2020 Outstanding Independents, Social Purpose: Charley Family Shop'n Save and Oliver's Market
Charley Family Shop’n Save
In May 2019, Ray Charley, the 68-year-old owner of Shop ’n Save stores in Greensburg and Murrysville, Pa., completed a 3,058-mile benefit ride across the southern United States on behalf of Feherty’s Troops First Foundation, a Maryland-based charity that provides assistance and support for veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Each day, Charley would log his miles and report his location. His status update would then be posted on the grocer’s website on a page titled “Where Is Ray Today?” Shop ’n Save stores also tracked his progress with a large map of the United States on display in each of the grocer’s three stores across Pennsylvania. Charley would thank all of the supporters who followed his ride in daily dispatches on Facebook.
The feat became a common topic discussed among shoppers, employees and even suppliers, generating much good will for an already beloved local food retailer with strong ties to the communities it serves.
2020 OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENTS
“Every day I would check, and every day your well wishes and your thumbs-up and your grace-of-God wishes have given me strength to continue this journey through the difficult days when we were going through deserts and mountains,” Charley told Trib Live, a local newspaper. “I greatly appreciate all our friends back in western Pennsylvania who have supported this ride financially, and those that have bought wings at the Charley Family Shop ’n Save stores in Greensburg and Murrysville to help support this noble cause of helping save veterans from the tragic loss of life through suicide.”
The event and its publicity generated sales growth, an increase in loyalty card memberships, and feedback from customers asking, “When are you going to do this again?” More quietly, the grocer also donates to the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
Long before consumers’ appetites for local foods exploded, Oliver’s Market started believing in “the power of local” back in 1988, when Steve Maass founded the grocer in Sonoma County, Calif. Not only has there been huge growth in the number of farm-to-table restaurants and farmers’ markets since then, but even large grocery chains and big-box retailers have been aggressively expanding and marketing their own locally grown offerings.
Exactly how “the power of local” is leveraged by grocers large and small has changed over the years, but the core values upholding Oliver’s Market remain the same:
- Provide customers with choice
- Keep the focus local
- Offer fair prices, great quality and service
- Support our community
- Value and support employees
The grocer’s mission remains to strive to offer customers the finest selection of natural, conventional and specialty products. This quest begins with a commitment to support hundreds of local partners, including farmers and producers. Oliver’s carries more than 6,000 locally produced items, which account for 26% of sales annually.
“I didn’t know a lot about the grocery business when I started out, but I wanted to create a store where people enjoyed shopping,” Maass says. “I thought if they enjoyed the store, they would spend more time there.” Oliver’s Market now has four locations and more than 1,100 employees.
In 2019, Oliver’s became a Social Purpose Corporation, a type of for-profit entity in some U.S. states that enables, but does not require, considering social or environmental issues in decision-making. Accordingly, the grocer issued its first Social Purpose Corporation Annual Report this year.