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Promoting & protecting the independent, community-focused grocery industry and its suppliers.
  • 21 Mar 2017 9:20 AM | Leah Maxwell (Administrator)

    Washington state lawmakers are strongly supporting a House measure which would reduce licensing burdens for grocery store and wine or beer specialty stores. HB 1351 received its first public hearing after passing the House this week, showing little sign of slowing. The bill would create a combination spirits, beer, and wine license for those businesses. Proponents and stakeholders argued this would prevent business owners for going through excessive and unnecessary licensing processes.

    Currently, grocery store or niche beer or wine shop owners must obtain a store license to sell beer, hard beer, or wine at their venues. If the owner wants to also sell spirits, he or she has to apply and pay for a second, separate license.

    Streamlining Licensing Process

    “The idea of getting one license rather than two creates efficiency especially when you have more than one store,” Carolyn Logue told the House Appropriations Committee on February 21, speaking on behalf of the Washington Retail Association.

    Logue is Principal of CA Logue Public Affairs. She added, “You don’t get just one license for the company, you get the license per store, so you have stores out there that are getting two licenses for a number of stores, so the efficiencies that could be created here are pretty significant in the businesses.”

    Combining Many Licenses Into One

    The measure would allow grocery stores and beer or wine speciality shops currently holding a spirits retail license to transition into a combined license for spirits, beer, and wine. To be eligible, the business’ facility must be 10,000 square feet or larger, the state Liquor Control Board (LCB) must approve the licensing, and the owner must pay $316 per year for each store. The store must also maintain either a minimum of $3,000 inventory of either food products or beer, strong beer or wine.

    The second substitute version of the bill increased the combination license fee from $250 to $316, and added eligibility for the typically smaller former state-owned or contract liquor stores.

    A nearly identical bill, SB 5194, would also combine the licenses, but for a $250 annual fee. The measure stalled after a February 14 Senate Ways and Means Committee public hearing.

    Bill Receives Full House Support

    On March 6, the State House passed the measure in a unanimous vote. Prime sponsor of HB 1351 is State Rep. David Sawyer (D-29), and cosponsors include State Reps. Brandon Vick (R-18), Deputy Majority Leader Larry Springer (D-45), and Andrew Barkis (R-2).

    “It’s good streamlining for small businesses and big businesses alike,” Sawyer told colleagues on the House floor.

    Also in support of the measure, State Rep Cary Condotta (R-12) who said during executive session the bill has been updated to make sure the proposed changes would benefit all affected parties.

    “We had to make some adjustments on this bill to negate the budget impacts, now it’s revenue neutral for the most part. We also included the small liquor stores that were left out originally and…the only person that was upset by this, and we think we’ve got them squared away,” he said.

    “I represent a number of retailers that sell spirit, wine, and beer, and we think it makes sense that they should only have to buy one license in order to do this,” Mark Johnson, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Washington Retail Association, told the Senate Commerce, Labor, and Sports Committee on Wednesday, March 15.

    During the public hearing, State Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33) expressed concern on whether the full $316 fee for the license was needed.

    LCB Legislative and Tribal Liaison James Paribello replied the cost was to maintain balance with existing licensing fees. “We did feel that this was a good streamlining measure for our licensing division as well, and we worked with the industry to help draft it,” he added.


  • 18 Jan 2017 1:01 PM | Leah Maxwell (Administrator)

    Ahold USA’s retail divisions—Stop & Shop New England, Stop & Shop New York Metro, Giant Landover and Giant Carlisle—recently embarked on a technology overhaul in collaboration with Verizon Enterprise Solutions to create a “smarter store” for what the grocery company calls “today’s always-connected consumer.” Now, that “digital transformation” is complete.

    “Our divisions are focused on the needs of their customers and improving the overall customer experience,” said Paul Scorza, chief information officer for Ahold USA. “Verizon Enterprise Solutions has helped them deliver on their ‘better place to shop’ mission as we were able to bring Wi-Fi to all 780 division stores while increasing network bandwidth that moves data quickly.”

    Wi-Fi connectivity throughout their stores has been instrumental for the Ahold USA divisions to tailor offers and promotions to subscribers of their app and “Scan It! Mobile” feature, which allows customers to use smartphones to scan items for self-serve checkout, according to the chain. Additionally, Ahold USA division associates can rely on strong network connectivity to rapidly and securely transmit data related to everything from inventory needs to medical prescriptions and point-of-sale transactions.

