variety from a national brand can have a local tag if the grapes are sourced from Sonoma County. To help tell that local story, all of the stores feature posters of the local suppliers and farmers from which the store sources. "We're always trying to connect the story of what's being done in the county to what they're buying. Even if it's a national brand and they are out of Sonoma County, we try very hard to draw those con- nections for our customers," Scott explains. "It dawned on us about 20 years ago that that's our competitive advantage, that we're local, too, and we understand this place better than any chain stores." LEADERSHIP FROM LEFT, Tom Scott, CEO (retired); Steve Maass, founder; Eric Meuse, Stony Point store director; Scott Gross, Windsor store director.

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