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by Adam Zack — February 28, 2018

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Less is more.

We have all read something that as we are reading we think “How long is this guy going to go on?  Get to the point already.” And then we skip ahead to the end, or sometimes just stop reading altogether out of boredom or informational overload.  So many things – movies, books, blogs – go on for much longer than they need to because the author or director is satisfying an ego need by thinking of himself instead of his audience.  It’s the same with advertising and promotions. The key is to identify the story and tell it succinctly before your reader skips to the end – or doesn’t start at all – because it just looks like too many words. Ads can turn into diarrhea of the mouth – you just want them to shut up for a minute. Still reading or have you skipped to the end? What am I trying to convey here? Less is more, especially when it comes to telling the story of your store and your signature products.  Get to the point, make it interesting, then shut up.

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Call It A Career

by Adam Zack — February 21, 2018

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Empower them to make decisions and lead.

According to Fortune Magazine, Wegman’s Food Markets are the second best place to work in America. Fortune Top 100 Companies Wow! One of our own is very near the top in this era where all these tech companies have perks like stand-up treadmill desks, company chefs, work–from-home options, free massages and free child care. Two of our other brethren made the top 100 – Publix at #47 and Nugget Markets at #70. It’s a big achievement in a time when finding, and more importantly retaining good employees, is extremely challenging. I was speaking to a store owner in Northern California who has had to stop events such as weekend barbecues and catering (two profitable promotions) because he just can’t find the employees to execute the program. That says something about the tight job market and maybe something else about the company. Many years ago the grocery business could be a career. You could start at the bottom in maintenance or a courtesy clerk and work your way up, getting pay increases, good benefits and promotions. You could be a department manager or even store manager and earn a good living to provide for your family. My dad did it...
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Rumor Has It

by Adam Zack — February 14, 2018

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The root of rumors is gossip.

Did you hear that XYZ market is closing? Yeah, I heard it from a friend who dates the assistant to the assistant manager. She says that business is slow and Amazon is killing them so the owner is closing. Can you believe it? The thing is, it is 100% not true. One of my favorite comedians Tom Segura tells the story of his dad telling him that Tommy Lee Jones is gay. (Click here for the story Tom Segura Tommy Lee Jones Story) He goes on to tell everyone he meets that Tommy Lee Jones is gay. One day someone calls him out on it, and asks where he heard it. He says his dad told him. Turns out the dad didn’t even remember where he heard it, but that didn’t stop him from telling people. The rumor mill is a powerful son-of-a-gun. Once it gets started it can go like wildfire and when you deny the rumor and try to put an end to it, you are the one who looks like a liar. It’s brutal. The root of rumors is gossip, one of the evil deadly sins. It’s something that is just to titillating to keep to yourself, no matter how preposterous it sounds. I remember back in the day the rumor was that in Mexico the workers peed into the Corona because they knew it...
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The Superstar

by Adam Zack — February 7, 2018

Jennifer Aniston

I was walking down the wine aisle of my store in San Diego last week and Jennifer Aniston stopped me and asked me for a recommendation on a good, value priced Pinot Noir. Wow, Jennifer Aniston! And she was even prettier in person (and shorter, too, but all those Hollywood types are.) We chatted about what her favorite wines (Meomi? Really? Someone had steered her wrong there, but who was I to tell her that) and what she was serving it with. Turns out Gwyneth and Brad, Ed Sheeran and his fiancée and Courtney Cox were all joining Jen and Justin for the weekend at an Air BnB here in San Diego. She’s going to need a lot of wine, and it turns out Justin likes his bourbon, so I saw some Eagle Rare in her future. We picked out some nice bottles (she made sure she got 6 so she could get her 10% discount), then I escorted her to the meat department, where Alex cut her some beautiful prime ribeyes and Chris packed up 10 of his fantastic crab cakes. After helping her with more supplies (Toilet paper Jen? Air BnB’s are usually stocked up), I took her to the checkout, got her a cup of complimentary coffee and packed her groceries in reusable shopping bags (no charge, I wanted Jen to be photographed carrying one of my bags so it would...
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Culture Club

by Adam Zack — January 31, 2018

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The culture of caring is painfully absent.

Your company’s culture starts at the very top. There’s no way around it. If the boss is a moody a-hole, the company vibe will be that of moody a-holes. Think about places you’ve been to and consistently get indifferent, or even terrible service. Convenience stores, Walmart, Sears, the DMV all have reputations for marginal – at best – service. In businesses that rely on repeat customers the emphasis is often not on making those customers want to return, it’s on improving the bottom line. The culture of caring is painfully absent. And it’s not just customer service that flows down from the big boss, it’s cleanliness, organization, efficiency and more. A messy and disorganized office of the CEO gives employees no reason to be organized and neat. I was fortunate enough to go to Littlefield, Texas last week and spend some time with the folks at Lowe’s Markets. They operate 155 stores mainly in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. It’s a lot of stores to maintain a culture of caring. And it’s not just the customer service at store level that I was impressed with, it was the feeling of respect that proliferated the office buildings I visited and people I met. The grocery business is notorious for going cheap wh...
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The Big Things

by Adam Zack — January 24, 2018

A truly great man or woman.