    “With this improved store network, we’re making it easier for our division customers to smoothly access other technology options like Scan It! Mobile,” said Scorza. “With a strong, reliable network, store associates are in a great position to succeed. Whether helping a customer with a price, ordering an item or finding a product, associates can get the job done faster and easier.”

    Underscoring the growing popularity of the Wi-Fi feature, this past December Ahold USA’s divisions saw an overall 23 percent spike in the number of users over the previous month.

    In addition to improving the customer experience, the technology upgrade includes operational enhancements across all Ahold USA division stores. All locations are now equipped with Verizon’s business-grade voice-over-IP phone solution, which streamlines network management and cost efficiencies while extending the capabilities of the company’s existing phone system. Further, the addition of Verizon’s industry leading wireless network capabilities in each location will provide backup connectivity to help maintain business continuity in the event of outages which can be harmful to business and a company’s brand.

    “Ahold USA’s businesses are reinventing the retail experience for today and the future, and we are proud to be partnering with them,” said Michele Dupré, group VP of retail, distribution and hospitality with Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “We’ve built our business on helping retailers, and organizations across all industries, embrace innovative technologies that deliver efficiencies and create new opportunities. Never before has technology transformation been so important for attracting a consumer population that has comfortably adapted to a digital world.”

    Verizon_Grocery_Store_Infographic_1


  • 20 Dec 2016 2:08 PM | Anonymous

    It’s not like Talia Randle grew up dreaming of being the fastest bagger in the West.

    But when the 17-year-old University Prep student started her first job this summer as a courtesy clerk at Metropolitan Market in Magnolia, her natural skills emerged, according to store manager Glen Hasstedt.

    Hasstedt, a former ballet dancer and coach who joined Met Market more than two decades ago, has trained four Washington State Best Baggers, including two who went on to win the national title.

    He said every great bagger has a few key talents.

    “They have to be fast, have great hand-eye coordination and be competitive and focused,” Hasstedt said.

    Randle said bagging seemed natural to her and within a week of starting, co-workers were commenting on her speed.

    “It just made sense to me, and I enjoy it,” Randle said. “Heavy things should be on the bottom — you don’t want to put a bag of rice on top of peaches — and everything should be standing up. It’s a little bit like Tetris or a puzzle.”

    To represent Met Market at the state level, competitors first have to win their in-store tournament. They then compete against the best baggers in each of the company’s five other local stores, according to Hasstedt.

    In bagging contests, competitors are asked to place a certain number of items, usually between 25 and 40, into a certain number of paper and reusable bags.

    Judging is based on four criteria: how fast the items are bagged, whether the bags have “structure” or are filled in such a way that items inside remain standing when placed on a table, how evenly the weight is distributed among the bags and the bagger’s congeniality.

    In some contests, judges slice away one side of the paper bags to make sure items remain stacked and upright, Hasstedt said. They’re also looking to see if the bags are too full for a customer to pick up with one hand, he said.

    The judges also try to trick baggers by, say, including a tiny pack of Lifesavers that is easy to overlook, Randle said.

    Because Hasstedt has a reputation for grooming winners, Randle was a favorite to win the state bag-off in October, she said. But there, she was competing against several very experienced old hands and was doing so in front of a loud audience that almost unnerved her.

    “There were people wearing cow bells and yelling,” she said. “It was loud.”

    That’s where Hasstedt’s mantra of “just stay focused and don’t let things distract you” came into play, she said.

    In October, four months after she packed her first official grocery bag, Randle had won the state title, filling three bags in 47 seconds. In addition to the title, she took home $2,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to the nationals, which will be held in February during the National Grocers’ Association convention at The Mirage in Las Vegas.

    If Randle wins in February, she will be the fourth champion to come out of Washington state in the past five years.

    In addition to the $10,000 grand prize, Hasstedt said, the winners enjoy a little prestige. For example, the 2013 national champ, Andrew Borracchini, another Hasstedt protégé, was invited to appear on the David Letterman show and compete against the show’s host.

    Hasstedt said despite Randle’s natural gifts, she’ll have to start practicing a minimum of four times a week at a special work station, away from patrons, to prepare for the nationals.

    “We don’t want her up at the front,” he said, “going like a maniac and scaring the customers.”


    View video and article here.

  • 07 Dec 2016 2:15 PM | Anonymous

    Amazon is testing a new kind of a convenience store in Seattle, Washington, which has no POS, no cash, no clerks and no lines.

    At 1,800 s.f., Amazon Go is open to Amazon employees participating in a testing program and is expected to open to the public in early 2017. The retailer uses Just Walk Out technology that combines computer vision and sensor fusion.

