Company Blog

It’s All A Test

by Adam Zack — September 28, 2016


Answers below. No cheating!

One thing I used to look forward to when I graduated college was the end of tests. Since I was 5 years old it seemed the test cycle was non-stop, and it would finally be coming to an end! No more studying stress! Standardized tests, mid-terms, finals, SAT, entrance exams, term papers, pop quizzes would all be coming to an end – forever! I was obviously wrong. While the scholastically required graded tests may have come to an end, life tests that are now constant usually are less fun than the school tests of the good ol’ days. Now as adults we have tests of patience, tests of determination, endurance and will power. You got drug tests, driver’s tests, competency tests, paternity tests, intelligence tests, medical tests, personality tests and self-tests. We monitor crash tests, stress tests, nuclear tests, software tests and beta testing. Life’s a test, it seems and everywhere we are being graded. It’s stressful just thinking about it! So to take your mind off of the tests of everyday life, I am giving you a pop quiz about food, the thing as grocers and grocery marketers that we all have in common. It’s easy, amusing and somewhat informative. Get 100% and you get to skip your next life test an...
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Farts are Funny

by Adam Zack — September 21, 2016

Fart Face

Keep your target audience in mind.

This may or may not be a true story. And it may or may not have happened last Sunday. And I may or may not get killed for writing it.There’s this couple that have been together for many, many years. Over the years the man has got more comfortable with bodily functions around the woman. Plus, as he gets older he has a little less control. So on a semi-regular basis nature does its internal combustion work and sounds (and sometimes smells) are emitted. He is frequently reminded that they don’t smell like bon bons and roses or root beer. And most of the time they just occur. And we have no dog to blame it on. Whoops! She has been known to say “I can’t believe you just did that!” and “That sounded like it hurt!” or the standby “You better check your shorts.” The guy usually thinks they are kind of funny. No, really funny. After all, what guy doesn’t think the beans around the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles is hilarious? Who never played “Pull my finger!” with your grandpa? Because farts are funny! So last Sunday after a long day of watching football, the couple is sitting on the couch and the guy hears PHRRT! Having not heard the woman make that sound in 15 years, he says “Did ...
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The Waiting

by Adam Zack — September 14, 2016

Adam Zack

#2 Customer Complaint

“The waiting is the hardest part….”
– Tom Petty
My patience for waiting in line at the store – any store – has grown shorter and shorter, just like the majority of Americans. Maybe it’s that our schedules have got so tight that an extra 5 minutes seems like 15. Or that we are trying to do too much in a day. Or maybe we just have developed a disdain for what appears like a combination of incompetence and I-don’t-care by employees. We live right down the street from a Smart & Final, the only grocery store within a couple miles, so we frequently have to run in for an item or two. Inevitably, from 5:00-6:30 every night there are two cashiers, maybe three and about 5 people in every line. It took 2 minutes to run in, grab some arugula and cheese, but it takes 5 minutes to get through the register. And that 5 minutes seems like 15. We stand there, look around for any sign of urgency and see none. Or someone calls for customer service and no one shows up. Or the response comes back “He’s on his lunch.” And every time we say sarcastically “Huh, what a shock. There’s a long line and no one is coming to help.” It leaves us with a bad taste for the store and makes us avoid i...
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Uncommon Commonality

by webmaster — September 7, 2016


Here’s to you, Marc Homan.

My roommate from my sophomore year in college died last week. It was very sudden and unexpected. We were roommates in 1983-1984 and were paired by the University. We both had filled out the “I know no one so I’m trusting the school to pair me with a compatible roommate” questionnaires. I don’t think the school even looked at them. He was in the Navy officer-training program. I had seen “An Officer and a Gentleman”. He was handsome. Very handsome. (At his memorial Friday we learned that some of the wives who knew him referred to him as Commander Yummy – he would have been very embarrassed, but knowingly flattered). He had lots of dates. And girlfriends. LOTS. (If I only had a dollar for the number of times I had to vacate the room on his date nights…) He stayed up late. He was loud and gregarious. He was very muscular. He needed to shave every day. He was very athletic. He was in a fraternity. He could drink like a fish, swear like a sailor, party like a rock star and still be at 8:00 a.m. mass looking like he had got a solid 10 hours of sleep. His friends were all cool. He hung out with the most beautiful girls on campus. All of those things I was not or could not do. Not even close. Th...
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The Non-Verbal Message

by Adam Zack — August 31, 2016

Website Marketing - Grocery Stores

Everyday we deal with people who hear our words but don’t listen.

Many years ago I was introduced to the owner of a very prolific wine store. I had always heard that this guy was a full-on ass, but I was skeptical that it could be 100% true, as I had great respect for his store and his fantastic employees. As I was introduced I extended my hand to shake his and he barely grasped mine while at the same time looking away, effectively dismissing me as 100% unimportant and forgettable. Turns out he really was an ass, but it made an impression on me that I continue to remember to this day: Non-verbal communication often says way more about you, or someone else, than what is actually said.I was reminded of it again when I had a meeting with DW and some new potential customers. “Did you notice that that guy never made eye contact?’ said DW. Eye contact demonstrates interest and sincerity. It shows that you are listening. It relates honesty. It communicates in ways words can’t. There are many other non-verbal ways that communicate disinterest in a conversation – holding up your hand as if to say “Stop, you have bored me to the limit” or a nice, big yawn or even the circling of your fingers as if to say “...
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No One Likes the Salesman

by Adam Zack — August 24, 2016

Adam Zack

It always seemed a chore to have to take a meeting with someone trying to sell you something.

