Mighty Community Markets: Tools for Small and Independent Grocers

Mighty Community Markets: Tools for Small and Independent Grocers

  |  July 27, 2022

“I’m on a mission to build strong stores.” —Jeanie Wells

Having the right tools to succeed in retail is crucial if you want to survive—and it is doubly crucial if your store is at a competitive disadvantage. Small independent stores often do not have the resources needed to build sound foundational retail practices and set their teams up for success. Training programs designed to develop and advance workers often involve travel or time commitments that put these programs out of reach for small retailers, especially in the current economic climate.

Beginning this August, Jeanie Wells will be launching a new six-part online course that will help small and independent grocers develop the skills necessary to understand the drivers of their business and give them the tools they need to survive in their markets. Mighty Community Markets is the culmination of Wells’s more than twenty-five years of experience in independents and co-ops, watching small grocers struggle to stay profitable while their large competitors rake in profits year after year. In recent years, the trend appears to be accelerating. “I’m seeing all of these chain grocery stores posting their biggest profits ever, they are all breaking sales records, and at the same time I am seeing all of the small co-ops and independent grocery stores really struggling, some of them for years. I am really worried about the health of these independent markets,” says Wells.

Wells was drawn to developing this program after seeing how deeply communities are negatively affected when their local grocery store is struggling. “I’m really worried about the trends out there, and I know how important these stores are to the communities they serve, whether it is in a rural setting or an urban setting. There are communities depending on these stores.” As large retailers take an ever-expanding slice of market share, it is the underserved communities that are most deeply affected. “In these small towns, if they don’t have a Walmart, then they have a Dollar Store, and these chains are marching across the country.” When the local independent stores fail, communities lose access to many of the things that our stores do so well, like fresh fruits and vegetables and locally sourced products.

Mighty Community Markets is designed to give small independent retailers and co-ops access to the same tools and practices that their larger peers utilize to grow their businesses, in a format and at a cost manageable for smaller operations. The program is broken up into six online sessions in which Jeanie will explore foundational aspects of retail grocery.

What will be covered in the six sessions?

  • Session 1: Orientation to the Grocery Industry. This first session will get all participants oriented to the tasks at hand. What are the key trends in our industry? What are the opportunities we may be missing? What are the financial and market conditions at your store? What can we learn from the competition? How does the product mix we offer shape our own financial models?
  • Session 2: Understanding Financial Metrics. What are the key financial indicators that govern the operations of a grocery store? What should we be monitoring at our stores, and why?
  • Session 3: Master the Essential Financial Calculations. The third session will teach practical skills to track the big four metrics:
    • calculating sales growth
    • margin, both applied and achieved
    • personnel and productivity
    • inventory turns
  • Session 4: Introduction to Price Image and Price Strategy. The fourth session focuses on how to shape price perception in our stores. This session walks through the art and science of creating the intentional image you want. As small stores, we may not have the lowest price in town, but we can actively create a positive price image by understanding the fundamentals of how perception is created.
  • Session 5: Merchandising Principles to Grow Sales and Create Loyalty. Learn the fundamentals of how merchandising works in the customer’s mind, building and maintaining promotional and routine displays that emphasize your values, adhere to tried-and-true essential merchandising principles, and grow sales!
  • Session 6: Bringing It All Together. In the final session, you will go back and harvest skills from the previous sessions to build an action plan that you will bring back to your store. How can you use the guiding principles of your organization to guide short-term action plans? What are you seeing in your own store, and how can you apply the skills you have learned?

 What will be the tangible takeaways?

  • Course Workbook. The culmination of all of the homework from the sessions, this document will guide you to look at your own store through the lens of the course and give you the tools to make a plan of action.
  • Grocery Calculations Cheat Sheet. With this valuable tool, keep the financial calculations necessary to measure your store’s financial success always at your fingertips.
  • Merchandising Guide for Small Stores. Know the visual principles of merchandising in order to give your displays greater impact.
  • Certificate of Course Completion

In addition to all of the practical skill-building the course offers, Jeanie’s secondary goal for the course is to develop a peer network to foster continued connection and support for smaller co-ops and independent grocers. “Peer relationships are vital, and smaller stores often do not have the same level of collaboration with their peers that larger stores do.”

 The first class is set to launch on August 11, 2022 from 4-5:30 p.m. EDT.

● Session 1: Thursday, August 11th, 2022

● Session 2: Thursday, September 8th, 2022

● Session 3: Thursday, October 13th, 2022

● Session 4: Thursday, November 10th, 2022

● Session 5: Thursday, December 8th, 2022

● Session 6: Thursday, January 19th, 2023 (third Thurs.)

The cost to participate in Mighty Community Markets is $1,499 for the first attendee, although stores with annual revenues under $1M can enroll up to three managers for the price of one. Stores that have revenues greater than $1M can enroll each additional attendee for only $200. If you are a store with very limited resources, there may be some financial support available. Email events@columinate.coop to see if there are any off-setting scholarship funds available in your area.

There’s still time to register!

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