A truly great man or woman.

Most of our lives are shaped and defined by the little things we do and say. The everyday unacknowledged kindnesses, the way we treat others, doing the right thing when it’s not the easy thing. People of high character and integrity do millions of the little things that add up over a lifetime and define them as an exceptional human being, just as the a-holes of the world are ignorant to those same things. But what about the big things? We all have major, often life-changing events that depending on how we react to them can define us even more as a truly great man or woman. Chesley Sullenberger would have been an accomplished and mostly anonymous pilot if he hadn’t responded the way he did to land a jet in the Hudson River. Rosa Parks would have been mostly unknown if she hadn’t refused to give up her seat on the bus. John @@@@@ would have been another brave soldier if he hadn’t shown the courage and character he showed on Guadalcanal during World War II. These are all extreme examples for us regular folk, but how we react to big events can make us a hero or despised. If you ever had to close a business or just a location, how you handled it either defined you as making a necessary...
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Penny for Your Thoughts

by Adam Zack — January 17, 2018

Success or failure is literally built on pennies.

Would you stop to pick up a penny if you saw it on the ground? How about a nickel? Quarter? Everyone I know would stop to pick up a dollar, that is certain. But back to that penny… I was thinking about it when I saw a penny in the parking lot yesterday. I picked it up, put it in my pocket, forgot to take it out when I put my pants in the hamper and now it will probably come out in the washing machine or dryer and be clanking around while the dryer turns. You know the clack-clack-clack of copper on the metal dryer drum as it tumbles around. I should have just left that penny on the ground. It struck a nerve, though because grocery success or failure is literally built on pennies. In a business where a good net profit is 5 cents on the dollar, that penny that I didn’t pick up reduces my profit margin 20%. My dad is a old school grocer to his soul. I remember about 40 years ago he saw one of his supervisors had some product that had been mismanaged and was on the ground. It would have to be thrown out. He went up to that supervisor, took a dollar out of his pocket and threw it on the ground. “You see that? That’s the same thing you are doing with that [whatever the product was, I can’t remember.] Point made. O...
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by Adam Zack — January 10, 2018

It’s capitalism 101

I’ve written before how everything we do in business, every day is ultimately about the money. We may love our job, our co-workers and our customers, but when it all shakes out if the business isn’t profitable, there is only a matter of time until the cash to provide the arena for the things we love about our job runs out and there is no place left to love. We work hard, innovate and serve and in return our customers reward us with payment so that they can prosper from us. It’s capitalism 101. In this age of technology, however, there is a new troll going through the grocery and food industry looking for photos that you may have used in an eblast, a website and on social media that they own the rights to. Once their algorithms find that image, no matter how innocently it’s used, the information goes to their troll law firm who sends of a demand letter for thousands of dollars and threatens imminent legal action if payment isn’t made – conveniently by credit card – within a short period. It’s really a form of legal extortion. We don’t like it, it’s not fair, and it sucks. But it’s not going away. It will only get much worse as these firms see that we get worried about lawsuits and want to just make i...
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Inspire Thyself

by Adam Zack — January 3, 2018

2018 is the ideal time to look inward for inspiration.

I’m sitting here waiting for some type of divine inspiration for a blog topic and I’m getting nothing. Zippo. Zilch. Nada. Then I get the encouragingly prodding email from DW reminding me to remember the old blog and my writer’s block becomes intense. The pressure starts to build and my neck tightens up with the pressure of a ticking time clock tightening its talons around my neck. Ouch. Then the answer comes in another reassuring email that only a wise master can deliver: “In Reality, everything is spontaneously manifesting the inherent destiny of its essence; it doesn’t need any external help to do this.” That sounds like something a philosopher might say. In fact, some of you (and me) are thinking “What the hell does that mean? This isn’t a secret college masters exam, is it?” Well it did make me think, and my brain and heart (no courage required this time) followed the yellow brick road of translations and came up with: “Everything you were looking for was right there with you all along” from the Wizard of Oz. Inspiration to do, to create, to change and to affect change is really right inside of us. We look for new ideas to grow our business and often the search ...
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If You Had to Choose

by Adam Zack — December 27, 2017

Would they choose our store?

Do you ever play out the scenario “If you had a gun to your head and you HAD to choose…” followed by something like one food to eat the rest of your life, or one album to listen to, or which kid is your favorite? Kind of like Sophie’s Choice*, but without the death consequence for the child you didn’t choose. When it comes to shopping, a loathsome chore in my book, I used to have discussions with my two daughters about shopping and my strong aversion to malls. I told them that I could be happy for the rest of my life with only two stores – Jensen’s (our grocery store) and Target (for clothes, entertainment, housewares). Home Depot might be a close third. The scenario would never play out in real life, but it got me thinking about the question that if someone had a gun to my head and I could only choose ONE grocery store to shop at for the rest of my life, what would it be? All things would have to be considered – prices, selection, quality, service. No longer would I be able to get paper towels and foil at Costco and potstickers at Trader Joes and fresh meat at Jensen’s. It would be all in one til death do us part. The more interesting part of the question would be what...

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