TOP WOMEN IN GROCERY COMPLETE COVERAGE
Progressive Grocer’s 2021 Top Women in Grocery awards program recognizes the integral role women play across all segments of the North American food retail and grocery industries. This is the 15th year for the food retailing industry's longest running program recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of thousands of women at all levels in the industry.
Females employed in all sectors of the grocery industry – from the retailer, wholesaler, supplier and solution provider communities – were nominated for above-and-beyond achievements between April 2020 and March 1, 2021 in three categories:
- Senior-Level Executives (titles of Vice President or higher)
- Rising Stars (titles lower than Vice President and Area/Region Director)
- Store Managers (titles of Store Manager/Director/Leader and Assistant Store Manager/Director/Leader)
The following are the Store Managers honored in this year’s Top Women in Grocery awards.
Store Manager, Giant Food #375, Washington, D.C.
- Legg worked with her management team to conduct all new hire interviews and built a strong bench in 2020, promoting 10 associates to department managers and key positions for the district.
- Working with the community is important to her: She partners with the local food bank, participates in the Giant Food ham donation program and raised $15,650 for the Children’s Cancer Foundation fundraiser in her store last year.
- The numbers showed Legg’s strong leadership as she beat her total sales goal and increased identical-store food sales; additionally, her associate survey score increased from 79% total engagement in 2019 to 86% in 2020, in spite of pandemic uncertainty.
Store Manager, Giant Food #745, Fairfax Va.
- Not only does Russell continue to develop her team, she also provides them with additional resources to help them master their positions; with her consistent follow-up and communication, several leaders from this team have moved to higher-volume stores.
- She is part of the mentoring group in her district and works with the Loudon County Junior Woman’s club mentoring young women.
- Russell’s quick success at one store resulted in her move to another location, where she exceeded her sales budget, beat her EBIT budget, reduced fresh shrink and improved her Net Promoter Score from 68 to 89.
Store Manager, Giant Food Store #6065, Lancaster, Pa.
- Arnold outperformed her budgeted sales in 2020, allowing for improved and excellent daily conditions.
- She led a store refresh of maintenance and merchandising, resulting in a minimal below- budget impact; a direct reflection of this success can be found in the associate engagement survey results, which are second highest in her district and an improvement of five points over the prior year.
- Arnold is a Central Pennsylvania Food Bank volunteer, packaging food into boxes to provide meals for families at food banks all over the region.
Store Manager, Giant Food Store #6473, New Britain, Pa.
- Baker was responsible for spearheading The Total Customer Experience, a district project designed to improve customers’ perceptions by initiating basics that helped drive culture in the chain’s stores.
- Her merchandising won Best Store Display for Thanksgiving; displays designed by her have also won several internal floral holiday merchandising awards, including for Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving.
- As a member of the Store Manager Council, Baker acts as liaison between senior-level management and store management by evaluating, communicating and implementing existing and new programs.
Store Manager, Giant Food Store #6448, Pottstown, Pa.
- Brown achieved the highest engagement score for the district, gaining a six-point increase from the prior year; her store also saw numerous team member promotions.
- Further, the store achieved year-on-year double-digit sales growth before, during and after the initial wave pandemic.
- When not hard at work, Brown donates her time adopting and training rescue dogs; she also volunteers at Project 143, a nonprofit organization that feeds children who may be food deficient.
Store Manager, Giant Food Store #6511, Springfield, Pa.
- Pierce raised team member engagement scores by seven points over the previous year by fostering an inclusive environment and encouraging team members to be themselves; her store ranked No. 1 and had the highest increase over last year.
- She guided her team through an extensive 14-week remodel, which included the addition of beer and wine and the Giant Direct e-commerce program.
- Pierce hosted a Letters to Santa event at which the company provided letters and crayons to children to write down what they wanted for Christmas; associates then selected 10 families that were negatively affected financially by the pandemic and fulfilled their Christmas wish list.
Store Manager. Giant Food Store #6504, East Stroudsburg, Pa.
- Singh’s store was one of the first locations in the chain to experience a positive COVID-19 case internally; due to the continued development of her team, she was able to have her associates provide support to other stores in the district, as the county was experiencing a high rate of positive cases.
- She grew sales over the year and exceeded the forecast, with her store profitable in fresh and 12th in the district in sales, thanks to community outreach that included working with the local news station to promote what the store had to offer, taking part in a bridal show that was hosted by a local radio station, and offering a 5% discount to East Stroudsburg University students.
- Singh was invited to speak at career days hosted by the college, and recruited associates in the surrounding community.
Store Manager, Giant Food Store #6461, South Hanover, Pa.
- Stine developed a culture of superior food safety at her store, realizing an average food safety score of 96% over the eight most recent audits.