    The Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When done, a shopper leaves the store, the shopper’s Amazon account is charged and a receipt is sent to the shopper’s mobile device. Shoppers check into the store by scanning a barcode on a dedicated mobile app.

    The store offers ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options made fresh daily by on-site chefs and local kitchens and bakeries. There also is a selection of grocery items that range from staples like bread and milk to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates. For a home-cooked dinner, customers can pick up chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits, with all the ingredients needed to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes.

    In related news, QuikTrip of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has partnered with the e-commerce giant and its Amazon Locker service, which helps customers pick up and return their Amazon.com packages at a safe location. QuikTrip stores in Charlotte, North Carolina, offer the service.

    In other c-store news, Walmart opened its second Pickup with Fuel location last week in Thornton, Colorado. The 4,000-s.f. store combines online grocery pickup and convenience store merchandise. The store features a drive-thru for picking up online grocery orders. In addition to groceries, customers can have other Walmart.com merchandise delivered via Walmart Pickup with Fuel.

    Walmart’s first Pickup with Fuel location opened in in Huntsville, Alabama, earlier this year.

    Click here to view original article.

  • 02 Dec 2016 3:11 PM | Anonymous

    Nearly 80 million households in the U.S. own a pet, representing 60 percent of the entire population and a large portion of consumer spending, which is why Acosta—a leading full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry—has released new research focused on the growing industry. The Hot Topic Report, “The Pet Parenting Boom,” is the first full insights report from the company solely dedicated to this nearly $30 billion industry.

    “The pet category is an important one, as its total sales surpass popular categories such as dairy and candy,” said Colin Stewart, SVP at Acosta. “Fortunately for brands and retailers, the two largest generations—Baby Boomers and Millennials—also represent the two biggest age groups for pet ownership, which means we can expect continued growth in this category, especially since Millennials are just now entering their prime spending years.”

    Acosta’s report also explores the category as not just an economic trend, but a cultural one as well, providing insight on the following:

    Who are pet parents?

    A deep emotional connection between consumers and their domestic animals has helped steer the idea that pet owners are more like parents.

    • Ninety-four percent of owners indicate their pets are part of the family, with 80 percent treating them like children.
    • Forty-two percent of owners allow their animals to sleep in their beds.
    • Ninety-four percent of Baby Boomers talk to their pets daily, vs. 64 percent of Gen Xers and only 47 percent of Millennials.
    • Sixty-seven percent of Millennials take photos of their animals regularly, and 63 percent upload the photos to social media.
    • Fifty percent of owners include their pets in family holiday cards.

    What are pet parents buying?

    When it comes to spending for pet owners, the well-being of their animals plays an important role, but so does their own definition of necessities. Boomers consider toys and treats nonessentials, while Millennials— who are more likely to splurge on pet fashion—label them as necessities.

    • Forty-six percent of owners report they purchase products they think will provide a wellness benefit to their pets.
    • Thirty-six percent of owners spend more than $500 annually on pet medical expenses and $200 per year on regular grooming.
    • Sixty percent of Millennials purchase nonessential pet items at least once a week, vs. 28 percent of Gen Xers and 8 percent of Boomers.
    • Sixty percent of owners report celebrating their pets’ birthdays in some fashion, which for more than half of Millennial and 40 percent of Gen X pet owners means giving their animals birthday gifts.

    Where are they shopping?

    Pet acosta-pet-screenshot

    As pet families continue to grow, so does the retail pet channel. Nearly half of owners will remain loyal to their preferred brand of pet food, regardless of coupons or deals, but they do take advantage of digital tools such as retailer websites or apps to search for sales.

    • Owners ranked Walmart, PetSmart, Amazon.com, Petco and grocery stores as their top five preferred destinations to shop for pet products other than food.
    • The top three drivers for owners’ retailer selection included price, variety of products and convenience.

    “Pet owners shop for their animals much in the same way they shop for themselves,” added Stewart. “Retailers can apply key best practices in grocery to the retail pet channel as well, including appealing to Millennials, emphasizing health and wellness, and improving convenience to increase shopper loyalty.”

    The Pet Parenting Boom was compiled using research conducted by Acosta, as well as the company’s experience working with the nation’s largest CPG manufacturers and retailers.


Washington Food Industry Association

P.O. Box 706

1015 10th Ave SE

Olympia, WA 98507

Tel: 360-753-5177

Email: info@wa-food-ind.com



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