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Embracing the IGA Brand

Author: Charlie Gels

The Independent View

 Charlie Gels

IGA USA International Retailer of
the Year Finalist Perspective

December 15, 2009

IGA will announce the 2010 IGA USA International Retailer of the Year this January. Look to The Independent View in the weeks leading up the announcement to learn more about each of the six Finalists in the running for this coveted award. Today, Charlie Gels of Gels' IGA shares the "best practices" that set his IGA store apart from the competition and strengthen the IGA Brand for us all.

My father started this store in the St. Henry community 60 years ago, and for most of that time, our store has been known as Gels' IGA. Around here—where there are a lot of big box stores but also four or five IGAs within 25 miles of each other—you can really see what the IGA Red Oval means to people. No matter how hard they try, the big box stores just can't win over loyal IGA shoppers.

We recognize how important that red oval is to our business, and that's why we work hard every day to show our shoppers how proud we are to be IGA. When we moved into a larger location in 2004, we made a commitment to go IGA all the way. For us, that meant branding our store IGA in every way possible, but also participating in every IGA program available.

Now here we are six years later, and our entire community has come to depend on the events and sponsorship that are a big part of what we do here. There's nothing more rewarding than hearing your customers talk about how much fun their kids had at the KidsFest carnival this year, or how much they learned during the Hometown Healthy Challenge.

At the end of the day, I think the key to our success is that we embrace the brand in everything we do. That has served us well not just with our local shoppers, but also with the thousands of people who follow the stock car circuit and come here each summer to visit our local race track. These people come from all over the U.S. and even Australia, and they're always happy to see an IGA. You can really see how far the brand reaches when even the Aussies are excited to shop at a local store that reminds them of their IGA at home. They expect that same hometown proud service, and we're happy to oblige.

Charlie Gels
2010 IGA USA International Retailer of the Year Finalist
Gels' IGA
St. Henry, OH
LDC: Laurel Grocery Company