The Local Checkout: Independent grocers honored by industry associations; family-owned grocer extends kindness to others

With an eye in the sky Potash Markets' CEO garners praise; IGA honors Isom IGA owner Gwen Christon and Timmons Market lends helping hand.
Potash Market
Illustration: WGB staff / Shutterstock

The Local Checkout

Welcome to The Local Checkout, a new weekly Winsight Grocery Business column about independent grocers from Editor Diane Adam that is published each Friday.   

Grocery stores are like people—they come in all different shapes and sizes. And here at The Local Checkout, I’ll be taking a closer look through a wide lens of independent grocery stores. Because just like people—they all matter.  

A grocery with a view 

With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lake Michigan, Chicago-based independent grocery store Potash Markets sure has bragging rights. A grocery with a view, Potash Markets’ 175 E. Delaware location is located on the 44th floor of the John Hancock—one of Chicago’s tallest buildings. Open only to residents and businesses in the building, the store offers uncompromising views of the Windy City. Who would ever consider online grocery shopping as an option? 

Potash Markets, which has been in operation since the 1950s, has two other locations in the Windy City—devoid of the bird’s eye view of the city’s skyline—but equally as important for the business. 

CEO Art Potash is well-recognized in the Chicago grocery space and highly admired by his peers. Earlier this year he was awarded the Robert B. Wegman Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence by FMI—The Food Industry Association at its Midwinter Executive Conference. 

“Art Potash is an admired, creative, committed leader and friend in the supermarket industry who is always willing to go the extra mile in support of FMI, the food industry, and his colleagues,” Jennifer Hatcher, FMI’s chief public policy officer and SVP of government & public affairs, told The Local Checkout. “He offers valuable perspective on advocacy, particularly regarding the challenging swipe fees issue as a trusted confidante of the Senate Majority Whip and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin. He also offers important insight as a successful urban entrepreneur in spite of tremendous challenges—recognized this year by his peers as the Robert B. Wegman Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence recipient. Most importantly, he is a loyal friend and advisor to so many colleagues across the country, always willing to help when asked regardless of the request.”  

Small but mighty 

The Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) last month honored a host of members, including Gwen Christon. She was awarded the Spirit of IGA Award during The NGA Show for her resilience to feed her community after her store was devastated by Kentucky floods last year and for her determination to reopen to further serve the community.  

“Whenever you’re out in this job and you bump into someone that’s doing something cool or fun, in that moment you say, ‘I would love to be able to recognize what you’re doing,” IGA CEO John Ross said of these winners, including Christon. “Because it’s not just an award for what they did; it’s an opportunity to be recognized publicly.” 

In the small, unincorporated Kentucky community of about 1,400 people, Isom IGA is a pillar of the town and the only full-service supermarket for miles.  

"You think of it as a store but it's actually a gathering place for everyone," Christon said, according to IGA. "This is where friends meet friends. They come here not only to buy groceries but to socialize and spend time together. The store is my home away from home, and the employees and community are an extension of my family." 

Grocery goodness: 

This week’s shout-out to an independent grocer that deserves the hashtag #KindessCostsNothing goes to Timmons Market, a family-owned grocery store serving Rapid City, South Dakota. The independent grocery store aided a family whose home was destroyed after a fire. “We will accept donations at the registers by rounding up your transaction to the nearest dollar amount, or you can choose to donate any amount you’d like,” the grocer posted on it social media page.   

Thanks for reading The Local Checkout. Got an indie grocery story news item you think I missed? Email dadam@winsightmedia.com 



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