By: Scott Kelch, Save A Lot Retail Partner, Eastern Ohio
I’ve been in grocery for most of my career. I’ve seen a lot of things change during that time – new technology and new products. But the one lesson I learned early on that has really been a driving force for me as a Save A Lot Retail Partner is the philosophy of “people work for people.” What does that mean? Well, it’s pretty simple. We all work for someone. Some might look at me as an entrepreneur and say “you work for yourself,” and they’d be right. I do work for myself and my family. It’s one of the great things about being an entrepreneur.
But I also work for every customer in the community I serve. I currently own and operate the Save A Lot in Barnesville, OH. We’re a small town about an hour and a half southwest of Pittsburgh. With a population of about 4,200, my store is one of only a handful of grocery stores selling fresh produce, meat cut daily in store and a good selection of local, national and private label products. When you live and own a business in a small town like Barnesville, you quickly learn the important part you play in the community. Our store is both a place where families can get fresh, high quality food to put on the table every day, as well as a source of good jobs for friends and neighbors.
In fact, one of my passions is watching my team grow, both personally and professionally, and I make a conscious effort to find ways to invest in my people. When the Barnesville Save A Lot opened in 2005, I worked hard to retain several key employees who are still with me today. I identified their talent and have worked on ways to challenge, praise and promote them whenever I can. By seeing and recognizing what they bring to the store, and of course by offering competitive pay and bonuses, we’ve created a high performing team that is a win-win for our employees, customers and business.
Besides bringing in products my customers love, I also listened to them when they mentioned needed a greater variety of fresh produce. I worked closely with vendors to ensure the produce selection and quality was the best in the area. I also made the decision to put the produce closer to the customer by moving it from the back of the store to the front, so it’s the first thing customers see as they enter. As a result of this, my produce sales grew 23% overall just by listening to my customers. Once I saw that success, I made the strategic decision to merchandise produce by the deli to make it even easier for customers to grab it there as well. After making that move, my produce sales of those items near the deli grew by 83%. All of this goes to show that when you listen to your people – whether it be employees or customers, they will come through for you. It’s why I feel so fortunate to serve my community each and everyday as their hometown grocer.
At the end of the day, it’s the mutual support in the community that keeps me doing what I do. I believe in the power of community and the great things that happen when people work together. I see it on a regular basis in my store: school and church groups coming in to stock up on items to help feed kids or those in our community, sports groups coming in to grab a snack on the way to the big game, or an older couple coming in to do their weekly shopping with us because they know we have the freshest produce, along with the best prices in town. I believe it takes all of us working together to make good things happen for others, especially in our hometowns.
Scott Kelch is the owner and operator of one Save A Lot location in Eastern Ohio.