- She is a member of the LINC and CARE business resource groups, which focus on finding innovative ways to support women and parents and caregivers, respectively, within the workplace and surrounding communities.
- Stine is a founding member of District 142’s staffing committee, where she serves as one of six store managers selected to analyze the district’s staffing opportunities and to help develop creative new solutions.
Home Shopping Facility Manager, Stop & Shop Home Shopping Facility, Riverhead, N.Y.
- Training is Kendrick’s No. 1 priority: She takes the time to properly train and develop staff, and she creates a friendly work environment with fun events such as an ugly-sweater contest during the holidays.
- Early in the pandemic, she organized a fundraiser at which she made personalized face masks and sold them, raising more $1,000 for families in need; she also organized multiple food donation events and participated in the Riverhead Breast Cancer Research “Pink Out” donation drive, getting Stop & Shop involved with all of these causes.
- Kendrick put together a staffing and operational plan to deal with the influx of e-commerce, resulting in a 40% increase in orders.
Store Manager, Stop & Shop Store #80, Springfield, Mass.
- Milotte changed the culture in her store, enabling her to increase her associate engagement score to the second-highest in the district, a seven-point improvement over the previous year.
- As a result of her focus on associate morale, the store’s P&L exceeded budget and last year’s results; the location had the best sales and items trends in its district almost every week, as well as better in-stock positions and improved overall metrics.
- During the pandemic, Milotte worked with first responders at two local hospitals, and donated healthy meals; she also regularly holds food drives to collect donations.
Home Shopping Facility Manager, Stop & Shop Home Shopping Facility, Cromwell, Conn.
- Noonan’s newly opened facility piloted a new brand concept for same-day home shopping delivery, which is now being rolled out across Stop & Shop.
- While training five new associates to learn the e-commerce business and promoting six people to full-time positions, she supported her district during the pandemic by managing several locations in the absence of key personnel.
- Dedicated to keeping her co-workers and community safe, Noonan continued to sew and bring in masks for the facility’s associates, using bright, fun fabrics to help spread cheer, and she also made and donated masks to a local senior center.
Store Manager, Stop & Shop Store #82, Halifax, Mass.
- Promoted to her present position in December 2019, Ronan quickly identified areas of opportunity and employed key metrics to improve the store’s overall operation and financial performance.
- Along with developing two full-time associates into department leads and promoting two department leads to assistant store managers, she was a coach and mentor to many assistant store managers within her district.
- Due to COVID-19, the Class of 2020 couldn’t participate in senior events, so Ronan and her team hosted a prom party in their conference room and a graduation ceremony at the store’s front end to show their appreciation.
Home Shopping Facility Manager, Stop & Shop Home Shopping Facility, Revere, Mass.
- Stevens closed a wareroom; transitioned a store to a home delivery and pickup facility before it, too, closed; and opened a new facility, at all locations helping associates obtain the necessary skills to advance in the company.
- She held a successful Rising Stars Day in October 2020, adding several associates to the program, which is designed to help participants reach their career aspirations.
- Stevens worked with Old Colony Elderly Services, a program through Meals on Wheels, to support, manage and build a working relationship within the local community; her facility completed 2,000 orders for the program.
Store Director, Albertsons Store #460, Las Vegas
- Eilers’ passion for her team and the community she serves was evident during the pandemic, when she strove to keep team spirit strong in the face of local casino closings that caused economic hardships for many of her staff members.
- During an unprecedented time, she led her team to generate record sales, district-leading customer service scores and nearly perfect audit scores.
- Eilers’ leadership fostered extraordinary customer loyalty, with customers sending thank-you cards to staff members and calling to commend the team for its efforts.
Assistant Store Director, Albertsons Stores #4706, Temecula, Calif., and #609, Murrieta, Calif.
- Tegge fostered support for Michelle’s Place, a local organization for cancer patients and families, with her own volunteer efforts as well as fundraising efforts in-store and in the district.
- Leveraging past partnerships, she raised funds and collected products during hunger relief fundraisers with donations of Turkey Bucks from local stores.
- Tegge led a team of volunteers to host a virtual run, changing the scope of the event to a drive-thru, with volunteers lining up to hand out goodies to race participants.
Store Director, Albertsons Store #574 in Springfield, Ore.
- As Vails led employees and customers through the pandemic and one of the largest wildfires in Oregon, her store achieved record sales and profits.
- Her store was the first in the district to launch the Drive Up & Go service, and she effectively incorporated new omnichannel demands without sacrificing the day-to-day business.
- Vails found ways to give back to the community amid the dual crises: She volunteered at Grass Roots Garden, which grows fresh food for local food banks; secured cash donations for seven members of the local fire department who lost their homes in the wildfire; and helped provide aid and supplies for the wildfire emergency operations center.
