Company Blog

At Least I’m Consistent

by Adam Zack — July 12, 2023


Do you hear the phrase “hit and miss” when someone describes your perishable departments?

The word consistent usually brings to mind good thoughts. You naturally think being consistent is a positive trait. Our goal is to be consistent. A consistently good boss, partner, parent, friend. Consistency brings comfort and eliminates doubt. I think of Cal Ripken and his 2,632 consecutive Major League Baseball games played or Steve Nash with his over 90% NBA free throw accuracy. Consistency is a shoe-in. It’s associated with a winner. But what about consistently bad? This weekend my baby brother and his family were in town visiting and he did something – I’m not exactly sure what – maybe pouring me a shot of whiskey at 10:00 a.m. – something like that – and I told him “You’re a bad man!” (We consistently bust each others chops like that) and he said “Hey, at least I’m consistent!” Not that he’s a bad or evil person, not at all. It just made me think about how there are a lot of bad behaviors and performances that are consistently awful. The customer service experience at Walmart and Spirit Airlines comes to mind. Have you ever heard any good comment about either? Consistently you hear “I hate [insert consistently bad company name here]!...
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The Smell

by Adam Zack — July 5, 2023

Next time you’re in your grocery store, take a sniff around.

This morning I was listening to the radio and they were talking about the world’s stinkiest plant, the Rafflesia Arnoldi, or Corpse. It produces the largest flower on earth (about 3.3 feet in diameter) and smells like rotting flesh. As a kid we used to go to a big store called Fedco that was next to a meat slaughtering plant, and let me tell you from experience, rotting flesh smells terrible. So it got me thinking how smell is such an important part of our life experiences. Nothing makes you want to buy fish less than a grocery store whose seafood department smells strongly like fish. Fresh fish should smell like the sea, not a fishy smell. If it smells fishy, it will most likely taste fishy, which is why many people do not like fish. Smells can bring forth feelings of nostalgia and comfort. To this day I can recall the smell of my grandparents’ house every time I visited them. Brewed coffee, baked goods, Old Spice and dogs combined with a slight scent of my grandpa’s cigarettes (Camel unfiltered or Pall Mall reds). They don’t sound great by themselves, but combined together they still bring me comfort. Next time you’re in your grocery store, take a sniff around. Does it smell like flowers in your flora...
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by Adam Zack — June 28, 2023

What’s in a name?

So what’s your nickname? I’ve know Reds over the years that obviously get their name from being a ginger. We’ve talked about Lazy Susan. My dad gave himself the nickname Ace because he was good at most things (but tennis wasn’t one of them). There’s been endless supplies of Shortys, Shiftys, Leftys, Stinkys and Smokys. They got their nicknames from a physical trait or behavior. There’s the obvious ones – Fred is Fredrick, Sam is Samuel, Matt is Matthew. Junior was anyone named after his father. It’s like saying the whole name became just too much work. And there are some that are a real stretch. How did Henry become Hank, John become Jack or Richard become Dick? And seriously, how did Dick become either a part of the male anatomy or a really mean and unpleasant person? No wonder there are no little kids nicknamed Dick anymore and the ones named Richard strictly stick to Rich or Rick. No one wants their kid to be a Dick. Foods you sell and love can differentiate themselves from their generic name by cementing a nickname that no competitor can copy. Seaside Market in Cardiff, CA has sold a million pounds of their marinated tri tip called Cardiff Crack, a nickname made up by a customer because they thought it was so addicting. Rombauer Chardonna...
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I Love You

by Adam Zack — June 21, 2023

“You know why I work so hard? It’s because I love you so much.”

“I love you”, I said to my dad just before ending the phone call on Father’s Day. “I love you, too,” he said. He’s in his 80’s and has more Father’s Days behind him than ahead, and I realized how important it is to say the words. “I love you.” I don’t think there are three more meaningful words in the English language. Eight letters, three words, one meaning. It made me think back to childhood, adolescence and even early adulthood. As a kid, I don’t remember, even once, my dad ever telling me he loved me. And I don’t remember telling him I loved him, either. I never told my brothers I loved them and vice versa. Friends didn’t say it to each other. Maybe way back then words were meant for lovers and would-be lovers. Husbands and wives. People on their deathbeds. Today, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t say “I love you” to at least one person and truly mean it. My nephew Travis called me last night. Travis truly loves family, and every time I talk to him, he always ends the conversation with “I love you”. Not “love ya” or “love you”, but with all three words, which makes it personal. Nothing makes you feel valued more than someone telling you that they...
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by Adam Zack — June 14, 2023

“Sorry I made you mad” doesn’t quite cut it.

There is an art to apologizing. No, I shouldn’t say art, because that implies that with a lot of practice and natural talent, you have got really good at something. Being sorry so often that you have become a professional apologizer is not something you brag about. As essentially good people, we are trying to behave in thoughtful ways that don’t require frequent apologies. But we all screw up. Whether intentional or not, we all do and say things that hurt or offend others. And when we do that, as good people, we need to atone for our transgressions in a meaningful way. Love grows from forgiveness, and true repentance heals both the transgressor and the victim. Where things get sticky, and can result in prolonged grief and bad feelings, is an apology that sounds insincere or is not specific. “Sorry I made you mad” doesn’t quite cut it. I read a lot, and a recent “Ask Amy” column in the newspaper (yes, some people still read the newspaper, but we are a dying breed) addressed making amends:There are three parts to a good amends: (1) tell them what you did (in other words, take responsibility for the harm); (2) ask them if you left anything out, or if there is anything they...
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The Band

by Adam Zack — June 7, 2023

There are lots of unheralded heroes that keep your store rocking and rolling.

