“Last June, we hired a company I’ve described as ‘professional listeners,'” Wiley said. “These listeners talked to our customers as well as customers from other stores. They formed focus groups. They listened to what grocery shoppers liked and what they didn’t like about supermarkets. Our response to all that listening is just beyond those doors.”
“It’s no secret that products like fruits and vegetables are better when they’re sourced locally and not shipped hundreds or thousands of miles,” Wiley said. “Some grocery stores identify a product as ‘local’ as long as it’s shipped from anywhere east of the Mississippi. We think local is a little closer to home than that.”
Wiley says his family business buys greens from south Georgia through the Atlanta Farmers Market in the spring and, in the summer, the company gets strawberries and peaches from fellow Hall County business Jaemor Farms.
“We get beans, tomatoes and melons from farmers in surrounding counties,” Wiley said. “Our best-selling honey is produced here in Gainesville by Berry Wright. We’ve just added Sweet Acre Wines from (neighboring) Lula and LNB Beers, brewed in the former Chicopee mill plant. Other supermarkets probably can’t buy corn from a local farmer who’s iced it down in the back of his pickup truck, but we can. That’s what local means to us.”
Wiley urged the crowd, after perhaps not noticing “anything unusual” upon first entering The Market, to take a closer look.
“In our produce department alone are two unique areas—our Tomato Bar and our Herb Garden. Yesterday, we counted 21 different varieties of tomatoes on our Tomato Bar.”
Around the corner from the Tomato Bar is The Market’s clip-your-own Herb Garden.
“If you need a few bay leaves for your spaghetti dinner tonight, go to our Herb Garden and clip exactly what you need right off the plant. You can’t get fresher than that unless you grow your own.”
Wiley considers ‘fresh’ as The Market’s most important descriptor. He referred to freshness as the grocer’s “obsession.”
“Our fresh meats are cut here and packaged here with no injected gas to give the appearance of fresh. All the red meat in The Market is graded Certified Angus Beef. We believe Certified Angus Beef, or CAB, is the most consistently flavorful and tender of all the beef available. We even choose Certified Angus for ground beef.”
In addition, the store includes the deli area’s FreshBar because calling it a Salad Bar “just doesn’t do it justice,” Wiley said.
“Our deli team has washed, diced and chopped all kinds of fruits and veggies for you. If you prefer to add a little protein to your salad, we’ve got lots of options. And if chicken is your preference, our deli features all-natural, antibiotic-free Springer Mountain Chicken, grown and processed right here in north Georgia by Fieldale.”
J&J Foods operates another store in Gainesville, which is approximately 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, at 1075 Jesse Jewell Parkway SW. The company was founded in 1976 by Wiley’s parents, Arrie Mae Wiley and the late Johnnie Wiley. Arrie Mae cut the ceremonial ribbon alongside her son Wednesday.