Store Director, Amigos Store #508, Plainview, Texas
- Keeping shelves stocked, items available and guests well served, Bernal led her store to a stellar performance: EBITDA improved 84.91%, and sales improved 13.41% over the prior year.
- She and her team introduced a new strategy for bringing awareness to the store’s digital deals with a special sign that displays deals for customers as they enter the store; the strategy proved so successful that it’s been adapted and implemented at every location in the division.
- Under Bernal’s leadership, Amigos team members have donated time, food, money and countless gift cards to various causes aimed at helping those who are struggling; she also provides her leadership and time at a dozen organizations and causes.
Store Director, Big Y World Class Markets, Chicopee and Westfield, Mass.
- Under D’Amour’s leadership, the Big Y World Class Market in Chicopee, Mass. exceeded its 2020 sales budget by 13.6%; the store also achieved a top-level score on internal customer engagement and a safety score metric of 95.5%.
- She led her team through a minor store remodel in 2020, which resulted in an upgraded produce and floral department, the addition of eight self-checkout registers, and a realignment of the back room to make space for the construction of Big Y’s first micro-fulfillment center.
- D’Amour, who was reassigned to a Big Y store in Westfield, Mass., in January 2021, is a member of Big Y’s XYZ Employee Resource Group, which is focused on increasing employee awareness and empathy of generational differences; she’s also a member of the Big Y Family Council.
Store Director, Brookshire’s Food and Pharmacy Store #37, Shreveport, La./District VP, Brookshire Grocery Co.
- During the nine months that Hill led Brookshire’s Food and Pharmacy #37 in Shreveport, La., she grew sales through her team’s superior service, focus on in-stock conditions, and overall excellence in store conditions and merchandising; for the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2020, the store achieved a 45.5% sales increase, which led the Brookshire’s district.
- In the past year, she mentored, promoted and hired 10 members of store management.
- In February 2021, she was promoted to district VP and is now responsible for the 11 retail stores in Brookshire Grocery Co.’s Eastern division of Spring Market stores.
Store Leader, City Market Store #442, Vail, Colo.
- Samuels, who started working at City Market Store #442 as a deli clerk nine years ago, became store leader in June 2020; under her management, the store’s sales have increased 12.3%, with $11,700 EBITDA.
- She made exemplary strides in retaining her staff in Vail, Colo., which is a tourist and transient town, with her 2020 year-end retention coming in at 60%; she also did an outstanding job at controlling overtime during the pandemic.
- A big proponent of diversity, Samuels enjoys managing a store that’s 70% staffed by women and includes associates from 19 countries; she’s an active member of Kroger’s African American associate resource group.
Store Manager, Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) Barstow Commissary, Barstow, Calif.
- The store manager for the Barstow Commissary since August 2020, Ballestracci works daily to endorse diversity in the workplace and create a strong team framework.
- Known for her entrance-area and end cap displays, she was highly successful in motivating her team at a time when sales were difficult: Her efforts increased sales in all departments by an impressive 22.47%.
- Ballestracci earned honorable mention in DeCA’s 2020 watermelon contest and came in second place in the Helos display contest.
Store Manager, Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) Fort Myer Commissary, Fort Myer, Va.
- Liaison to the 89th Airlift Wing, in which capacity she provides food to Air Force One and White House executive chefs, Blythe worked with industry members to obtain products in short supply due to COVID-19.
- She conducted a food vulnerability assessment on government rations and established the processing of the subsistence transaction, significantly reducing processing time and allowing military members more time for missions.
- The winner of many awards, Blythe established Project Search with DeCA, providing disabled children with work internships.
Store Leader, Dillons Store #088, Topeka, Kan.
- Benning fostered a positive workplace that earned a retention score of 47.7% — outpacing the company average — raised the store’s sanitation score to a 96%, despite inheriting a store on an action plan from the health department; and led her team to increase store sales by 10.3%.
- She led store associates in a drive to collect blankets, coats and hats for students in need at a local school and school supplies for their teachers; store associates also supported a local retirement facility with flowers, books, crossword puzzles and magazines for those unable to leave their rooms during the pandemic.
- Benning partners with Harvesters, a Feeding America food bank.
Store Director, Family Fare Store #1511, Grayling, Mich.
- Sluck was assigned to the Grayling, Mich., location in January 2020, contributing to its record profit that year; she grew her EBIT by 34%.
- The store’s number of click-and-collect transactions was below the company average when she arrived, but after some coaching, goal setting and recognition from her, the location raised its click-and-collect transactions by 157% per week.
- During the pandemic, Sluck partnered with Camp Grayling and its annual turkey dinner, feeding upwards of 850 meal recipients; traditionally, this is a sit-down meal to support the community, but under her guidance, the event pivoted to offer drive-up meals or home delivery while following all COVID-19 safety precautions.
Store Leader, Food 4 Less Store #338, El Monte, Calif.
