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    Congratulations, Outstanding Independents!

    Piggly Wiggly and Redner's Warehouse Markets nab the 2012 Outstanding Indepndents awards

    Every February we honor those independent grocers that have gone above and beyond to set themselves apart from the crowd with our Outstanding Independents awards.

    This year, we have two categories of awards. Charleston, S.C.-based Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. has been chosen as our self-supplied Outstanding Independent Retailer for 2012.

    Aiming to deliver an excellent shopping experience with quality products at competitive prices, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. doesn’t just consider customer service a part of its mission -- it’s the single most important ingredient that differentiates “The Pig,” as it’s affectionately known, from its competitors.

    The impassioned approach to deliver exceptional guest service that reflects The Pig’s culture, known as the “Pig Way,” boils down to three elements: Put guests before duties, always apply the “Ten Foot” rule (when an associate is within 10 feet of a customer, make eye contact and extend a warm greeting), and always use the three simple tools as follows: offer a warm greeting, ask an engaging question and extend a warm closing.

    You can read all about why we’re “Big on the Pig” in the cover story of our flagship magazine, Progressive Grocer, written by PG Editor-in-Chief Meg Major.

    The winner of our Wholesaler-supplied Outstanding Independent award is Reading, Pa.-based Redner’s Warehouse Markets. Richard Redner, the company’s president and CEO, sums up his philosophy with a quote that has become one of my all-time favorites: “I’m only as good as our worst employee.”

    Through a mix of financial incentives and opportunities for growth within the employee-owned regional retailer, Redner’s has created an environment in which even his “worst” employee is truly outstanding. Those of you who bump into Redner at The NGA Show in Las Vegas this month may catch the remnants of a suntan from a recent trip to Cancún, yet another of his company’s many employee incentives.

    Top performers from all ranks of the company get the opportunity for an all-expense-paid trip with a guest to a new destination each year. While there are a few company get-togethers during the trip, the events are completely optional in light of Redner’s goal to provide attendees with some well-deserved R&R for their efforts throughout the year.

    Redner’s will be featured as the cover story in our February issue of Progressive Grocer Independent, which has left the nest and will be a bi-monthly standalone publication starting with this issue.

    In the February issue you’ll see some new categories of content. Among the most noticeable is the addition of content from KeHE Distributors LLC, as result of a new content partnership between PGI and KeHE’s OnTREND magazine. Every issue of PGI will feature insightful expert columns on category trends and a wealth of new product information that will help independents boost their basket sizes and enhance shopper loyalty.

    Additionally, each issue will include a page or two of industry news relevant to the independent grocer.

    Finally, there will be a new section, “From the Independent Grocer Network,” which will highlight the hottest topics being discussed on IGN — a custom online social network we built specifically for independent grocers and the wholesalers that serve them. Featuring blogs, discussion forums, and multimedia photo galleries and videos, IGN provides a platform for independent grocers to connect directly with their peers.

    I’d like to extend my personal congratulations to both retailers for all that they do to raise the bar for in¬dependents across the country. We’ll be presenting our Outstanding Independent awards to Piggly Wiggly and Redner’s at the Creative Choice Awards to be held during The NGA Show, which will take place Feb. 12-15 at the Mirage in Vegas.

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