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Mollie Stone's, a chain of nine supermarkets in the San Francisco Bay Area, received Unified Grocers’ 2012 Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award at the wholesale grocery distributor’s Expo food show on June 19 in Long
The Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award, named after a former chairman of the board of Unified Grocers who is nationally recognized as a retail visionary, is an honor given annually to an independent retail grocer or grocery company that is a leader and innovator in the retail grocery industry. The award recognizes retailers that, by their practice and example, have consistently demonstrated initiative, creativity and leadership within their businesses and, in the process, have inspired others to think and act creatively and with passion in the grocery field. To be eligible, retailers must be — or have been — a member of Unified Grocers or one of its predecessor companies.
This is the eighth consecutive year that Unified has presented the award to an outstanding independent retailer.
In presenting the award, Al Plamann, chief executive officer, Unified Grocers, said that in addition to being an outstanding progressive retailer, Mollie Stone's thrives because its owners — Dave Bennett and Mike Stone — have a simple four-word recipe for success: growth, innovation, commitment and passion.
"The passion toward customers and retailing is clearly evident as you walk through their stores," Plamann said. "Every aisle is neat and immaculate, produce is stacked perfectly and also in a way that accents its bright colors; the meat, seafood and bakery departments feature artwork-like displays of mouthwatering products that are literally begging to be purchased; and a fully-stocked wine department includes well-trained experts and helpful information that enables you to make the right selection or pair it with the food you've purchased. Innovation and quality are central to the success of Mollie Stone's and that's why their customers come back to their stores year after year after year."
Early on, Bennett and Stone made a commitment to healthy foods, including natural and organic products, long before it was mainstream. They did it because it was "the right thing to do," Stone said.
In accepting the 2012 Ben Schwartz Award, Bennett and Stone also thanked their employees — many of whom attended the event — and gave them credit for much of the success the company has enjoyed over the years.
In other news, the independently owned supermarket chain was also honored as one of the Outstanding Specialty Retailers by the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade at the Summer Fancy Food Show on June 18.
Founded in 1922, Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States. Unified and its subsidiaries, which generated approximately $3.8 billion in sales during fiscal 2011, offer independent retailers resources to compete in the supermarket industry.
Al Plamann, far right, presents the 2012 Ben Schwartz
Retail Grocery Visionary Award to Dave Bennett, far left,
and Mike Stone, third from left. Also pictured is Ben Schwartz.