- An inspirational leader, Ramirez transformed her team by focusing on associates’ career advancement interests, cross-training team members and involving her staff in holiday preparations, while continuing to uphold high standards, healthy habits and adherence to CDC COVID-19 guidelines.
- She received two prestigious American Eagle Silver Ownership Coins, awarded by Food 4 Less/Foods Co’s senior leadership for management excellence.
- Ramirez serves as her district’s Our Promise chair.
Store Leader, Food 4 Less Store #324, Lynwood, Calif.
- Tejeda’s focus on training and people development helped elevate morale in her store by allowing associates to work more hours and have opportunities to learn new tasks, ultimately making them feel more appreciated.
- As the backup district leader, she stepped in for her district leader when needed, walking stores and leading district conference calls.
- Tejeda was chosen as the Our Promise team chair for her district, helping to fulfill the Kroger and Food 4 Less Promise of Feeding the Human Spirit of associates and customers with inspiration and uplift.
Store Manager, Food City Store #820, Weber City, Va.
- After Sallee proactively implemented COVID-19 safety measures at her store, management called upon her to help develop a company-wide response; her store’s parking lot became one of the area’s first drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites, and her store’s pharmacy was among the first approved as a vaccination site.
- She was recently selected to serve as the training manager for the district, as well as working to develop future leaders in her store.
- When the pandemic caused the Santa Train to alter its 77-year tradition of delivering gifts by rail for the underprivileged, Sallee played a key role in hosting the local drive-thru version.
Store Manager, Fred Meyer Store, Monroe, Wash.
- When her store experienced the first case of COVID-19 in the division, Scheller worked with the Fred Meyer corporate office to develop a process to deal with subsequent occurrences and provided a sense of security to her team when so much was still unknown.
- She led her store to increase sales by 13.67%, lower shrink by 10 basis points and improve EBITDA by 1.33%, results that outpaced district averages.
- Creating a store culture of community service and participating in all events with her team, Scheller volunteers with the Mukilteo Boys/Girls Club, where she mentors, coaches and helps raise funds.
Store Leader, Fry’s Food Store #67, Cave Creek, Ariz.
- Childers transformed her once outdated, underperforming store into a highly lucrative, upscale modern grocery store destination; in 2020, her store ranked No. 1 in operations for the division, reached a $1 million EBITDA and grew in sales by 19.3% — unprecedented results for the store.
- She managed a complete remodel of her store, which included upgrades of merchandising, technology and amenities, while keeping customers shopping and team members focused.
- At St. Mary’s Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul, Childers assembles emergency food boxes for people in need; during the pandemic, she and her Our Promise team made food and toiletry gift baskets for a food bank.
Store Leader, Fry’s Marketplace #624, Gilbert, Ariz.
- Wicks and her team created an incentive and rewards-based program to back Fry’s promise of delivering friendly service; as a result, her store received high marks for customer service, shrink dropped by 43 basis points, and sales increased $6 million.
- Committed to career development for team members, she was integral to helping two department heads advance to salaried positions last year.
- As a United Food Bank volunteer, Wicks helps pack emergency food bags and assists with back-to-school drives distributing supplies to a local school.
Store Leader, Gerbes Store #124, Columbia, Mo.
- Thomas led her store to results that outpaced the division average by 88 basis points for Q4.
- A valued mentor, she used her strong coaching skills and ability to develop future leaders, giving them associates the tools that they needed to succeed as they advanced within the company.
- Thomas is a member of the Women’s EDGE associate resource group, dedicated to supporting women in the grocery industry, and holds the Our Promise team lead position for her district, ensuring that communication reaches all associates and that team members have a channel for feedback.
Store Leader, Giant Eagle Store #23, Sarver, Pa.
- In a large undertaking for all team members, Ottenweller helped transform an independently owned store to corporate ownership and led it through a remodel within the first year.
- She partnered with Concordia Health, serving as a safe shopping destination for more than 100 senior residents; she also works with local high school sports teams to provide away game lunches, in addition to her community work as a Boy Scout leader and marketing consultant for PYCO School of Music.
- Ottenweller and her team were recognized by a local hospital for literally saving a life with their quick first-aid response after a customer had a heart attack in their store.
Store Leader, Giant Eagle Store #69, Pittsburgh
- Working in a predominantly Black and underserved community, Prata organized a forum for store leadership to learn, discuss and identify ways to stand up against racism; after forming the group, she led discussions with leadership at all levels of the company.
- Continuing her leadership in inclusion, equity and diversity efforts, she is an active member of three business resource groups, inspiring others by recognizing her own lock of understanding on this important topic.
- Prata works with community leaders to ensure that her store sources products and includes local items that meet area residents’ needs.
Store Manager, Harris Teeter Store #346, Winston Salem, N.C.
