Posted 10-20-14 - From my days as a convenience store retailer in my father’s stores to my time working for the old Malone & Hyde/Fleming grocery wholesale companies, I’ve been involved with the wholesale business. I remember as a retailer how certain thoughts and attitudes about our wholesaler seemed to always lead me to points of conflict about our wholesaler relationship. Chief among the thoughts in my head at that time were “our wholesaler is only concerned about their business, not mine.” Or, “My wholesaler just wants to put the screws to me.” I’ll come back to these erroneous thoughts in a moment…
Of course, I was young at the time and without the tempering of age and experience to fully understand the dynamics of just what our wholesaler had to offer our family business that in most cases, would have actually made our successful business even more successful.
Each year I attend KGA/KACS member wholesaler shows and events to try and keep my head on straight as to what’s REALLY going on in our industry. I’ve been fortunate that most all of our wholesaler members graciously offer invitations to me for their shows. I’ve been able to attend several shows this year and have a couple more to attend the remainder of the year. Attending provides me the opportunity to talk with KGA/KACS retailer members attending the shows and interact with wholesaler associates. What’s interesting is how wholesalers are now offering so much more than just buying opportunities. Educational programming and first-class speakers now provide retailers with valuable information about improving their businesses. I remember days past when the KGA/KACS was a leader in providing a “show” that brought retailers and suppliers together along with outstanding educational sessions. This is but one example of how wholesalers today should be recognized as a valuable strategic “partner” in the retailer/wholesaler relationship.
For the record, I must say that the entire grocery and convenience store wholesale industries provide the largest and most consistent chunk of revenue for the association via dues and their gracious KGA/KACS Ribbon Program sponsorships. They understand that having the KGA/KACS here helping figure out legislative and regulatory issues relieves them of having to have another person(s) in their organization trying to keep up with government. I’ve been told by a wholesaler president that it was less expensive for him to provide substantial financial support to the association than to hire a person on his staff to help his retailer customers. I can’t thank the wholesaler 2014 KGA/KACS Ribbon Program sponsors enough for their financial support - in addition to all the other sponsors who believe in the KGA/KACS.
Back to my erroneous thoughts from my youth. Once I began working for a wholesaler, I learned that wholesaler associates charged with working directly with retailers REALLY do care about their retailers. I was involved with providing retailers the latest and greatest technology tools to improve their businesses. It is a part of my personal makeup to help others and I was passionate about teaching retailers how use technology to improve their business.
I still see this desire to help in the vast majority of wholesaler associates I am fortunate to meet during wholesaler shows. As the grocery, supermarket, and convenience store industries have changed over the past 20 years, I ask myself why a retailer would not want to tap into this pool of motivated and knowledgeable associates provided by wholesalers to help solidify what should be a strong business “partnership” in today’s crazy retail world.
In closing and as one who attempted to serve, to the best of my ability, the retailer customers of the wholesaler I worked for, take a moment to recognize those wholesaler associates who are willing to work for you and your store with a partnership attitude. You never know who might just have an idea or business improvement that might just make you a million dollars – or more!
At your service!