Company Blog


by Adam Zack — May 3, 2023

All of our stores have stories – great stories to tell.

Some of the greatest stories are fish stories. Tales from your grandpa how he hiked up 20,000 feet to a secret lake with just a pole and a bag of jerky to fish in this remote spot where the fish were rumored to be six feet long and could swallow your arm if you got too close. Dadgummit if he didn’t land that beauty, which fed the whole family for two winters. There was a lot of exaggeration, but there was a day when grandpa went fishing (5,000 feet, and he drove there) with his pole (and a six pack) and fished all day and caught some nice sized fish (12-14”), which in fact were tasty and did feed the family (one meal, except for baby Matt, who didn’t like fish yet). The point is not the fish, it’s the story. All of our stores have stories – great stories. All they need to get the customers attention is to be told in a way that is interesting and compelling. Recently I was at a presentation by Jim Donald, former CEO of Starbucks, Haggen (he brought it to life and it was sold to the group that quickly wrecked it), Extended Stay America and others. He is known for his ability to turn failing companies around quickly and significantly. His first rule is “Have a fish story. Something you can tell your customers that ...
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by Adam Zack — April 26, 2023


No matter what comes her way, she’s happy and cheerful.

I work with a woman named Miriam. She’s going to be 40 years old in June. She’s a single mom, and also a grandma a couple times over. Her life hasn’t been easy, and she makes a 30-minute commute to come to work every day. The thing I love about Miriam is that every day, no matter what comes her way, she’s happy and cheerful. She’s respectful, takes great pride in her job cutting up fruits, vegetables and making juice. One time recently she accidentally threw the juice blade into the trash, resulting in us having to spend $250 for a new blade. She was so apologetic, and she offered to pay for it herself. Not a chance. It was an accident and accidents happen. There’s no way to be mad at Miriam. This week, as she smiled and was working away, I asked her, “Miriam, how did you get to be so nice and happy?” She thought about it for a minute and replied, “That’s the way God made me.” I’m not particularly religious, but I felt the effect of her faith carrying her through life, providing just enough and letting her happiness radiate outward and positively impact everyone around her. Next time I feel like I have something to complain about, I’m going to try and be more like Miriam.

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Great Choice!

by Adam Zack — April 19, 2023

They were words of affirmation and approval by someone “in the know” that made me really feel great about my selection.

Did 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 about my selection. Upon reflection, she probably 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 yo...
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by Adam Zack — April 12, 2023

“Kindness, in one word, is a business model, an approach to strangers and a platform for growth.”—Seth Godin

I’ve been trying to sleep in later on Sundays. And it’s mostly been very successful! So I woke up Sunday morning at 9:00 and checked my phone, seeing I had a text from my youngest daughter Alyssa that said: “Made me think of you 831” (831 is code for I love you. Eight letters, three words, one meaning). Attached was a link to a post on the Swiss-Miss design blog/studio titled Kindness Scales.KINDNESS SCALES“It scales better than competitiveness, frustration, pettiness, regret, revenge, merit (whatever that means) or apathy. Kindness ratchets up. It leads to more kindness. It can create trust and openness and truth and enthusiasm and patience and possibility.Kindness, in one word, is a business model, an approach to strangers and a platform for growth. It might take more effort than you were hoping it would, but it’s worth it.”– Seth Godin, Author, Entrepreneur, TeacherIt was one of the nicest, most satisfying compliments I have ever received in my life. I fully believe that kindness is perhaps the greatest trait that a successful leader can have, and i...
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by Adam Zack — April 5, 2023

“But most of the time, we cruise through life being totally unremarkable.”

Remarkable: notably or conspicuously unusual; extraordinary. Worthy of notice or attention.Name one person that you know is remarkable. You must know one that makes you think “Damn, that person is special.” Being remarkable is not easy. To a small minority, it comes naturally. But most have to work at it. It takes a commitment to excellence, determination, integrity and perseverance. Being unremarkable is easy. You just blend in. Last Sunday my wife and I were at this taco and beer restaurant. They were busy, and I had to wait in line to order. When the girl took my order and I paid, thanked her and she thanked me, I thought I bet even if I were to come back in half an hour she wouldn’t remember me. I was totally unremarkable from any other customer. Usually, at least when we get a paper check at a restaurant and it’s time to sign and leave a tip, we write Thank You!! on the bill to express our gratitude and make a small gesture to be remarkable. But most of the time, we cruise through life being totally unremarkable. I’ve had experiences in the past w...
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Caring vs Turnover

by Adam Zack — March 29, 2023


As the owner or the manager you have to sincerely care.