Bass players and drummers are brothers in the basement cooking up the groove that makes people move.–John Densmore, The Doors Your store is like a rock band. I was thinking the other day about how often the drummer and the bass player get overlooked in the band. Unless it’s someone like Phil Collins or Sting where they are not only the drum and bass player, but also the singer, the rhythm section doesn’t get enough credit. Think of your favorite rock & roll song and imagine it without the bass. It’s hard to do, but if you could do it, the song would sound radically different. Think of it without the driving drum beat keeping the pace of the song galloping forward. The result is pretty strange. It’s incomplete and awkward. The lead singer and lead guitarist are the flashy ones. They get the attention, adoration and most of the credit for the band’s success. So in your grocery store, your store manager or lead cashier may be the lead singer. Or it may be you. Your deli director or meat manager may be the lead guitarist. Who’s your drummer and bassist? Who drives the beat that your customers don’t even know about? Is it your maintenance guy? Maybe yo...
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I got you

by Adam Zack — May 31, 2023

Knowing that you have their back empowers employees to make good, confident choices.

There are a lot of words and phrases that make you feel great. “Have you lost weight?” “You look fantastic!”; “Man, you’re smart.”; “You just get better looking every day.”; “You’re the nicest person I ever met.” “I appreciate you.” There are lots of them. My favorite, though, is “I’ve got your back.” The amount of comfort I get from knowing that someone (in fact, more than just one someone) is there for me, no matter what, lets me sleep well at night, be comfortable taking risks and realize that if things get ugly in the trenches some really great people will be right there beside me, fighting my fight with me with as much passion and personal skin in the game as I have. It’s something I don’t take for granted, and know that they know that I’ve got their back too. Every day of every year. It might not be to the extreme of some deeply personal back-watching that you have, but your employees need to know that you have their back. When things get ugly and stressful, their performance will soar if they know that you are there to support their decisions and be on their side. They have to know that just because Mrs. Crabapple got a tough steak or some berries...
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What do you think about me?

by Adam Zack — May 24, 2023

We’re 100% dependent on the scrutiny of our customers and employees.

I love comedy. Whenever we need something to watch on TV our fallback is always some standup comedy. Demetri Martin. Tom Segura. Chad Daniels. John Mulaney. Mike Birbiglia. Jim Gaffigan. Dave Chappelle.The joy that hearty laughter brings is the best. It brings relief and smiles, and it just feels great to laugh. Great comedians are smart. Really smart. I was watching the sometimes funny Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and Dave Chappelle was Jerry Seinfeld’s guest. In the course of their conversation Dave said “Not caring about the scrutiny of others is the hardest thing to do.” Man, that hit home. And I thought the hardest thing to do was to be a good listener. But truly not caring about what other people are saying about you takes more than just thick skin. I think that you have to be some kind of pompous ass to not care about what other people think. Maybe the truly arrogant couldn’t care less. Or the truly rich. Because, especially in the food business, we are 100% dependent on the scrutiny of our customers and employees. We are sensitive and competitive by nature and constantly seek feedback and approval. “What do you think?” “How was it?” “How are we doing?...
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Guest Vacation Blog

by Adam Zack — May 17, 2023

Think of that person…let them know how they influenced you and your decisions.

Hello, Scott here, Adam’s oldest friend (he is actually older than me by 268 days to be exact but who’s counting). We have known each other for 54ish years, so I’m stepping in for him as he is off on a much needed, relaxing vacation.I figure I would talk about how someone, anyone, could instantly change the direction of your life and maybe you could think back to that person, friend, family member or moment you realized that the path you chose goes back to that decision you made years ago. It reminds me of a story I once read about one of Adam’s favorite musicians and how one meeting changed his life direction.It was a summer morning in 1961, and an 11-year-old Tom Petty sat on a stump in his front yard, wondering how he was going to spend his day. By the end of the afternoon, he knew how he would spend his life. To be sure, the events of that afternoon added another notch to rock ‘n’ roll history and a tantalizing addition to Florida lore. For, by the end of the day, the young Petty would encounter none other than Elvis Presley, the swivel-hipped sensation who had already been crowned ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’. And by that evening, the Gainesville youngster would...
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by Adam Zack — May 10, 2023

Supermarket sexy is about the food, not the garnish.

Food Porn. You see it all over the TV, internet, social media, magazines. Food that looks so unbelievably sexy that you are filled with lust and desire to have it. I’m obsessed with @notorious_foodie on Instagram. About half of the photos on my phone are of food. That perfect sandwich I made to show my brother. The Prime steak on the grill tantalizingly licked by flames. A produce wet rack so perfectly merchandised that the colors seem to shout “Farm Fresh!” The charcuterie board with impossibly thin sliced prosciutto and artisan salamis. And so, so many more. But the last thing anyone has ever associated with a grocery store is sexy. And by sexy I don’t mean the boom-chicka-bowm-bowm kind. I mean it in the baby-you-look-so-good! way. Food can be like that. Watch an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network and you’ll know what I mean.So, the point is, can grocery store food be sexy? Can the monotony of russet potatoes and yellow onions be forgotten by the bright colors of store made fresh fruit salad (and anyone whose fruit salad is cantaloupe, honeydew and green grapes does not count.) Grilled Chicken breasts with thin slices of fresh lemon on them are sexy. Curried chicken salad looks hot. Kale i...
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