What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in 1985 for your store and this industry?
Gary Parins, manager, Quillin's, La Crosse, Wis.: I see the challenge for us, as a warehouse supermarket, is to change our mix to put profit back into the picture. For example, I believe we should have more direct store delivery items like pizzas, beer, liquor, wine, pop, etc. We need to expand our fresh fish and frozen fish programs. These are great opportunities. To tackle these opportunities in a warehouse operation, you have to change your merchandising philosophies. We have created the price image, but you have to do more than that today. We've been taking advantage of opportunities to bag groceries and to offer carryout service. We have a "Willin' Quillin" program. It keeps growing right along with the opportunities and challenges. It used to be that the standard supermarkets felt they had to compete with the warehouse operations. I think a warehouse manager will have his head in the sand in 1985 if he doesn't see the competitive challenges and the opportunities to be found through increasing warehouse service.
Gary Wallace, assistant manager, Martin Foods, Mt. Vernon, Ill.: The challenges are tied to the innovations and changes. The real challenge is to keep your feet on the ground and remember the basics. We should utilize the innovations and adapt to the changes so we can satisfy our customers' needs and still realize a profit. If changes like backroom scanning, checkout scanning and computers aren't utilized properly, they become expensive toys. Pleasing our customers is still our number one goal, and we have that opportunity every day. You don't need a computer to say "hello."
John Richardson, manager, Price Chopper, Lenox, Mass.: I believe the biggest challenge in 1985 will be our continued involvement with inflation. For the first time in over a decade, inflation has stopped, and we are beginning to feel the effects of deflation. This economic reversal has already had a drastic impact on the supermarket industry. Even if you continue to sell the same amount of groceries, you are actually ringing up less in sales dollars. To stay even, you have to move more tonnage to compensate for the deflated dollar. More tonnage means more productivity per person, or additional labor. The opportunities in 1985 will come from our involvement with the computer, or with what I call, "the information revolution."
Bobby Spainhour, manager, Richfood, Amelia, Va.: If you drive here from Richmond, you can't help but notice the number of new housing developments and apartments. That new growth represents both an opportunity and a challenge for us. Because of this shift in population, a large chain will open a new store just 15 miles from here. That store will be as interested as we are in these potential customers. We also have to be more concerned about our present customers. We will have to try to keep the customers we have, and will have to go further out into the country looking for new ones.
Margie Fetter, assistant manager, Holiday Foods, Ferdinand Ind.: I see growth and the increased use of computers as both opportunities and challenges. The warehouse has just bought the Wesselman's Stores in Evansville and, with seven more stores on the horizon, I see job opportunities, as well as scanner opportunities. We don't have scanners as yet, but if that comes in 1985, i can see all kinds of opportunities for customers at the checkout. I also see scanner checking as a challenge. We have to learn how to use them, and then we have to teach our checkers. We will also have to teach the advantages of scanner checking to the consumer.