Get To Know 2024 IGA Retailers of the Year: Part I

Jan 31, 2024

Welcome to the first installment of our 2024 Retailers of The Year profiles.

The Retailer of the Year awards are the highest honors the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) bestows upon its retailer members. They are presented annually to grocers who have best provided leadership and excellence in their communities.

In this installment, learn how the leadership from KJ’s Market, Maurer’s Market IGA, and Crop’s Fresh Marketplace have been able to serve as outstanding independent grocers serving their communities. Return to this space in the coming month for profiles on the additional six honorees.

Debbie Jacques Malone | KJ's Market | Greenwood, South Carolina

three people posed together with award certificate
IGA CEO John Ross, Retailer of the Year Debbie Jacques Malone, W. Lee Flowers VP Operations KJ's & IGA Shane Holliday.

Debbie Jacques Malone has been employed with W. Lee Flowers, KJ's licensed distribution center, for three years, joining the team when the wholesaler acquired BI-LO Stores from SEG. She has over 38 years of retail experience, holding many positions over the years including fresh department manager, customer service manager, and store manager. 

She shares that experience and knowledge with her team to help them grow in their roles, developing and cross-training employees to keep her store staffed and operating efficiently. Malone’s leadership and passion for employees is evident in how her team speaks of her, noting that working with her is like “working with family.”

Malone and the KJ’s Market team are a valued part of the Greenwood community, offering the Bags for Hunger program; a hydration drive for two local high schools in which guests purchased water and Gatorade to donate to their favorite high school team; cake walks; Trick or Treat night; and snow cones for Guest Appreciation Day. KJ’s Market also partners with the local Pathway House and many churches in the area.

W. Lee Flowers named the Greenwood location Store of the Year for District #3, earning the title for consistent conditions and outstanding execution of merchandising plans in all departments.

Jeff & Kristie Maurer | Maurer's Market IGA | Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Group of grocery employees pose with award certificate
The Maurer's Market IGA team pose for a photo with their ROTY certificate.

Jeff Maurer began his grocery career 50 years ago as a bag boy at his local independent retailer Byerly’s in Minnesota. In 2016, he took ownership of Zinke's Village Market in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, which had operated under the Zinke family for three generations. Now named Maurer's Market IGA, Jeff and his daughter Kristie are co-owners of the store.

Maurer has been a loyal supporter of the IGA brand for over five years. As part of the IGA National Retailer Advisory Board, he attends and speaks at meetings and webinars to help strengthen brand awareness and help fellow retailers navigate the grocery industry. His willingness to share insights has proven valuable to independent retailers and suppliers alike. 

Recently, Maurer served as a keynote speaker for a National Grocers Association (NGA)/Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) webinar to provide examples and knowledge of tactics used that can be helpful during difficult economic times. Maurer also created the Maurer’s Market IGA Round-up Program, where transactions at the register are rounded up, chosen by the customer, and the charity of the month receives a check from Maurer’s Market IGA.

John & Chad Cropper | Crop's Fresh Marketplace | Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Group of five people pose with award certificate
From left, Bozzuto's Inc. Business Development Manager Mike Fraioli, Crop's Fresh Marketplace Owner John Cropper, Crop's Fresh Marketplace Director of Operations Chad Cropper, IGA CEO John Ross, Bozzuto's Inc. VP of Sales Steve Capanna.

The Cropper family’s experience in grocery started as an IGA back in 1953. They currently have second and third generation family members operating the current location.

Crop’s Fresh Marketplace has been active in participating in multiple IGA programs, including the IGA national digital ad, the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, and the quarterly IGA marketing program to promote themselves throughout the community.

They also incorporate the IGA branding philosophies of Local Equals Fresh and Hometown Proud throughout the store along with their local community and charities. In addition to partnering with local farms and vendors, they host neighborhood events on site such as car shows, Girl Scouts Trunk or Treats, car wash fundraisers for churches and youth organizations, and food drive shopping events.

The grocers are progressive in embracing modern technology, social media, and digital marketing to help differentiate their store. They have introduced new physical store features, including new kitchen equipment, a state-of-the-art salad bar from Picadeli, and an in-house smoker run by the prepared foods department. Furthermore, Crop’s offers a strong assortment of the IGA Exclusive Brands private label throughout the store to aid value-seeking customers.

Look for more 2024 IGA Retailer of the Year profiles in The IGA Minute in the coming weeks.

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