- Since her promotion to store manager, James has been repeatedly recognized for generating excitement and creativity to drive participation in promotional contests, including victories in Floral Rose, Produce Pear and Valentine’s Day Red Velvet sales events.
- She led an 11% improvement in total store sales, moved the store’s operating profit from losing money last year to being profitable this year, raised productivity levels and customer service scores well above average, and oversaw total store waste reduction.
- James facilitated a diversity and inclusion training class for Harris Teeter and is a part of the Women’s Resource Group, which helps foster the company’s diversity and inclusion journey.
Store Director, Ridgeview Hy-Vee Store, Olathe, Kan.
- A 19-year veteran directing her third store, Cavin manages 435 employees in a grocery store and adjacent convenience store; she’s an excellent merchandiser committed to strong sales and promotions, and not afraid to go “big” with buys.
- Last year, the location experienced many weeks of record sales and profits, continually breaking records and recording double-digit increases; during the last four quarters, she grew profits by more than 100%, and in one quarter, profits exceeded 200%.
- The store’s pharmacy was among those chosen to offer contactless COVID-19 molecular PCR (lab), rapid antigen and rapid antibody testing through an outdoor drive-thru testing process.
Store Director, Jewel-Osco Store #3720 Lockport, Ill.
- Overseeing 200 employees, Gordon continues improving performance: In the past year, the average transaction exceeded $50, a 17% increase; Own Brands — and various higher-margin items — have reached 200 basis points over her projection; and during the holidays, her best-in-class merchandising drove average store volume from $650,000 to $800,000.
- She believes in buying local, with area farms supplying fresh food daily.
- Gordon mentors new store leaders — this year, she has four new managers in her store — teaching them to drive the bottom line and service customers; she’s also a member of the Jewel-Osco Diversity & Inclusion Council.
Store Director, Jewel-Osco Store #3343, South Elgin, Ill.
- Hanus increased year-to-date sales by 24.07% or $137,000 weekly; shrink improved by 64 basis points, to 2.59% from 3.23%; and EBITDA climbed from 6.63% to 8.60%, a 2.28% increase.
- She hired an associate “off the street,” mentored the individual, and then promoted that person to manager of dairy, frozen and Drive Up & Go, and she also helped a new deli manager achieve a Level 4 performance rating.
- For five years, Hanus had organized a children’s “trunk or treat” at her store, so when COVID-19 halted 2020’s event, she created candy bags for 400 local children; she also works with local fire and police departments.
Store Director, Jewel-Osco Store #4043, Chicago
- Six months after Hooker was made a store director for the first time, George Floyd protesters destroyed much of her East 34th St. Chicago location; within 10 days, she and her team had it up and running again
- Last year, the store recorded its first positive earnings in more than 10 years: Earnings increased by $1,733,000 to a positive $254,000, average weekly sales climbed from $340,000 to $490,000, and shrink improved by 127,000/150 basis points.
- Both a produce and meat manager have benefited from Hooker’s mentorship, and in February, she hosted Black History Month, offering entertainment and samples from local black-owned businesses.
Antoinette “Toni” Phillips
Store Director, Jewel-Osco Store #0607, Oak Lawn, Ill.
- A hands-on manager overseeing 200 employees, Phillips prioritizes fresh departments and in-stock positioning; as a result, sales at her location are now the second highest in the district.
- Year-over-year average store volume climbed from $625,000 to more than $900,000, a 33% increase; the store was $225,000 over projection in EBITDA sales during the second quarter and $300,000 over in the third; and in shrink, she beat projections by 20 basis points.
- Phillips has significantly grown the store’s ecommerce business, with weekly sales moving from $10,000 to $100,000.
Store Director, Jewel-Osco Store #3407, Chicago
- Wojnicki has transformed the culture among her 172 employees: Emphasizing teamwork, customer service, communication and a goal-oriented work ethic, her employee retention rate is 13.58% above the district average.
- In 2020, the store had seven managers in training, and she also hired 115 associates and promoted 16.
- Wojnicki is skilled in budgeting and operations management, and her efforts are evident in the location’s financial results: EBITDA increased 0.64%,; earnings rose $1,424,282, which was $321,513 over projection.; and year to date, gross profit margin increased by 1.95%.
Store Director, Jewel-Osco Store #2363, Oak Forest, Ill.
- Young exemplified store leadership during an unprecedented year, as seen by 21% sales growth year over year, 365-basis-point gross margin improvement, 95.7% increase in EBITA, and green/green scores on all food safety audits.
- She launched a pharmacy drive-thru clinic for customers reluctant to pick up prescriptions in-store during the pandemic, and used that opportunity to promote the store’s Drive Up & Go service, boosting pickup orders by 54%.
- Understanding that local police and fire departments were experiencing stress and uncertainty, Young donated food and hand sanitizer to express gratitude on behalf of the community.
