by Adam Zack — June 20, 2018Remember when you could get a triple scoop of ice cream at the Thrifty for 15 cents?Those cylinder shaped scoops of your favorite flavors stacked three high that inevitably dripped all down your hand. Or when you didn’t have to lock your doors at night and every 4th of July there was a block party and all the dads drank beer, shot off fireworks while the kids ran around with sparklers. How great it was when you didn’t have to worry about cholesterol or gluten or allergies. There was no bottled water; you drank from the garden hose. You just ate what you were served by mom and it was all good. Remember when gas was $1 and T-bone steaks were 2 inches thick and the smell of the charcoal grill was the best thing in the world? Ahhh, the good old days. If you’re in your 50’s or older your sense of nostalgia seems to become heightened every year. Now it’s bad news here, problems there, more worries than during the time when “things were simple”. If you’re a millennial now you’re probably thinking: “What the hell is this old man prattling on about anyway?” Nostalgia is really just a recollection of good memories. We reminisce and feel good about t...read more
by Adam Zack — June 13, 2018Apparently my mom wasn’t the only one who told her kids “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” If my brothers and I had listened, there probably would have been very long periods of silence. Very long.Bob LaBonne, President of LaBonne’s Markets in Connecticut, pointed out that his mom used to tell him the same thing, and that sarcasm is most often related to humor, but when it’s not humorous to both parties, it’s just not that funny anymore. He commented that his mom also told them: “It doesn’t matter what I said or what I meant, it’s what they heard and how they felt”. And there is no time in history when that saying is more true than today. It seems like every day we have to deal with someone who was offended by some comment or action that just a couple years ago would have been considered totally benign. In fact, the offended party would have been scorned, ostracized or even mocked for just being thin skinned. It’s a new day, but it’s a better day. I don’t think that we are more sensitive than ever or the sarcasm is harsher, we are just more aware. And that’s a good thing, because to be aware we are listening and observ...read more
by Adam Zack — June 6, 2018
noun: sarcasm; plural noun: sarcasms
the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
by Adam Zack — May 30, 2018Did you realize that compliments generate revenue?A couple weeks ago we were out to dinner and when the server got around to me I gave her my choice (I don’t even remember what I ordered – it was the service that was memorable) and she said – very sincerely while looking me in the eye – “Excellent choice. That’s one of my very favorites.” They were words of affirmation and approval by someone “in the know” that made me really feel great. Upon reflection, she does that with everyone who looks like they will be paying the bill, but even if that is true, it didn’t matter. Those complimentary words resulted in a relaxed, satisfied dinner before the food even came and definitely a bigger tip. If more restaurant servers – from fast casual to fine dining – could master the art of the compliment we’d all be happier diners and they’d make more in tips. Pray tell, you ask, how does this even relate to the grocery industry? Well, I’ll tell you, and thank you for giving me the leeway to take such a circuitous route to the point. You have things that are your favorites. Lots of them. So do your employees. You even have some second, third and fourth favorites. It applies to nearly ev...read more
by Adam Zack — May 23, 2018“When I look in your eyes I see a reflection. And that reflection is me, and I look mahvelous, dahling.” – Billy Crystal (as Fernando Llamas)Being in retail all my life (Literally – my dad worked grocery night crew at Market Basket when I was born.) I have made mistakes many times over by doing the most economical thing as opposed to doing things right. I hired a repair man to fix our ice machine that saved me $100 over the qualified technician, only to find out later that he fixed it by sticking a pencil into the leak, only to cost us over $400 later to fix it right. I thought I could replace a defective electric socket myself to save the cost of having the electrician do it, only to short out all the scales that were on the circuit. Until I learned better I always used the newspaper graphics department to design my ads. After all they were FREE! and I had a budget to meet. Or I would have the radio station write my ads because their service was FREE! I’d have the magazine publisher create my ad because, of course, the service was FREE! Until one day someone pointed out, not demurely, that my ads SUCKED! After indignation and denial wore off and I got over the b...read more
