This Easter, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues affect daily life for Americans, South Dakota grocer RF Buche is giving every customer a rose (while supplies last) and $20 store credit from Buche Foods.
“Times are a little tougher now for a lot of South Dakotans, and this is one way we can help stand beside our customers and help,” Buche said in a press release March 27.
Store credit will be distributed in two payments through the Buche Foods mobile app, one the week before Easter and one the week of Easter.
The Buche Foods team has put in extra time to make sure its stores are sanitized and stocked to ensure employees and customers are safe. They are in constant communication with many wholesalers working on sourcing products, product allocation and supply needs while dealing with margin compression and wholesaler price increases. Buche’s management meets every day via phone conference to discuss previous day changes, listen to what their customers are saying, plan product deliveries, discuss product shortages, price increases, wholesaler changes and new ideas that will keep their employees and customers safe.
Chris McFayden, company operations manager, and Buche are in communication before the sun comes up and finish discussions long after the sun goes down. McFayden’s role is gathering all information on what is going on with product shortages, allocations, new suppliers, etc. and then communicate that info to the managers. Buche just finished in person meetings at each of the company’s 13 locations.
“My No. 1 job right now is making sure our people are informed and receive reassurance that things are going to be OK,” he said. “That’s what I am doing on a daily basis.”
With regard to sanitation, the Buche team has been diligent in its efforts.
“We are wiping down door handles, pin pads, check stands, bathrooms and everywhere throughout the day,” Buche said. “All our high touch points are the focus of our cleaning. We are installing sneeze guards and social distancing floor graphics to keep our customers and our team safe. We are going to come out of this sooner than later, and I want all of our customers and our team to be happy and healthy when we do!”
Buche Foods recently started curbside service and delivery for its customers. Each store has different times and days in which they are helping their customers with individual needs. Additionally, the stores also are offering the first hour of every day for the elderly to shop.
“Our team has been awesome,” said Buche. “No matter what our customers need, no matter what changes we have to deal with, our people have stepped up. During recent in-store meetings I just finished, I had to set an example and replace hugs and handshakes with a warm smile. Even though it was difficult for both the employee and I because we have a very close relationship, we have to be socially responsible. Our entire Buche’s team knows our customers and our communities need us right now. They know they are essential, and we will get through this together!”
Price changes always have and always will be a result of supply and demand, Buche said. With restaurant closings and change of operations, the food dollar has changed for customers, which is creating some product supply issues and changes in pricing.
“We are doing our best to keep costs and retails down. We are seeing cleaning products, paper products, toilet paper, eggs and meat prices, especially ground beef, all increase in price,” he said. “Additionally, we are having a difficult time ordering a lot of these items so it’s a dual problem. However, I think we are doing a good job of finding product in a lot of creative ways. For instance, because our grocery wholesaler had an allocation on eggs, we found a restaurant supplier to source the product. We bought eggs in 15 dozen tray pack cases. It’s not conventional, but we just cut the cases down, overwrapped the eggs and sold them as an 18 pack. It’s not pretty, but it’s better than not having eggs for our customers.”
With pricing uncertainly, some grocers have discontinued their advertised prices and well as discontinued their temporary prices (TPRs) and deals. Not Buche Foods.
“We are keeping our advertisement flyer and TPRs and also increased the number of digital coupons we are sending each week,” Buche said. “Times are a little tougher right now, some people are scared. Our customers deserve a break and that’s exactly what we are going to give them.”
The GF Buche Co. is made up of grocery stores and convenience stores along with a Subway, a hardware store and an auto parts store. It has approximately 285 employees.
RF Buche is a fourth generation grocer. His great-grandfather, Gus Buche, started the company in 1905.