Some Good Grocery News
In these challenging and uncertain times, we all need a reason to smile. With a nod to actor John Krasinski’s SGN (Some Good News), WGB presents five good things that happened in grocery this week.
1. H-E-B Honors Class of 2020
On Twitter earlier this week, San Antonio-based H-E-B said it will hold a graduation celebration on YouTube live at 7 p.m. May 20 for all high school and college class of 2020 grads. “Be it high school or college, the class of 2020 worked hard to earn their diplomas and we’re celebrating them!” says the tweet. The grocer also teased appearances by “special guests” at the ceremony, but specific details have yet to be released.
Grocery stores, which typically rely in no small measures on school-age part-time workers, haven't overlooked the life events that have passed them by in the pandemic. In late April, a Winn-Dixie store in Slidell, La., held mock graduation ceremonies for its staff workers who would otherwise miss canceled ceremonies at their high schools.
The Winn-Dixie workers got a special commencement address given by 45-year Winn-Dixie associate and store manager Jimmy Scott. In his speech, Scott inspired the associates by encouraging them to focus on their goals and continue working hard to lead the next generation.
2. Senior Shoppers Score Free Groceries
Taking a page from the book of actor and director Tyler Perry, who paid for customers’ groceries at 20 Winn-Dixie stores and 44 Kroger locations during designated senior shopping hours last month, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan surprised some lucky Steel City-area shoppers with free groceries this week at two Giant Eagle locations during senior hours.
Local shoppers at The Waterfront Giant Eagle and South Hills Market District were told at checkout that no payment was necessary and that all costs were paid in advance by Sullivan.
“We have been so proud to see the generosity of the Pittsburgh community throughout this challenging time,” Sullivan said. “My wife, Kate, and I wanted to do something for those at higher risk for the illness. We know that most seniors live on fixed incomes and have to worry more about getting out in general, so it is our hope that we were able to give them a little relief during a stressful time.”
Giant Eagle, a longtime Penguins corporate partner, offers a private shopping hour for seniors 60 and older from 6-7 a.m. Monday through Wednesday at participating locations. The Sullivans asked Giant Eagle to target two stores with higher foot traffic during these designated hours.
3. An Early Thanksgiving for ShopRite
ShopRite’s new #EssentialThanks campaign honors healthcare workers, first responders and supermarket associates around the country who are serving communities through the COVID-19 crisis. The campaign offers everyone an opportunity to show their gratitude by posting a thank you note to COVID-19 front-line workers, either by directly uploading it towww.EssentialThanks.com or by tagging #EssentialThanks on Instagram and Twitter.
For each message of thanks people post, the Keasbey, N.J.-based grocer said it would donate $1 to regional food banks for COVID-19 relief efforts.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on what it takes to keep our communities safe and healthy every day and in times of crisis,” said Joe Colalillo, chairman and CEO of Wakefern Food Corp, the cooperative wholesaler owned by ShopRite operators, in a statement. “We ask you to join us in thanking our store teams, warehouse workers, truck drivers, healthcare and all front-line workers for the incredible job they are doing each day by going to work to support and serve their communities.”
All thank you messages should be posted between April 20 and June 30. Wakefern Food said it would donate up to $500,000 during the event, with money going to food banks in Wakefern’s trading area.
4. Masking Agents
The discounter Lidl U.S., which recently began expanding on Long Island, N.Y., through its purchase and subsequent conversions of Best Market stores, made a neighborly effort this week in delivering 40,000 masks to emergency personnel in Nassau and Suffolk counties—among the most impacted areas in the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis.
Lidl, based in Arlington. Va., currently operates Lidl stores in West Babylon, Plainview, Huntington Station and Center Moriches, with new stores in East Meadow, Oakdale, East Northport, Patchougue and Lake Grove expected in the summer.
5. Dierbergs Spreads Good Cheers
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the closure of in-store salad bars across the country, grocers have gotten creative with how to reinvent the space. A Dierbergs Market in Warson Woods outside St. Louis wins the prize for most “spirited” reconfiguration—the store has converted the salad bar to a “booze buffet,” reports the Riverfront Times. The stainless-steel wells that previously held salads, toppings and dressings are now filled with 99-cent mini bottles of adult beverages.
The belly-up-to-the bar photo was posted to Facebook by Jonathan Frederick of Polite Society and The Bellwether.
The latest Winsight Live with Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert explores Benjamin Lorr’s book, “The Secret Life of Groceries,” which offers a humorous look at the industry with a dark edge; what Ahold’s vision for FreshDirect is after acquiring the rival; how an online farmers market is helping consumers and farms stay connected; how 7-Eleven plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050; how Costco’s journey through the pandemic has differed from other retailers; and more.