Welcome to the first installment of our 2023 Retailers of The Year profiles.
The Retailer of the Year awards are the highest honors the Independent Grocers Association (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 Spires IGA Market, Rowe's IGA Baymeadows, and Kingstree IGA thrive as independent grocers serving their communities.
Mike & Sharlene Spires | Spires IGA Market | Lake Butler, Florida
Left to right: A Spires IGA Market sign highlights the four generations of owners; Mike and Sharlene Spires.
For four generations, the Spires family has catered to their customers. And as the oldest business owned by the same family in Florida — over 132 years — the store has adapted to plenty of change.
They moved from Midway to Lake Butler, Florida to be outside a new railroad stop, making the store an efficient stop for ordering and receiving goods. Through the years, the store’s offerings have adapted to what the community needs, from work boots and fabrics as a general store to a large deli and produce area as a grocery store.
Current owners Mike and Sharlene Spires have doubled the produce department, introducing more locally grown and organic produce to address the current wants and needs of their shoppers. Their deli features a large farm-style table to allow the tight-knit community to better socialize. And the Spires know socializing—their social media efforts were nominated for a best practice award in 2020 and their Facebook follower count is over three times the town’s population!
Thanks to the local farm relationships, local bakers and cake decorators in the bakery, and well-trained butchers in the meat department, Spires IGA Market reigns as a true Local Equals Fresh, hometown grocer, four generations in.
Rob Rowe | Rowe's IGA Baymeadows | Jacksonville, Florida
Left to right: Rowe's IGA exterior; Rob Rowe.
Great prices every day, a best-in-class selection of ethnic products, and high-quality perishables. This is the go-to-market strategy of Rowe’s IGA Supermarkets, which have become destination stores for shoppers.
Store Owner Rob Rowe brings in customers miles away for his top-quality stores, which feature some of the largest and best-merchandised meat departments in the industry, as evidenced by the volumes far above industry average in meat sales. Pair that with value-add programs, such as home meal replacements, cut fruit and vegetable programs, and even on-site popcorn kiosks, and it’s no surprise that many regions around the Jacksonville, Florida flagship store have asked Rowe to open a store in their community.
In addition to being known for high quality offerings, Rowe’s is known for serving locations that competitors will not, which has prevented many food deserts in the Jacksonville, Florida area. The Rowe’s team believes that all shoppers deserve a top-quality grocery store in their local community, and they have delivered on that belief.
“Often, his stores serve as the only place for warm food and clean water for several days while large chains are closed [due to storms],” John Snipes, new business development manager with MDI, the stores' licensed distribution center.
Joe Campos | Kingstree IGA | Kingstree, South Carolina
Left to right: Kingstree IGA exterior; Joe Campos
A great shopper experience starts with a happy, well-trained team, and Kingstree IGA Store Manager Joe Campos knows it. He is dedicated to employee development, investing in both training and employee interests and skills to ensure they are placed in the right departments and roles. Communication plays a key role in his management, with daily huddles that focus on sales, labor, shrink, promotions, price checks, and more.
The management team involves department leaders in conversations around goal setting and merchandising, further empowering the team for success.
That empowerment has led to successful programs in-store, online, and within the community. From using the PA system and social media to highlight sales, offers, and promotions to partnering with community organizations to give back, employees are invested in the business and dedicated to its success thanks to Campos’ leadership.
Look for more 2023 IGA Retailer of the Year profiles in The IGA Minute in the coming weeks.
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