Lawyer. Real Estate Agent. Car Salesman. Union Leader. Tax Auditor. Politician. Advertising Salespeople. These are among the most disliked professions that normal Americans cringe at having to deal with. Especially in business, it always seemed a chore to have to take a meeting with someone trying to sell you something. I always rationalized that they were just doing their job, like I was doing mine, and common courtesy and respect led me to take the meetings, return the calls and listen to the spiel. But it wasn’t easy, as 80% of the sales people were there for their agenda, which rarely intersected with mine. I couldn’t blame them for doing their job – after all they had a boss on their ass saying “Did you call on XYZ market?” The great differentiator was the sales person who did their homework and really made the case for WHY their service would help me. I would start with a skeptical mindset, wondering if they could convince me to spend my slim budget. The great ones showed no pressure, no quota, no “salesmanship”. I have come to realize that the best salespeople are really not salespeople at all. Yes, it’s their object...
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Is it working?

by Adam Zack — August 17, 2016



I was sitting on the beach, reading San Diego Magazine (which is one of my favorites for what’s going on in the local restaurant and food scene) and just enjoying the day. I had just started the magazine, unwrapped my crusty ciabatta roast beef sandwich and flipped a page when out flew one of those subscription cards, which the breeze promptly took and blew about 5 yards out of my reach. I set down the magazine and my sandwich, hefted my 195 pounds out of my beach chair and retrieved the wayward card, not even looking at it. I sat back down, pulled my sandwich back out and started back on my magazine. Not 10 pages later another one of those subscription cards escaped as I turned a page. Perhaps not seeing the fate of its brother 10 pages before, it caught the wind and made it 10 yards. More sandwich setting and hefting out of the chair for me. Re-establishing my position, this time slightly irritated, I thought that there would be no more than two of those cards in a magazine. After all, who ever sends those things in? Anyone?? Not wanting to be the doof that has to get up a third time for the same task, I turned the magazine sideways and shook it. Sure enough, a third subscription card emerged. Holy crap, if they publish almo...
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Because I Say So

by Adam Zack — August 10, 2016

 People perceive a shorter wait time when they hear music they like.

Rolled our eyes and whined “Whyyyyy????!!”

When my brothers and I were kids we were cute, inquisitive rapscallions who often – innocently and very politely posed the question “Why?” to our mother and father. Well, maybe it wasn’t quite like that. We were rambunctious mountain boys hell bent on having fun with our friends. When directed by our parents to do something we didn’t want to do, we often (as in probably 95% of the time) rolled our eyes and whined “Whyyyyy????!!” And more likely than not the answer from Mom and/or Dad was “Because I said so!” If we persisted in questioning their directive, we often got the “When you have your own kids, you can give the orders! Now go rake the yard before I get the belt out!” Authority is a designation that comes with a certain amount of power to tell other people what to do without question. Why anyone, when confronted by a police officer wouldn’t do EXACTLY as the officer commands is a mile beyond logic to me. After all, he has a gun, handcuffs and if I turn into the smart –mouthed brat that questions him and defies his directives I deserve to be in trouble, right? Well that’s how I see it.So how do you d...
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Kale Is For Eating

by Adam Zack — August 2, 2016

Meat case close

Look at the case like you’re painting a picture

I love stores that have maintained their commitment to full service meat and deli departments. The large chains have cut back labor to increase profits in the face of rising wages, but high quality independents have kept, and even increased service in those key perishable departments. It’s a key point of differentiation that helps cement loyalty. Old-fashioned service is one fashion that has not gone out of style. If anything, it’s more in-style than ever. Old-fashioned service is one thing, but old fashioned merchandising is a hindrance to growth. Kale and plastic greens (including fake flowers, rubber grapes and plastic plants) are part of that old fashioned merchandising. I’ve always hated kale. Not just the taste (disgusting), but also the waxy, fake look of it. Even as we used it in our stores in the 80’s and 90’s, it just never did it for me. Now that it’s the super-food of the past few years, its cost has gone up considerably, making it also an expensive garnish. It is not cool. It is definitely not sexy. The abundant use of it actually detracts the eye from the foods in the case. And with the variety of colors added by new and exciting value added meats ...
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Strange But True

by Adam Zack — July 27, 2016



The following is a true story.  No names were changed to protect the innocent.  Reader discretion advised. On June 7th, I was driving home from the gym at about 7:45 a.m. It was a Tuesday and I took a different route than normal because I had to go to the post office to mail some important documents. Now I am sure those of you who know me are thinking “You go to the gym? Really?? I wouldn’t have guessed.” So OK, I walk a mile on the treadmill while watching Sports Center on the big TVs and then listen to some punk rock while I do some reps on the weight machines. I don’t really work up much of a sweat, but some workout is better than no workout, right? So I’m driving home with the windows down (I worked up a light glistening, but not exactly sweat) and I’m driving down Carlsbad Village Drive. As I crest the hill, I can see the ocean. Very nice. I approach the stop light behind this white Ford Ranger truck with a camper shell on it. It’s going kind of slow. Then it starts veering to the right towards the curb and I think “What the hell is that guy doing?” as he goes up the curb and BAM!, right into the stop light pole! He swerves back to the road and makes a right on the next street. Mind you, this is a slow motion collision. Like wa...
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