Supermarket receives national recognition
Susanville supermarket was chosen from among three IGA USA retailers for having achieved exemplary excellence in retailing and advancement of the IGA Brand in the industry, the IGA Alliance and his community.
Stewart said the one of the people up for the award was a person who teaches at the IGA institute and the other wrote the assessment program for the company.
When Stewart was announced as the winner, he said he was very surprised. He also said he accepted the award on behalf of the employees, customers and community.
In addition, Stewart will be honored along with fellow IGA Retailers of the Year from other countries at the 2009 IGA Global Summit Awards Gala on March 15 in Sydney, Australia where Stewart said IGA has its second largest share.
Having never been to Australia before, Stewart said he is excited about the trip. He also said he is also looking forward to meeting other retailers from around the world.
According to a press release from IGA, Susanville Supermarket sponsors many community events, including the Susanville Symphony, the Fishing Derby, youth soccer and basketball leagues and local school events.
Stewart himself was a founding member of the Susanville Economic Development Commission, a Lassen County Planning Commissioner and a Lassen Career Network Business Associate of the Year.
“Having visited Susanville Supermarket IGA myself during the judging process, I can truly say that the character and personality of this award-winning store is summed up in two very important words: Hometown Proud,” said IGA USA CEO Mark Batenic said. “Rick took home IGA USA’s top retailing honors because his dedication and commitment to his customers and community is obvious in everything he does. We are honored to have him as a member of our IGA retailing family, and commend him for setting such an incredibly high standard for IGA retailers around the world.”
Stewart said without a doubt the award was a result because of the 60-member Susanville IGA staff.
When Batenic and Executive Vice President Doug Fritch visited the store, Stewart said they walked around for about two hours to form their own opinions.
Afterward, the men talked to Stewart and said the merchandising was spot-on, but they also commented on how the well the staff interact with one another.
According to Stewart, the men said (good staff relationships) are not something that can be faked and is a real testament to a well-run organization.
The store is a building with four walls, but without the people, Stewart said there really isn’t any personality.
When he accepted the international award, Stewart said he shared a story about a young who boy comes into the store everyday to buy groceries for his mother.
He usually asks for the groceries to be doubled bagged so he can hang them from his bicycle handlebars.
One day when the cashier asked the boy if he wanted his groceries double bagged he started crying and explained his bicycle had been stolen at school.
Being a mother herself, the cashier planned to go look for a bicycle at yard sales. Before she could check the yard sales, a customer, who had been in line when the boy explained his bike had been stolen, asked if she had been able to find a bicycle for the child.
The cashier explained she planned to go shopping at yard sales that weekend. The customer said he waned to help and donated money and hen another cashier wanted to donate money. In the end, Stewart said two customers, several cashiers, a manager and the produce clerk had donated enough money to buy the boy a brand new bicycle and a lock.
One day, when the boy came to the store the employees wheeled the bicycle out to him.
“The reward of being an IGA retailer is getting to work with people like this,” Stewart said.
Stewart and his business partner Dennis Darling purchased Susanville Supermarket IGA 15 years ago. Stewart maintains extremely high standards of operation within this store, consistently excelling in IGA’s training and assessment programs.
IGA is the world’s largest voluntary supermarket network with aggregate worldwide retail sales of more than $21 billion per year. The Alliance includes nearly 4,000 Hometown Proud Supermarkets worldwide, supported by 36 distribution companies and more than 55 major manufacturers, vendors and suppliers encompassing everything from grocery to equipment items.
IGA has operations in 46 of the United States and more than 40 countries, commonwealths and territories on all six inhabited continents.
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