Store Leader, King Soopers Store #45, Arvada, Colo., and Store #135, Lafayette, Colo.
- During 2020, Schaefer managed King Soopers Store #45, and by year’s end was promoted to Store #135 as a direct result of her outstanding leadership and sales performance; she has since led store #135 to achieve a 17.81% sales increase.
- As the pandemic shifted sales to buy online/pick up in store, she jumped into action to make sure that store associates could keep up with orders, even fulfilling some orders herself.
- Schaefer’s district manager lauds her for implementing “a great coaching and mentoring style that’s uplifting,” and notes that she’s been successful in training management candidates because of her “terrific leadership abilities”; meanwhile, she’s in her second year of chairing King Soopers’ Hispanic associate resource group.
Store Leader, Kroger Store #332, Zionsville, Ind.
- Focusing on the importance of the total store experience for customers and associates, Aryaeinejad made consistent improvements on controllable store conditions during the pandemic, including a meticulously organized back room, ongoing inventory maintenance to keep store shelves in stock, and leaning in on recognition for the front end team, which achieved “very good” ratings for Front End Friendly.
- She promoted several team members to leadership positions, developing a more effective team to handle the store’s growth.
- Aryaeinejad actively supports Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative and encourages her team to participate in fundraising.
Store Leader, Kroger Store #793, Okemos, Mich., and Store #887, Holt, Mich.
- Earlier in 2020, Flegal took on the role of interim store leader at store #793 in Okemos, Mich., while still balancing her other position as drug/GM sales manager. She was named store leader and helped grow sales by more than 13.5%, also leading the store through a full remodel.
- Not long after this success, she was promoted to a higher-volume store, #887, where she leaned in and improved sales to the extent that the store was considered a top 20 sales-increase store in the Michigan division.
- Flegal was chosen to participate in the future leaders program at FMI — The Food Industry Association, where she learned about managing during COVID-19.
Store Leader, Kroger Store #774, Versailles, Ky.
- Johnson led her team to add another $1.5 million to the bottom line at a rate of 1.48%, which is a 45% increase in EDITDA over the previous year; sales in 2020 improved by double digits, and her store was the first in the division to receive a 90% score from executive leadership.
- During the past year, she and her associates grew closer as they planned decisive actions during the challenges related to COVID-19; as more sales shifted online, they were successful in keeping their overall pick rate above the goal of 85%.
- Johnson led her store in strategically planning “Big and Bold” displays that included incremental tie-ins to capture additional sales growth.
Store Leader, Kroger Store #V-493, Clinton, Miss.
- Janos led her team to significant improvement in store sales and operations of the store, finishing the year with sales that outpaced the division by 4%; in addition to the sales improvements, her store had a 1.28% decrease in center store shrink.
- She created a culture of teaching, coaching and training to improve retention in her competitive job market, and was a dedicated mentor and trainer of new management trainees in her district.
- Janos volunteers at a local food pantry and has championed her store’s sponsorship of the Mississippi Blood Service with monthly blood drives.
Store Leader, Kroger Marketplace Store #858, Sandusky, Ohio
- Merrill’s store fell victim to a devastating arson fire that caused close to $1 million in damage; she managed the crisis by empowering her team and was able to reopen the high-volume location within five days — due in part to her close ties with first responders who initiated fire and health inspections quickly.
- Despite the fire and COVID-19, her store’s sales increased by more than 8%, preserving its position as one of the district’s revenue leaders.
- Merrill is an active member of the Women’s EDGE associate resource group in the Columbus division and mentors new store leaders across her district.
Store Leader, Kroger Store #465, Oakley, Ohio
- Arriving to manage the Oakley, Ohio, store just as the COVID-19 shutdowns began, Mijangos initiated such morale-boosting activities as an in-store graduation celebration for approximately 20 high school seniors working at the store; supported by small groups of family and friends, graduates walked up to a podium built at the store as their names were announced on the intercom, and they received bouquets and goodie bags.
- She and her team opened the building and parking lot to enable local businesses to sell their products.
- Mijangos’ store donated food and other products to a church feeding those who had become food insecure.
Store Leader, Kroger Store #824, West Lafayette, Ind.
- Nydegger leads a high-volume store doing more than $1 million in sales weekly and oversees approximately 230 associates; in 2020, her team achieved identical-sales growth 4.25 percentage points above its budgeted goal, despite the pandemic.
- With a focus on operational excellence, she led her team to deliver strong results in cost control and decreased shrink by more than the store’s budgeted goal.
- Nydegger is involved in community activities through her division’s Women’s EDGE associate resource group; she also led her store team to participate in Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative.
Store Manager, Lucky California Store #750, Dublin, Calif.
