Fishers Foods Featured

5:37pm EDT April 29, 2002
Jeffrey Fisher says the consolidation of the grocery industry over the past few years has actually helped strengthen Fishers Foods position as one of the area's largest local grocery chains.

Fishers Foods, founded in 1933 by Jeffrey's grandfather, Joseph, has survived the Depression, recessions and influxes of national big-box retailers.

"There's been so many changes within the last five to six years that I think it's even strengthened our position to be an independent," Fisher says.

"As we become the lone ranger, we're the alternative to the big boxes, who really don't do what the customer wants."

Fisher, who has worked for his family's company for 20 years and as its president for the last 15, says quality and value have kept the chain in business.

Fishers doesn't strive to appeal to a particularly low-end or high-end customer, he says. In fact, he admits, "We don't have a target audience. We're not looking for low end or high end, but everybody in the middle. Then we get a lot of high-end customers and we get a lot of low-end customers."

He says a loose market definition works for the company because it has figured out how to truly deliver value to the customer. Fishers does this by offering everyday low prices that are often lower than the national chains.

"We have adopted an everyday low price strategy," he says. "No gimmicky card is needed. Even though we're a small independent, we buy directly from the manufacturers -- we don't buy through a wholesaler. We ship directly into our warehouse from the manufacturer."

He says the quality of Fishers food is exceptional, adding to the whole value concept.

"We're food people," he says. "The food should look good, the food should taste good, and the food is more important than the décor.

"You don't have to pay $25 a pound for great filet," he adds. "We have certain purveyors that work with us, and our meat cutters are trained to look for the quality, to cut it the right way."

The last key to providing value, he says, is always offering good customer service, no matter how low your prices are. That is accomplished by training employees at every level how to communicate. At the store level, he says, Fishers 1,000 employees are trained to treat the customer the same way they would want to be treated when they are grocery shopping.

At the corporate level, the company maintains a separate a separate customer service phone number, listed in the local phone book. It also is lucky enough to employ many long-term employees, who, as Fisher puts it, "carry the banner every day."

"The thing with this industry is that there's always another competitive force that's going to open up. It could be another independent, it could be a regional chain ... but there's never been a time where we felt that we couldn't deliver value." How to reach: Fishers Foods, (330) 497-3000

Connie Swenson