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Cecil K’s, Coborn’s Take Top NGA Creative Choice Awards

Cecil K's winning screen at The NGA Show.

The National Grocers Association (NGA) revealed this year’s top winners of its Creative Choice Awards in the Marketing and Merchandising categories during The NGA Show in San Diego this week. The Outstanding Marketer and Outstanding Merchandiser titles are the top awards in the Creative Choice Awards contest.

Outstanding Marketer was awarded to Cecil K’s Hometown Market, located in Holton, Kansas, for its “First Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Contest” video, which showcased the store’s support of the community and raised charitable donations in a friendly competition. Four Christmas trees were decorated in the center aisle of Cecil K’s by four local businesses, each choosing a local charity to benefit in the contest. The trees were voted on by the public from Nov. 25-Dec. 24 using customers’ Cecil K’s receipts. Prizes were sponsored for first place—fourth place in the contest by Cecil K’s and other local Jackson County businesses.

Outstanding Merchandiser was awarded to Coborn’s, based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, for its “Food For A Cause Campaign,” which worked with vendors and guests to donate to local food shelves. Guests donated $24,745 and $19,745 worth of non-perishable food to local food shelves. In addition, Coborn’s donated $85,000 to fund additional charities and non-profits that support children and fight hunger and 3,000 turkeys to local food shelves the week before Thanksgiving.

“Independent grocers are implementing amazing campaigns and initiatives each and every day in their stores that set them apart from their competition. Congratulations to both Coborn’s and Cecil K’s for their innovative ideas and the excellent work they do for their communities,” said Peter Larkin, president and CEO of NGA.

The Creative Choice Awards honors the best merchandising and marketing programs in the grocery industry that have increased and positively impacted overall store sales or provided a unique benefit to the community. More than 500 entries were submitted from supermarket operators throughout the country. Entries were judged on the criteria of creativity and effectiveness by a panel of 30 industry experts.

The contest, sponsored by Kellogg’s and Unilever, featured 10 different categories with two winners for each: one entry from a 1-15 store operator and one entry from a store operator with more than 15 stores. Marketing campaigns and merchandising events occurring between Dec. 1, 2017, and Dec. 1, 2018, were eligible for submission.

The full list of 2019 Creative Choice category winners includes:


Category 1: Connections Through Social Media and Digital Marketing

1-15 store winner: NuNu’s Cauliflower Boudin, NuNu’s Markets

15-plus store winner: $100,000 Treasure Hunt, K-VA-T Food Stores

Category 2: Connections Through TV Radio

1-15 store winner: Cecil K’s First Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Contest, Cecil K’s Hometown Market

15-plus store winner: Coborn’s Delivers TV Spot, Coborn’s Inc.

Category 3: Connections Through Print

1-15 store winner: Fresh Grocer Local Vendor Sale, Burns Family Neighborhood Market

15-plus store winner: ShopRite Celebrates Chinese New Year, ShopRite

Category 4: Integrated Marketing Campaign

1-15 store winner: App Launch, Macey’s

15-plus store winner: Festival Foods Fresh is Art Integrated Marketing Campaign, Skogen’s Festival Foods

Category 5: Grand Opening or Remodel

1-15 store winner:  Doc’s Country Mart Grand Re-Opening, Doc’s Food Stores

15-plus store winner: PriceRite Innovation Stores, PriceRite/Wakefern


Category 6: Single Manufacturer Event

1-15 store winner: Nutrition Smart and Ancient Nutrition Presents: Dr. Josh Axe & Jordan Rubin, Nutrition Smart

15-plus store winner: Roche Bros. Launches One Mighty Mill into Retail, Roche Bros. Supermarkets

Category 7: Store Event

1-15 store winner: Prime Rib Dinner for 2!, T.A. Solberg Inc.

15-plus store winner: Shop ‘n Save FY ’19 Free Turkey Promotion, Shop ‘n Save

Category 8: Public Service or Charitable Cause Event

1-15 store winner: Pets Need Food Too, Walla Walla’s Harvest Foods

15-plus store winner: Food for A Cause Campaign, Coborn’s Inc.

Category 9: Center Store/GM/HBC

1-15 store winner: DLM Savings on the 7th Anniversary Sale, Dorothy Lane Market

15-plus store winner: ShopRite Celebrates Chinese New Year, ShopRite

Category 10: Perimeter Departments

1-15 store winner: Turkey Red Wheat: Our Field of Dreams, Dorothy Lane Market

15-plus store winner: Chicken Shack, Coborn’s Inc.

About the author



An 11-year employee of The Shelby Report who writes for and about food. In previous lives, she worked at a police department in Texas and an amusement park in Arkansas. She also was a newspaper publisher for more than a decade. Not sure which of those qualified her for this job.

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