by Adam Zack — May 16, 2018You know the person at your store, or your family, who is the go-to guy? The rock. The problem solver. The answer man. Your lifeline. Your shoulder to cry on. Your own personal “let me google that for you.” Your mentor.It’s the person you go to in times of crisis. Times of doubt. Times of uncertainty. They are the person who keeps their cool, thinks things through and talks you down off the ledge. Sometimes it’s mom. Sometimes it’s dad. Sometimes it’s Nana. Sometimes it’s your boss. Sometimes it’s the maintenance guy. And sometimes it’s you. The go-to guy is usually only honored at retirement. Or at his funeral. There’s no Hallmark Holiday to celebrate your go-to. It’s a role that is fulfilled by those who care and take pride in what they do and who they are. They use phrases like “You know I’m there for you”, “Call me if you need anything”, “Door’s always open” and “How can I help?” They have instincts to realize when something isn’t right with you. They know when to butt out and when to stick their nose in. Unfortunately, not everyone has a go-to. Some get thrown in to the deep and there’s no who can throw them a lifeline. Hey either sink or swim. Sometimes it’s a ...read more
by Adam Zack — May 9, 2018“I’m looking at the man in the mirror….” – Michael JacksonI got such a good response to last week’s blog that I feel the topic of really looking closely at what we see everyday needs to be probed a little further. I was listening to some comedy from the very funny and sardonic Dan Cummins recently. He talked about seeing himself straight on in the mirror: Looked good, aging well, seem fit. Some time later he saw a side view of himself, and thought “Holy crap! Am I a pregnant woman?” when he saw his gut. He didn’t see it when he was looking straight on. I think it’s something we can all relate to in some way. We look at ourselves in the mirror every day – looking good, aging well, hair mostly there, weight up a little but can’t really tell. Then, through some unexpected view of yourself, like in a hotel with a lot of mirrors or on a security camera or on someone else’s photos, you see yourself not through your own eyes of familiarity, but through the eyes of the rest of the world. Damn, I am going bald! Damn, am I that fat!? Damn, I don’t need to pack my bags because they’re already packed right under my eyes! It’s like last week’s familiarity story: You see ...read more
by Adam Zack — May 2, 2018Most everyone has heard the phrase “Familiarity breeds contempt.”I have to admit, I never really thought about what it meant. I used it, but not correctly. Defined, it means: “The more acquainted one becomes with a person, the more one knows about his or her shortcomings and, hence, the easier it is to dislike that person.” Personally, I have found that not to be true. For me, familiarity breeds comfort, trust and mutual caring. But I can see where with some relationships, personal and business, familiarity leads to jealousy, resentment and lack of appreciation – all such negative emotions. So I didn’t even start planning this blog with that in mind. Not at all. I was thinking how familiarity – seeing the same thing every day, like the entrance to your store, the display cases, the restrooms – breeds blindness. See the same thing every day and you actually stop seeing it. It takes real effort to see your familiarity with new eyes each time. And it’s not easy. I get to see lots of stores, and when I see things like dirty restroom vents, old and faded signs taped up crookedly in storefronts or hand baskets that have a year’s worth of grime on them I first wond...read more
by Adam Zack — April 25, 2018It’s great to do well in school. Your parents are proud.You feel good about being on the Dean’s List. You get a big say in what college you attend or what employer you want to work for. You’re well read, and know a lot about a lot of topics. How tall is Mount Everest? 29,029 feet. How deep is the Grand Canyon? 6,000 feet at it’s deepest. Who was the 13th President of the United States? Millard Fillmore, who succeeded Zachary Taylor, who died after getting sick from eating too many cherries. So you hang out with the other smarties, getting good at video games and not so good at going on dates. You’ve learned so much, right? You’re brain is practically bursting with knowledge. Only thing is you haven’t really learned anything. You read the book on how to ride a bike, but you never actually rode one. You read all the self-help books, but haven’t put it into action. Reading all of the grocery trade magazines, going to seminars, participating in share groups and taking trips to see what exciting things other grocers are doing are great – if they are accompanied by action. The smartest people in the business read about and see, but they are more about actually doing. And they are not afraid to fail. ...read more
by Adam Zack — April 18, 2018Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip?
Who was that man?
I’d like to shake his hand.Every single day you are doing amazing things. You help customers, you take care of your family, you make your boss money, you make your co-workers laugh and most of the time you do a pretty good job of keeping yourself happy. Along the way you have made some huge accomplishments. New grab and go meals were your idea. You built spreadsheets that streamlined ordering. You designed marketing materials that are the best in the industry. You came up with the idea to have store events that draw hundreds of new customers every year. You are teaching a new generation how to be a smart buyer who builds and nourishes relationships. You work 12-hour days, 6 days a week when you need to and your reward is knowing that you do a damn good job. You’re not about ego, so knowing that you deliver results, like always, is good enough for you. Now multiply yourself by thousands. Millions even. All those little procedures, innovations, systems, delicious foods and interesting products come from someone just like you who cared enough and believed in thems...read more