- Bradford’s strong leadership skills led her team to sales of more than $9 million, making her store the fifth most profitable under the Lucky/Lucky California banner; she exceeded sales projection by $867,129, EBITDA projection by $610,769, and shrink percentage versus budget results by more than 1.23%.
- She collaborated with the ethnic team to reach new households, increasing sales and profits in these categories.
- As the force behind many events — the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, the Easter egg hunt, a scavenger hunt, and a splatter celebration in the local park — Bradford was given the Community Involvement Award and Community Partner Award by the company’s partner school.
Executive Store Leader, Market District Store #4086, Strongsville, Ohio
- Graaf-Kurta is currently mentoring nine individuals, providing advice, feedback and guidance toward the next step in their careers; for the past four years, she has also stepped up to serve as a mentor in Giant Eagle’s Retail Internship Program.
- She serves as a store leader master trainer, having already successfully led four assistant store leaders down the path to become store leaders.
- Graaf-Kurta has also actively led and participated in several volunteer events, among them fundraisers for the Salvation Army, Rainbow Babies and Children, and the Greater Cleveland Foodbank.
Store Director, Meijer Store #196, Portage, Mich.
- Bower and her team achieved an 11% sales increase and the highest sales ever for their store in 2020, and her store beat both its shrink and fresh shrink goals; Meijer’s survey for team member engagement at her store resulted in the 12th-highest score in the company and the highest in the Kalamazoo, Mich., market.
- During COVID-19, her store helped area food banks and joined with local schools, providing backpacks to take home food during virtual learning.
- Bower’s store joined with locally owned eateries, purchasing meals both to thank the store team and support local restaurants.
Store Director, Meijer Store #137, Lafayette, Ind.
- In a rough year, Griffis and her team exceeded their sales goal by more than $8 million and their shrink plan by .08%, and also surpassed goals in direct margin, labor/wages and variable expense; further, she went beyond her total direct contribution plan by more than $2 million.
- She is currently mentoring two line leaders, a team leader and two team members.
- Griffis has won several awards and earned her Food Retail Certificate; active in her community, she volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement and other organizations, and also serves as the chair for women of the Meijer Central region division.
Store Director, Meijer Store #051, Findlay, Ohio
- Having just completed her first full year as a store director, Pickens is highly appreciative of her team and shows that through special events; the store team also participates in community outreach together.
- Even during COVID-19, the team provided much needed support to the store’s community through financial assistance and acts of service, especially for City Mission, a homeless shelter.
- Pickens was selected by senior leadership to participate in the FMI Future Leaders Food Retail Certificate Program, and was named the Toledo Market White Glove Champion for Meijer.
Store Director, Meijer Store #179, Coldwater Mich.
- Quintana achieved exceptional financial results in the past year: She increased top-line sales by 19% and direct margin by 16% when compared with last year.
- Her work with several team members resulted in four being promoted into their first leadership positions; she also focused on the growth and development of her leadership staff.
- Quintana serves as a market mentor for new store directors; she completed a leadership certification course through FMI and currently attends Grand Rapids Community College, pursuing a retail management certificate.
Store Director, Meijer Store #318, Lorain, Ohio
- Robinson led her team leaders in teaching, training and coaching a staff of 350 for a new store opening while COVID-19 protocols were in place; she worked with the construction team to safely open the store without outside store support teams or vendors to build fixtures, set planograms, or stock shelves and displays.
- The new store has exceeded sales expectations since opening in July 2020, ending the year with $31 million versus a plan of $26 million in sales; it currently has 23% market share.
- Robinson serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club.
Lead Pharmacist, Osco Drug Store #2488, Bourbonnais, Ill.
- Wottell supervises the pharmacy in Bourbonnais, IL, where sales increased 5% last year. Her team administered 2,700 flu shots, a 20% increase, while the number of Shingrix vaccines averaged 20 weekly, a 10% increase. Wottell also runs off-site COVID-19 vaccine clinics for local businesses and nursing homes, and every year, she participates in two to four health fairs through local businesses and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
- When COVID-19 closed many doctors’ offices, her team offered injections for patients with behavioral issues, and they also prepared medications for a local nursing home and administered flu vaccines at a neighborhood homeless shelter.
- Wottell has frequently delivered medications to patients personally.
Store Manager, Publix Store #0561, Marietta, Ga.
- Davis challenged department managers to work as one unit, which led her store to have an organized back room and storage areas, produce high-quality items, and consistently offer outstanding customer service.
- She was recognized by the district as one of the top coaches by other store managers, and as well as mentoring new store managers, she invests in each of her associates, which helps supply the district with more contenders leading to management.
- Davis’ annual associate satisfaction results were outstanding, with an overall score of 86.4% and a store manager score of 96%.
Store Manager, Publix Store #0723, Decatur, Ga.
- Having been transferred to a new store during the COVID-19 pandemic, Prince quickly met one on one with every associate to get to know them and learn about their career goals, personal ambitions and outside interests.
