Avocados and the Super Bowl

guacamoleThumb2017Over the last few decades, football’s championship game, the Super Bowl, has eclipsed the World Series as America’s favorite sporting event. It’s no longer just a one-day spectacle, but has become a two-week long celebration leading into the Sunday game with lots of partying and overeating. Like most of our celebrations, eating has a large role in this event, particularly emphasizing snack foods like nuts and corn chips. Of course, if you have corn chips, you need something delicious to dip them in. And this is how Super Bowl Sunday has literally become Guacamole Sunday. If you have not already begun planning for the big game (1 week from this Sunday), the time is now to get your retail ducks in a row. Having a tremendous avocado display that also features, lemons, limes, tomatoes, jalapenos and onions is a must! Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Resolutions

2017Can you believe it? The New Year is already upon us. Now that the pressures of the holiday season are behind us, the New Year feels like a welcome relief. Of course, there is one slight pressure typically associated with the New Year – establishing your New Year’s Resolutions. In an effort to take some of this “resolution pressure” off your shoulders, here are a few ready-established produce resolutions that can at least help you kick off the New Year within your work environment. The list below (in no particular order), if implemented, has the potential to enhance the overall well being of your produce department. Read the rest of this entry »

Gaining New Ideas and Strategies

produceboyimageMost artists check out what other artists are up to. The same is true with writers, designers – most of the creative world. Let’s assume that great produce people fall into the same category (very creative people), then it makes sense that there is a need to touch base with the work of your peers. There are truly very few completely new ideas out there. We share, we borrow and we exchange. Be open to what others are doing and allow others to be aware of what you are doing. This is the best strategy for gaining new ideas that will improve your work. Perhaps the most popular method of learning what other produce geniuses are up to is to visit other produce departments. How often do you visit other stores in your area? When you are away on a trip, do you check out the stores in the area you are visiting? Field trips are important! At least once a week it’s vital to take some time and go around and look at what the other stores in your area are doing. There should be three main objectives when visiting another store: 1) look for new ideas 2) do a little price comparison and 3) get a break from your store. Let’s explore these goals in more detail. Read the rest of this entry »

The Care and Handling of Leaf Lettuces

lettuceHandling: Optimal storage temperature is 36 degrees. Make sure and store your leaf lettuces (romaine, red leaf, green leaf and butter lettuces) toward the back of your back room cooler as the front is more susceptible to temperature increases as you go in and out of the cooler throughout the day.

Care: All of the leaf lettuces need prepping! The best way to prep leaf lettuce is to first fill your prep sink with lukewarm water. Begin the actual prepping routine by snipping the butt end clean, peeling off any unusable leaves, wrapping the lettuce in a twist tie and then soaking the head in the sink of water. It’s very important that the water be somewhat warm. When you place the snipped lettuce in warm water, the green actually relaxes and soaks the water in through the freshly snipped end. Once the lettuce is prepped and placed into a 36 degree cooler, the snipped end will close up in the cold temperatures and this locks the water inside the veins of the lettuce and gives it complete hydration, allowing for nice crisp greens! The combination of soaking in warm water followed by storage in cold temperatures creates a complete hydration solution. Read the rest of this entry »

Setting and Achieving Sales Goals

tomatoesTypically, early in the week you will receive your department sales numbers from the previous week. In some cases you may even find out at the end of the seventh day of the week after running a register report if you happen to be working a late shift on Sunday.

How you manage and respond to your weekly sales numbers is a critical part of the job of a produce manager or director. There are basically two approaches to weekly sales reports. One is to eagerly await the numbers, hoping that they will prove to be strong and perhaps you will receive accolades for a job well done. The other approach is to actively participate in the outcome of your numbers throughout the week. Read the rest of this entry »

Receiving and Storing Your Products

chardMost of us in produce feel like we know how to receive and store our product – get it off the truck and into the cooler. And, although that statement does sum up the basics involved, there are a few strategies that when used can save both time and money, as well as give you longer shelf life on your product and remain in compliance with USDA Organic Standards.

Every produce department should have a pulp thermometer that allows you to actually read the temperature of the product that arrives to your dock. With this instrument you will immediately know if there were temperature issues with your product while being transported to your operation. Read the rest of this entry »

How Compelling is Your Produce Department?

peppersIt seems fair to claim that when most of us are shopping, the analytical portion of our brain is in a fairly relaxed state, and for good reason. It needs a break. How often do you enter a retail store and decide “I’m going to study the underpinnings of this shopping experience and discover the nuances of this store’s marketing strategy?” Without going out too far on a limb, I would guess the answer for most of us to be NEVER! We simply take our shopping excursions at face value – what we see is what it is. Knowing this as consumers should make us wiser when we present our own marketing/merchandising strategy to the public. Is your strategy subtle, confusing, or maybe not even apparent; or is it attractive, obvious and compelling? The answer you give to this question is critical for the success of your department. How compelling is your department? When people first enter into the produce section are they so blown away by your product, merchandising, and marketing efforts that they cannot help but to begin shopping, or does your department simply remind your customers of every other place they shop and you are simply convenient for them today? The key to success in retailing is to avoid ordinary! Read the rest of this entry »

Thanksgiving – More Than Just Giving Thanks

thanksgivingimageThursday is the big day, and the food will certainly be flowing. Most of us working in the organic and natural foods industry will see one of our best weeks of sales from this week. We are clearly reminded of the bounty of food that exists in our country. Yes, we are truly fortunate. But sadly, that “we” does not include everyone. Many Americans will not be experiencing the bounty of a Thanksgiving feast. In fact, some Americans will have nothing at all to eat on Thanksgiving Day. Imagine having no food to eat on Thanksgiving. Pretty difficult to imagine, isn’t it? Now, imagine that many of those who will go hungry on that day are children. It’s almost as if your mind doesn’t want to go there. And yet, that is our reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Great Customer Service

customerserviceServicing your customers is ALWAYS the most important thing you will do on any given day. Without customers we have no business. No customer should ever walk into your produce area and find an empty department where there is no sales staff on the floor. If you have periods in the day (even very short ones) where there is no produce staff on the floor, it is nearly impossible to expect that you will maximize the potential of your department. The organic customer tends to be especially well-educated and hungry for information. Read the rest of this entry »

Selling Autumn Produce

autumnproduceAs we move further into the fall months, most produce departments around the country breathe a sigh of relief. The maintenance of the summer soft fruits, melons and ready-to-eat tomatoes are no longer overwhelming the labor budget as such items as winter squash and apples take center stage. Although your department certainly deserves a rest from the intensity of summer product care, it’s important to not have too much of a letdown. There is a tendency to have so much confidence in the popularity of items such as apples, that we turn them loose on their own and don’t always give them the marketing/merchandising support that can truly allow these items to flourish during the Autumn season. Here are a few recommendations for moving forward with your hot Autumn produce items: Read the rest of this entry »