Retail powers the U.S. economy. 29 million people work in the retail business, which represents roughly 20% of the 140 million jobs in America. Retail generates nearly $2.6 trillion in sales.With that much effect on the economy, why is the turnover rate in retail, especially grocery, so high? According to Daily Pay Retention Rates the turnover rate in the grocery industry is 100%. That’s right there with fast-food. Ouch. In fact, according to Money Magazine, some of the worst places to work in the country are grocery stores. Kmart (are there still Kmarts? I guess a handful), Family Dollar and The Fresh Market all make the top 20 Worst Places to work. Why is that? Poor communication, low wages, poor benefits, boredom and the idea that retail is not a job for educated workers contribute. It’s just not sexy. You work holidays and weekends, early mornings and late nights. Doesn’t sound like much fun on paper. But I think the number one reason that turnover is high is that some of those companies just don’t care. It costs approximately $3,600 to replace one supermarket cashier (turnover cost), so if you care about money (and who doesn’t, really?) success can be helped by focusing on your turnover. The...
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Forgive Yourself

by Adam Zack — March 22, 2023

Regret has a very sticky handle.

We’ve all done some incredibly stupid things. We say things we regret. We do things we wish we could take back. We even think things and catch ourselves trying to wipe that thought from our memory. In a lot of ways, we’re our own toughest critic.Golf lets you take a mulligan. Kids games get do-overs. In tennis you get a second serve. Even track and field gives a restart for jumping the gun. But real life makes you live with your mistakes and if you’re halfway smart you learn from them and are not like hair conditioner – rinse and repeat. But sometimes the gravity of your mistakes weighs very heavily. Guilt, remorse and even grudges seem to become heavier by the day, which turns into weeks and years. You can’t let go. You can’t put it down. You can’t forgive yourself. I was watching the sometimes funny “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Jerry Seinfeld recently on the train ride home and Jerry’s guest was Michael Richards, the actor who played the iconic Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld. If you don’t know Kramer, Google him now. About 12 years ago Michael was performing stand up comedy in L.A. and was heckled about not being funny. Instead of ignoring it or going with it like good comedians do, he got pissed and called t...
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The Word Habit

by Adam Zack — March 15, 2023

Actually, I ….

Words matter. I used to know a guy who said “Actually” after almost everything I told him. Actually, I still do know him but I hardly see him. I’d tell him about a new food that I thought was really good and he’d say “It was really good, actually.” I’d tell him about a movie or TV show, and he’d say “Actually, I really liked it.” As if he expected my recommendation to be wrong and surprisingly, it was right. I knew another guy who every time I told him something good about anything, he’d reply with “Yeah, I know…” I’d mention a sports fact or something, and I’d get “Yeah, I know…” I think he must know everything. “Honestly” is another response that gets to be a habit. Does anyone think if you don’t start with the word “honestly” you’re lying the rest of the time. I know that these are ticky tacky little peeves, but I do think that every word you say matters in some way. A good listener also hears themself and when we get in the conversation habit, some of those words lose meaning.

Read More – Mastery

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The time it takes to do it right

by Adam Zack — March 8, 2023

Dozens of great ideas happen every week.

I have a maintenance man at my store named Jose Avila. He’s an extremely hard worker, dedicated, trustworthy and will do anything it takes to help the store. He often takes on too many tasks, and I’ll ask when he’s going to get something done and the answer is often manana – tomorrow. It’s turned into a good natured joke – everything will get done tomorrow.Everyone is just so busy. It seems that especially in the grocery business that constantly something comes up that gets in the way of your To-Do list and what you planned for today gets pushed back to tomorrow.The dominoes fall and your monthly and weekly plan gets screwed. Procrastination, distraction and disorganization don’t help, but it’s the consistency of the unexpected that really messes with our planning. How many times has someone asked you to do something for them and when you ask when they need it, the answer is “Well, umm, yesterday. But ASAP will have to do it.” It’s impossible to put out your best work when you’re rushing to meet a deadline that has passed. The pressure to produce something that is “just fine” and that doesn’t allow for contemplation, review, revision and polishing often produces ho-hum results. And when the ...
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Who Matters

by Adam Zack — March 1, 2023

Business relationships that don’t at least partially align with your core values need to be examined closely.

You lead by the way you live. I love that saying. It’s like the [true] cliche. “You can’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk.” As a leader, what you do matters and is closely watched and scrutinized by your peers, employees and associates. You can’t initiate a healthy lifestyle program for your company while you are supersizing your Big Mac combo and burning through a pack of cigarettes a day. Leading by the way you live gives you credibility and integrity. And integrity is inspiring and contagious. We have to apply that integrity to the companies we do business with as well. Business relationships that don’t at least partially align with your core values need to be examined closely. After all, you are partners, and good partners always have an interest in each other’s success. It should always be a matter of pride that you do business with suppliers and firms that make you successful. You should be able to brag about it. The day that you would rather not disclose a business relationship for fear that your customers would [correctly] not approve is the day you need to find a new partner.

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