The Independent Grocers Alliance honored retailers at the IGA Awards of Excellence Ceremony on Feb. 27 at Area 15 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company.
The Alliance named one IGA USA International Retailer of the Year. The award was bestowed upon the IGA retailer who, based on IGA’s globally applied standards, achieved exemplary excellence in retailing and advancement of the IGA Brand.
Rob Rowe, owner of Rowe’s IGA Baymeadows in Jacksonville, Florida, and six other locations throughout the Jacksonville area received the 2023 IGA USA International Retailer of the Year award. The store’s wholesaler is Merchant Distributors Inc.
“They have a mission that says, ‘I don’t exist unless I’m serving my local community – whatever that is that my community needs. I’m not just making a bet on sales today, I’m investing in my community so that those second and third generations become loyal customers for life.’ And that’s exactly what Rob Rowe is doing,” IGA CEO John Ross said when introducing Rob Rowe, store owner.
Rowe brings in customers for his top-quality stores, which feature large meat departments as evidenced by the volumes far above industry average in meat sales. In addition to being known for high quality offerings, Rowe’s is known for serving locations that competitors will not, which has prevented many food deserts in the Jacksonville, Florida, area.
“With all that we’ve been through in life as retailers, [this award] is quite humbling. We operate against many of the major chains and being an independent, without our main supplier MDI, we wouldn’t be here,” Rowe said in his acceptance speech.
The other eight IGA USA Retailers of The Year listed below received additional honors for their exceptional work in the industry.
- Culture Leadership Award: Joe Campos of Kingstree IGA
- This award commemorates Campos’ leadership in developing a supportive and thriving culture in his store.
- Quality and Value Award: Tate Cox of Cox Foods IGA
- This award recognizes the store’s excellence in quality and value.
- Ricky St. John Taking Care of People Award: John Hallinan of The Richmond Shops IGA
- This award recognizes him and his team for excellence in taking care of people in his store and community.
- Thomas S. Haggai Hometown Proud Award: Rich and Darlene Hoffman of Sky Plaza IGA
- This award recognizes its Hometown Proud commitment to community.
- Innovation Award: Paul, Mike and Tim Matovich of Columbus IGA Plus
- This award commemorates their store’s commitment to innovation.
- Produce Innovation Award: Jimmy Perkins and Jasper IGA Team of Hometown IGA
- This award commemorates his store’s excellence in produce innovation.
- Thomas C. Spires Local Leadership Award: Mike and Sharlene Spires of Spires IGA Supermarket
- This award commemorates the Spires’ commitment to local leadership.
- People Development Award: Tyler Trask and Tanya Murray of Granite Falls IGA
- This award commemorates Trask and Murray and recognizes their excellence in people development.
International retailers also gathered at Area 15 after nearly three years to accept their awards.
IGA’s International Retailers of the Year were also honored during the event. International winners from 2020, 2021 and 2022 received recognition at the event as well, since the group had not gathered with global retailers since the COVID outbreak in 2020.
“Without a doubt, our IGA 2023 International Retailers of the Year and previous year winners are among the top performers in the industry, and it is truly awe-inspiring to witness the radiance of their entrepreneurial drive,” Ross said. “Furthermore, we are thrilled we can give everyone a proper recognition in person.”
2020 IGA Caribbean International Retailer of the Year
- Darin Barrett of Epicurean Fine Foods in Antigua
- Wholesaler: UNFI
2022 IGA South Africa International Retailer of the Year
- Shabeer Bux of Save You Powertrade IGA in Pietermaritzburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal
- Wholesaler: Unitrade Management Services
2020 IGA Australia International Retailers of the Year
- Michael Shakes of Fresh St. Market IGA in Queensland, Australia
- Wholesaler: Metcash Food
2021 and 2022 IGA Australia International Retailer of the Year
- Tyrone and Leanne Jones of SUPA IGA – Mt Cotton in Queensland, Australia
- Wholesaler: Metcash Foods
2023 IGA Australia International Retailers of the Year
- Peter Lee, Matthew Saunders and James Cameron of SUPA IGA – Ritchies IGA Maclean in Queensland, Australia
- Wholesaler: Metcash Food
“From the way these retailers are merchandising local products, to evolving towards targeted digital marketing while still maintaining the charm of local ownership, these businesses are not only diverse, but also highly innovative and creative, constantly coming up with new and exciting ways to make their stores both entertaining and engaging,” Ross said.
“They are essentially think tanks of fresh and unique ideas that reflect the pride and ingenuity of their local owners. However, despite their individuality, there is one thing that unites them all: a steadfast dedication to their customers and communities.”
The Independent Grocers Alliance was founded in 1926, bringing together independent grocers across the U.S. to ensure that the family-owned local grocery store remained strong in the face of growing chain competition. The alliance includes more than 6,200 Hometown Proud Supermarkets. IGA has operations in 46 of the U.S. states and more than 30 countries, commonwealths and territories.