Local grocery stores offer shoppers unique experienceWritten by Paige Aten | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Chain stores are everywhere. It is difficult to find a town that doesn’t contain at least one WalMart, Costco or other big-box store.
Even though many people try to buy local and shop at locally owned stores for items like groceries, it can be difficult to know where to turn.
There are, however, several choices in the Toledo area for shoppers who want to buy local.
Food Town has two locations, in Toledo and Temperance, Mich., which are owned locally. Sam Jabro, the owner of those locations, said his stores put a strong emphasis on keeping the operations local.
“We like to communicate with the local community. Customer service is what we try to focus on most,” he said.
The store’s two locations concentrate on fresh meat, produce and baked goods. A wide selection of organic and specialty foods are also featured.
Jabro said the stores try to bring in the best quality products and do as much in-house as possible.
“Everything is delivered fresh daily. We try to buy so we can pass deals onto customers,” he said.
He also said the stores strive to keep overhead low, which in turn allows for lower prices for customers.
Jabro said he got into the local grocery business because he didn’t like seeing other local stores close.
“We got into it because we don’t want mom and pop stores to go away. Every community should have a local place to shop,” he said.
Scott Reddish, store manager for both Walt Churchill’s Markets locations in the Toledo area, said buying local is important.
“Buying local has a vast effect on our local economy, from the farmer’s field to our local stores. Our area is also one of the most fertile areas in the country for a lot of varieties of fruits and vegetables and the quality is hard to beat,” he said.
Reddish said Churchill’s focuses on local and specialty foods. He said all of the salads sold are made fresh in-house, which is uncommon in larger chain stores.
The store also employs specialty managers for the cheese, wine and beer departments. All of the meat sold in the stores is USDA Choice or above and homemade cookies, breads and desserts are featured in the bakery.
Reddish said many large chain stores are limited in what they can offer their customers; at Churchill’s that is not the case.
“Most of the larger chains are managed from the corporate headquarters and only carry what the corporate buyers allow them to. We are allowed to carry what we want, what our customers demand and are able to get their requests in less than a week’s turnaround,” he said.
Debra Crow, corporate communications manager for The Andersons, echoed the sentiment. Customer service is a key element that separates locally owned businesses from larger chain retailers.
“Our connectivity to our customers and service level is a big differentiator, as well as our support and connection to the many local services in our community. We have a number of products and services connected to other local businesses and suppliers, such as House of Meats and Tony Packo’s,” she said. She also said a number of the food products sold in the store are manufactured locally.
Crow said buying local helps keep funds local, which benefits the entire community.
“We have a very large number of employees that we are blessed to have the opportunity to employ, and in turn, they earn an income that gets cycled into our economy and supports our local community,” she said.
With an emphasis on customer service, freshness and support of the local community, locally owned grocery stores throughout the area are contributing to the effort to keep Toledo’s business in Toledo.