by Greg Ferrara / president, National Grocers Association
A lot of folks were dealt a double whammy this winter – bone-chilling cold plus pandemic-driven restrictions on gatherings and dining out.
Perhaps more so than ever before, Americans are ready for some relief and are patiently (or impatiently) waiting for the sun to come out, temperatures to rise and nature to start re-emerging from beneath the ice and snow.
Meanwhile, virus numbers are improving while the vaccine rollout is expanding, offering hope for another step or two toward normalcy.
As a fan of barbecue as well as the great outdoors, I know all too well the thrill of tossing off the covers of hibernation to get back out onto the patio or into the backyard with family and friends. That also means firing up grills and smokers. And that’s a signal for independent community grocers to lead the way in offering guidance for outdoor gatherings.
“Offer help with recipes and make sure you listen to their needs,” one grocer advises in a post on NGA’s Retail Group Facebook page. “If we do our job, it will be a successful summer.”
To be sure, social media is a great source for examples of how to engage your shoppers. And grocers aren’t shy about sharing ideas in the works for the spring and summer selling season.
Ribeyes, briskets and tenderloins are great, especially when they come with farm-to-fork provenance. But they’re even better when supported by a produce department stocked with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables procured from local and regional growers.
It’s an opportunity to tell stories that inspire confidence in your brand as well as creativity in the kitchen.
Being ready for spring doesn’t have to be all about food – grocers can play a role in helping folks spruce up those outdoor spaces, too. For example, I’ve seen independent community grocers using social media to promote their selections of seeds to help those gardens grow.
And while it generally doesn’t take place outdoors, spring cleaning is symbolic of renewal – and being extra clean certainly isn’t a foreign concept these days. Why not take a page from this Facebook playbook: Drive excitement in your center-store laundry aisle with a sweepstakes for a washing machine.
Be the leader in your community to get folks out of the pandemic doldrums so we all can leverage the outdoors for good health, good eating and good living.
Spring is working its way up to being the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Independent community grocers can and should be the beacon to demonstrate how to enjoy life safely and smartly.
Weathering the storm
I want to give a special shoutout to all the retailers, wholesalers and suppliers impacted by the extreme winter weather that recently hit Texas and other areas of the country that aren’t accustomed to such a deep freeze.
Social media is filled with stories of grocers taking charge in waylaid communities to make sure folks got essential goods, even though the stores themselves may have been without power, water or other requirements of routine commerce.
Such an emergency occurring amid the pandemic is layering crisis upon crisis. Once again, members of our industry have shown their dedication to serving their communities in their darkest hours.
The sunshine, both literal and figurative, will be most welcome this spring.