Friday, November 21, 2008

Stew Leonard's - Award Winner

Stew Leonard's is one of a handful of retail grocers that made the 2008 Fortune Best 100 Place to Work list. The company also has a tendency to win other awards.

According to Retail Wire, Stew Leonard's was named "Retailer of the Year" by the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association.

The balance of the story goes on to provide a nice summary of the factors that help to make the company such a success.

These include:

  • Communciation with customers and employees

  • Design and layout

  • Providing a fun environment in which to work and shop

  • Commitment to quality

  • Innovation

The balance of the article is highlighted below:

Summing up the grocer's success, Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO, told
the Stamford Advocate, "Out of everything my dad said about being a retailer -
and if I had anything to say about it - God gave us two ears and one mouth.
Listen, listen, listen to the customers and always be accessible."

The Norwark, CT retailer has stores in Norwalk, Danbury and Newington
in Connecticut as well as one in Yonkers, NY.

In a review of the chain on the Modern Baking magazine's website,
Heather Henstock wrote, "the store is unlike other supermarkets in nearly every
way, from its store layout to its animated merchandising techniques."

The store's fame comes from its innovative in-store marketing, which
includes a barn-like wood decor, a winding path for shoppers instead of
straight, parallel aisles, free samples galore, employees dressed as farm
animals, petting zoos, and animatronic singing animals perched above the

"Animatronics are positioned throughout the store, bringing attention
to each department and creating a fun environment for shoppers," the editorial
director of the magazine wrote. "At the Newington store, a parrot sings in
produce, milk cartons dance above the dairy case and a life-size cow greets
customers with a 'moo' as they enter the store."

But Ms. Henstock said, "All the fanfare would only be a gimmick" if not
for its commitment to fresh foods, including an on-site dairy and bakery. Unlike
traditional supermarkets that sell an average of 50,000 items, Stew Leonard's
stores carry only 2,000 items, according to the company. However, 80 percent of
those items are fresh foods, either prepared from scratch in the store or
brought in daily.

"We love people, we love food and we love fresh food," founder Stew
Leonard Sr. told the New Britain Herald at the opening of its last 113,000
square foot store in Newington in May 2007. "Basically, it's fresh stuff and
that's what differentiates us from our competition."

While Stew Leonard's may be known for its meat selection, customers can
also find a wide variety of other items as well, including a sushi bar, olive
bar, ready-to-eat meals including pizza, barbecue and salad.

The Connecticut Retail Merchants Association said Stew Leonard's earned
the "Retailer of the Year" award based on several factors, including customer
service, employee relations and community outreach.

The chain is known for being an innovator in the grocery industry, Mike
Berger, editor of Griffin Report of Food Marketing, told the Stamford Advocate.

"In my opinion, they're the Disneyland of supermarkets," he said.

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