OPERATIONS

NASFT: Five hot specialty food retailers

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — A New York City gourmet emporium and a Bay Area nine-store natural/specialty food supermarket chain are among the recipients of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s Outstanding Retailers of 2012 awards.

The annual awards, which will be presented on June 18 at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., recognize excellence in customer service, product sourcing, merchandising, quality assurance and a passion for presenting top-quality food. They were selected by a national panel of specialty food experts including previous honorees, manufacturers, distributors and editors of Specialty Food Magazine

Here is a rundown on the winners:

• Caviar & Bananas: Opened in 2008 by husband-and-wife team Kris and Margaret Furniss, this gourmet market and café features a sushi bar, prepared foods all made on site and a wide-ranging product mix from, indeed, caviar to bananas. Located in downtown Charleston, S.C., the store takes its aesthetic cues from New York City’s top specialty food markets.

• City Feed and Supply: This natural foods grocery, café and deli, with two locations, is far more than a purveyor of quality natural foods. Owners Kristine Cortese and David Warner are deeply involved in their Massachusetts community, and source local and regional products from small farms and artisan producers. The couple had no retailing experience when they decided to open a specialty food store in 2000.

• Eli’s Manhattan:
Opened in 1998 by noted merchant Eli Zabar with inspiration from the food halls of Europe, Eli’s Manhattan has become a neighborhood institution on the exclusive Upper East Side. With 20,000 sq. ft. of space, the store is packed with baked goods made on site, prepared foods, fresh fish, aged meat and cheeses and a changing array of the latest specialty foods.

• Mollie Stone’s Markets: College pals Dave Bennet and Mike Stone opened their first store in 1986 to bring natural foods to a larger market in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Since then, they’ve expanded to nine locations with more than 30,000 products in the largest units. The retailer is known for its in-store demonstrations and lively social media program to connect with customers.

• Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine: With three locations in Chicago, this retailer is known for its carefully edited selection of artisanal foods, including more than 150 cheeses, as well as its Artisan Producer Festival at Chicago’s French Market. Owners Greg O’Neill and Ken Miller opened the first location in 2004, taking inspiration from years of traveling and living abroad and finding a scarcity of market-driven shopping at home.

The NASFT, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, is a not-for-profit trade association established in 1952 to foster commerce and interest in the specialty food industry. It has more than 2,900 members in the United States and abroad.

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REAL ESTATE

Ikea launches construction on its largest North American store

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Ontario — Ikea said Tuesday that it has begun construction on the expansion of its current Montreal store to what will be its largest store in North America.

Set to be complete summer 2013, the new Ikea Montreal will be 469, 694 sq. ft. and will feature expanded inventory and services such as a 600-seat restaurant and 1,400+ parking spots.

According to the Swedish home furnishings retailer, it will leverage technological advancements in the expansion project that will make this new store as much as 40% more efficient than stores Ikea built in the early 2000s.

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News

Babies’R’Us supports military moms-to-be with Operation Shower

BY CSA STAFF

WAYNE, N.J. — Babies“R”Us is offering customers a new way to support military moms-to-be through a partnership with OperationShower, an organization that hosts baby showers for military wives to ease the stress of their husbands’ deployment. The retailer has launched Babiesrus.com/OperationShower, which will serve as an online information portal, where visitors can learn how they can support this charitable program and ensure that military moms-to-be, who are often far away from friends and family, receive basic essentials for their newborns. To kick off the partnership, the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund, a public charity affiliated with Toys“R”Us Inc., has donated $100,000 to Operation Shower.

“Thousands of military wives each year experience the journey of pregnancy without friends and family nearby to provide support during what can be an overwhelming time in an expectant mom’s life. And, quite often, these women don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the tradition of a baby shower to celebrate this exciting milestone,” said Sloane Lucas, director corporate philanthropy for Toys“R”Us, Inc. “Through this new partnership with Operation Shower, Babies“R”Us is proud to assist the families of America’s armed forces by helping ensure that military moms-to-be are showered with joy while their husbands are so courageously serving our country.”

As part of this partnership, Babies“R”Us will co-host several events with Operation Shower over the next year, benefiting families across the country from all branches of military, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard. At each of the events, military moms-to-be will experience – on a grand scale – all of the heartwarming excitement associated with a baby shower – from festive décor to the fun of opening much-needed gifts for themselves and their little ones. The women will also receive Babies“R”Us gift cards, so they can shop for items they need and want before and after they welcome their babies into the world.

Expectant moms can help the cause by requesting donations through their Babies"R"Us registry.

Babies“R”Us customers can also participate in the campaign and donate to military moms-to-be by purchasing items directly from the official Operation Shower baby registry, which can be accessed through Babiesrus.com/OperationShower. All items purchased off of the organization’s official Babies“R”Us Registry will be shipped to Operation Shower and used as gifts for expectant moms at upcoming showers.

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