Local cheese, milk, and ice cream...oh my! Local honey, olive oil, and balsamic vinegars...Mmmm! Baked goods, alcohol, and even beard oil...the list of local items available at Lake Region IGA in Hawley, Pennsylvania goes on, and on, and on.
In fact, that list is so long that it won the IGA store "Best Local Presence" at The Rosies Awards, the industry's first ever awards event that celebrates and recognizes online shopping excellence and presented by the eCommerce platform Rosie.
“The Rosie Awards celebrates and rewards the craft, creativity, and excellence among independent grocers as they passionately pursue their eCommerce initiatives nationwide," says Nick Nickitas, Rosie's founder and CEO.
That passion is front and center at Lake Region IGA, especially from Project Manager Irene Cooper. “This award means the world to me as I have dedicated the past two years of my life to forging new relationships with local purveyors," Cooper says. "As my job was switching gears to bring in more local products, I have grown a real passion for shop local, shop small."
Cooper explains what makes Lake Region IGA's local goods stand out. "We cultivate relationships with our local purveyors better than anyone else. We prove how shopping local and shopping small is not only better for the community, but can increase our store profits as well. Customers will seek out IGA because they know we support the community," she says.
Award winners participated in a virtual event on Thursday, December 17, 2020 where they shared their expertise in their respective categories with other retailers, and Cooper has advice for other independent retailers about investing in local partnerships.
"Every time we forge a new partnership with a local company, we do a radio ad about it and social media. It creates hype and people come into the store looking for the product," she says, adding that their eCommerce platform allows them to boost products in the search results, making local products come up first. "For example, when a customer searches for honey, they would get the local honey products first," she explains.
Cooper also advises retailers to offer multiple options of the same product. "Don't be afraid to bring in two of the same local products," she says. "They actually compliment each other and do not compete with each other. You are just offering your customers more choice," adding that Lake Region IGA offers multiple local coffees, honeys, and maple syrups from different purveyors.
Retailers wondering what local options are out there to expand their offerings can take a look at the long list of local products Lake Region IGA currently stocks, including:
- Calkins Creamery local cheeses
- Creamworks Creamery local milk and ice cream
- Black and Brass' coffee and tea
- Moka Origins' coffee
- Tuttle honey
- Lukan's Farm Resort honey
- Ghiggeri's olive oils and balsamics
- Shemanksi and Nebzydoski's maple syrup
- Heaven Scent Candles
- Mount Pleasant Herbary's soaps, teas, and herbal salves
- Anthill Farm's organic CBD pre-rolls (smokable), organic loose CBD, CBD salves, oils, tinctures, CBD matcha, and turmeric tea
- Auraville Hemp Farm CBD tinctures
- The Alpine Wurst & Meat House's meats
- Beach Lake Bakery pies, brownies, and granola
- Kaizen Snacks' nut snack products
- Lox Company lotions, beard oil, balms, and hair pomade products
- Rowe's corn (in season)
- North of the Border Fireworks (in season)
- Seasoned Fireword's bundled firewood
- Living Harvest Farms' hydroponic basil
- Bialecki Farms Hydroponic lettuces
- Wallenpaupack Brewery beers
- Yuengling Brewery beers
- Lion's Head Brewery beers
- Nimble Hill Brewery beers
- Antler Ridge Winery wine
- Capra Collina Winery wine
- Maiolatesi Winery wine
- Rutledge local eggs
- And more!
The Rosie Award was just icing on the cake for Cooper and the team at Lake Region IGA. As a store in a resort town, they're dedicated to providing a positive, customer-centric experience to loyal year-round locals and seasonal visitors alike. That means delivering what various types of shoppers want. "Consumers care about where their products come from," Cooper says. "They want to know the products they eat are not full of pesticides and they want to know the people who own the companies are honest." Lake Region IGA's long list of local goods offers an award-winning solution to their shoppers.
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