Progressive Grocer

FEB 2017

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Page 28 of 121

T he fifth annual Progressive Gro- cer Outstanding Independent Awards honor independent grocery operators excelling in a variety of categories: overall single-store operator, overall multistore operator, overall new concept design, overall fresh excellence, bakery, center store, deli/prepared foods, meat/sea- food, produce and technology. Each has succeeded in its own unique way, but the stores don't operate in a bubble, and each is tr ying to attract today's busy consumer. In that effort, some commonalities materialized. Fostering a connection to the community is one trend that emerged in speaking with this year's winners. Whether it was creating an atmosphere that fosters easy communication between customers and staff, or offer- ing ways for the stores to give back to the community through charitable donations, or creating a strong busi- ness environment by focusing on buying local products, the winners offer a variety of ways that can inspire own- ers to become a pivotal cog in the local economy. e workforce staffing the stores was another theme that all of the winners noted. Without good employ- ees, the stores couldn't be successful. ey are that vital link to customers and help to create a welcoming environment that encourages repeat visits. Nearly all of the winners noted that they have many long-term em- ployees who are known by customers and have become the faces of their respective stores. is year's winners have a lot of actionable ideas that can be applied to your own stores, because no matter how good you are, there's always room to make your stores bet- ter. One small change can make the biggest difference and could encourage more visits by customers. Congratulations to a great group of independents! February 2017 | | 27 What makes a good supermarket? This year's independent s tandouts offer a variety of solutions. By Katie Martin T o T he

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