Giving Compass’ Take:
• The New Food Economy reports that Kevin Kelley is trying to save the traditional American supermarket from online grocery delivery services by helping grocers prepare for a 21st-century marketplace.
• Why are local grocers still important to our communities? What role can they play in food deserts?
• Here’s an article on the recent closures of American grocery stores.
In 2014, Rich Niemann, president and CEO of the Midwestern grocery company Niemann Foods, made the most important phone call of his career. He dialed the Los Angeles office of Shook Kelley, an architectural design firm, and admitted he saw no future in the traditional grocery business. He was ready to put aside a century of family knowledge, throw away all his assumptions, completely rethink his brand and strategy — whatever it would take to carry Niemann Foods deep into the 21st century.
“I need a last great hope strategy,” he told Kevin Kelley, the firm’s cofounder and principal. “I need a white knight.”
Part square-jawed cattle rancher, part folksy CEO, Niemann is the last person you’d expect to ask for a fresh start. He’s spent his whole life in the business, transforming the grocery chain his grandfather founded in 1917 into a regional powerhouse with more than 100 supermarkets and convenience stores across four states. In 2014, he was elected chair of the National Grocery Association. It’s probably fair to say no one alive knows how to run a grocery store better than Rich Niemann. Yet Niemann was no longer sure the future had a place for stores like his.
Read the full article on saving America’s grocery stores from online shopping by Joe Fassler at The New Food Economy.
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