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Independent Grocers Helping West Texas Weather Challenges 

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Independent grocers in West Texas have certainly weathered some challenging times as of late. From supply chain and e-commerce issues to inflation, labor and financial constraints, grocers in the Amarillo, El Paso and Lubbock regions have been dealing with a significant amount of upheaval. 

Chad Collen, director of retail experience/sales for Grocers Supply, said the situation has been compounded by the limited amount of labor and financial resources available for independent grocers. This, in turn, has made it more difficult to navigate supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and severe weather events, including droughts, floods, heat waves and freezes. 

“As has been in the case across the country, inflation has impacted food prices, affecting profit margins and affordability for West Texas store owners and customers,” Collen said.

Despite these ongoing challenges, he added that size and flexibility have given West Texas independent grocers the nimbleness to succeed in this region where others have failed. 

“Community focus and adaptability position independents to meet hurdles such as these head on. Independent grocers have an advantage in providing a unique in-store experience and personalized customer service that you cannot find at the retail giants,” Collen said.

“Our independents are agile and can adapt quickly to changing circumstances. They have the distinct ability to adjust offerings, sourcing and marketing strategies on demand to meet local needs.”

Customer centric

A close look at the customer base in this region shows about 40 percent of shoppers in West Texas are Hispanic. 

Savvy grocers are proactively adjusting their offerings, store layout and product assortments to meet the needs of this growing population. For instance, many independents are stocking Hispanic brands, creating multi-cultural sections and offering authentic ingredients and produce.

“Successful grocers also understand our Hispanic population is not homogenized but includes a variety of cultural backgrounds,” Collen said. 

As the population diversifies, an increasing number of Hispanic meat markets have been opening around the Abilene, Amarillo and Lubbock areas.

Miller’s Meat Market & Smokehouse in Llano is an example of a retailer that seems to understand its customer base, according to Collen. The store features specialty groceries, frozen items, produce and a 30-foot meat and deli counter filled with authentic Hispanic favorites. Its freezer packs and party trays are also popular. 

The store’s owners are heavily involved in the community. “Miller’s helps supply local charity needs, offers curbside pickup, has online ordering for the meat department and does a great job with their food service department,” Collen said.

La Super Economica, he added, is another standout retailer in the region. With locations in Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock and Plainview, it also caters to the growing Hispanic population. The stores offer a wide selection of items ranging from produce, fish and meat to prepared foods, groceries and beer that appeal to Mexican and Central American tastes. 

“You are able to find products in their locations that you will not see in the conventional grocery stores,” Collen said. 

“These are just two of many examples of independents in West Texas that leverage their community focus, flexibility and personalized approach to remain competitive in an ever-evolving industry.”

Read more market profiles from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Carol Radice

Senior Content Creator

Carol joins The Shelby Report with more than 25 years writing for B2B magazines that cover the drugstore and supermarket industries. A Rutgers graduate, she earned her B.A. degree in journalism and mass communications more years ago than she cares to admit. She is thrilled to be working with such an accomplished team and to share her knowledge of the industry with Shelby’s readers.

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