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    Above and Way Beyond

    Meet the winners of PGI’s Outstanding Independents, which personify excellence in multiple classes.

    Successful independents don’t merely look to solely best the competition. They look to create consumer experiences that truly define them as standouts.

    In the February issue of Wired magazine, Google CEO Larry Page admitted worrying “that something has gone seriously wrong with the way we run companies… It’s always about the competition… How exciting is it to come to work if the best you can do is trounce some other company that does roughly the same thing?”

    This is the philosophy behind Page [m] and Google’s [m] leaps into new enterprises on a regular basis: First search, then email (offering much more storage than any other provider), then Android mobile OS, and now things like self-driving cars and wearable computers. The folks at Google are always thinking beyond merely what the competition is doing. Way beyond. It reverberates throughout its admirable culture, which mandates its top-flight engineers to use 20 percent of their time to develop new projects of their own design. No surprise to learn that it’s helped spur on some of the company’s most innovative products, tools, and software features.

    That’s one thing I’ve noticed about successful independents; they don’t merely look to solely best the competition. They look to create consumer experiences that truly define them as standouts. Even amongst a crowd of unique operators, truly successful independents possess an “it” factor that makes their customers bypass five other stores just to shop there.

    One look at the winners of our evolving Outstanding Independent Awards program are shining examples of just such visionaries.

    Take downtown Pittsburgh-based Marty’s Market, for example, which became the first grocer to run a point-of-sale system from an iPad. Or San Francisco treat, Bi-Rite Market, which sources three-quarters of its products from local producers and harvests herbs and honey on its store’s urban rooftop. Then there’s Philly’s The Fresh Grocer, which takes its mission to plant full-service supermarkets in food deserts way beyond with beautiful shopping experiences in neighborhoods which haven’t had a supermarket to call their own in decades.

    There are many examples of such über retailing excellence within the independent grocer community, which provided the impetus for expanding our Outstanding Independents platform this year with more diverse nominating categories, broken down into three overall winners, and winners for specific categories, as follows:

    Overall Winners
    Single store: Bi-Rite Markets, San Francisco, Calif.
    Multi-Store: Roche Bros., Wellesley Hills, Mass.
    Community-Based Independent: Tyler Myers IGA, Clinton, Wash.

    Store Design
    The Fresh Grocer, Philadelphia, Pa.

    Greatness in Green
    Single Store: Kinsley’s Market of Tannersville, Inc. (ShopRite)
    Multi-Store: Harvest Market IGA, Ft. Bragg, Calif.

    Community Outreach: Great Scott Community Markets (Fresh Encounter, Inc., Findlay, Ohio)

    Single Store: Marty’s Market, Pittsburgh
    Retailer/Wholesaler collaboration: Ferguson & Hassler Inc., Quarryville, Pa., and Associated Wholesalers Inc. (AWI), Robesonia, Pa.

    Single Store: Windham IGA, Windham, Conn.
    Multi-Store: B&R Stores, Lincoln, Neb.

    Rodhe’s IGA, Millersburg, Ohio

    As in year’s past, we will honor these independents, which have truly set themselves apart and clearly deserve to claim their status as “outstanding,” during an award presentation and reception February 11 at the National Grocers Association show in Las Vegas.

    Congratulations to one and all, and keep on innovating!

    [email protected]

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