- She led a mentoring program for newly promoted managers in her district; her track record includes 15 associate promotions into management roles.
- Prince also took on additional district responsibilities with community projects to ensure that her district team was visible and impactful in the communities they served, and she developed an agenda for the district manager to use when visiting with incoming managers.
Abbie Van Wagner
Assistant Store Manager, Publix Store #1111, Gainesville, Fla.
- With her creative mind and eye for merchandising, Van Wagner championed merchandising efforts that are now corporately sponsored events, such as displays for national food holidays and Pi Day.
- Using her technology skills, she conducted informal research on how to better appeal to Gen Z associates through surveying and statistical analysis, implementing programs to better meet the needs of a changing workforce and an informal mentorship program for new hires.
- Van Wagner demonstrates her commitment to community by tutoring children who are learning English in countries all over the world, and she’s finishing her final semester at the University of Florida.
Store Director, Safeway Store #379, Grants Pass, Ore.
- By relying on careful planning and execution, Blake led her team to excel, resulting in a 17% year-over-year increase in sales and department profits above the district average.
- Seen as a positive leader among store directors in the district, she has been selected to mentor new store directors in everyday operations.
- During record-breaking Oregon wildfires, Blake helped coordinate a canned-food drive for local victims; she also volunteered on an outreach team affiliated with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Store Director, Safeway Store #2908, Eureka, Calif.
- In addition to adapting to the challenges of COVID-19, Emmot provided outstanding leadership and community support amid the stresses of nearby wildfires and California public-safety power shutdowns.
- As one of the top performers in her district, she achieved a year-over-year sales increase of 19%, and an 11% increase in EBITDA in 2020.
- Emmot has become a local managerial resource and mentor for the store directors of the five other stores in her market, and she’s eagerly working with her own mentor as she aspires to a position at the district level.
Store Director, Safeway Store #2449 in Napa, Calif.
- Fisher started 2020 managing an inner-city location in Vallejo, Calif., where she improved store standards, merchandising and associate engagement.
- After the store was looted during the civil unrest, she and her associates arrived the next morning at sunrise to commence cleaning, and the store was open for business within hours.
- Following those successes, Fisher was assigned to manage a store in Napa, Calif., with 72% higher volume; since her arrival, the store has achieved green/green/green scores in food safety and top Hunger Bag sales in its area, and store sales are on an upward trend.
Store Director, Safeway Store #2790, Portland, Ore.
- The store Hall manages is located in an area that experienced outbreaks of unrest, rioting and looting for months after civil rights protests ended elsewhere, but Hall continued to execute at a high level while maintaining a safe store environment for customers and associates.
- Her district manager described her as a “strong leader who commands and receives a high level of respect” from her associates, leadership team and customers.
- Hall is a Retail Leadership Development trainer and frequently volunteers at homeless shelters near her store.
Store Director, Safeway Store #1751, Molalla, Ore.
- Kauble was recently appointed store director at a high-volume store, where she calmly led her team through the Oregon wildfires that closed the store for four days; she reopened the store with minimal staffing, as evacuations affected some associates.
- She has taken on additional responsibilities at times, such as covering for the district’s bakery operations specialist and leading a private label challenge in which her district took first place.
- Kauble donated grocery and deli items to sustain firefighters battling the wildfires.
Store Director, Safeway Store #1827, La Grande, Ore.
- Kranz navigated the challenges of COVID-19 without an assistant store director and still managed to achieve record-setting sales in her store.
- As a member of the Retail Leadership Development program, she mentored, developed and trained two grocery managers.
- Kranz was actively engaged with the Friday Backpack Program, which provides elementary school students in need with food for weekends and holidays; she acts as a role model for giving back in the community and recruits many of her associates to volunteer with her.
Store Director, Safeway Store #382, Portland, Ore.
- Madary keeps her store team focused on results with a direct leadership style and high standards as she manages a store in a high-poverty location; she’s an active participant in frequent community and city meetings to discuss challenging local issues.
- Multilingual and able to speak Cantonese, she helps her division with translation and associate training for its Chinese Chef program.
- Madary frequently works with local organizations on city beautification efforts and community cleanup projects; During the pandemic, she began a partnership with the Portland Rescue Mission.
Store Director, Safeway Store #1472, Mount Vernon, Wash.
- Under Marshall’s leadership, her store exceeded budgeted sales targets and achieved four food safety green scores — for total store food safety, total store sanitation, no food safety issues in the deli, and no sanitation issues in that department.
- She graduated from the Retail Leadership Certificate program in December and serves as district trainer for the assistant store director program, helping to coach, teach and train nine associates who have become assistant store directors, and currently mentoring two more.
- Marshall’s store almost doubled its budget for selling Hunger Bags to customers for donation to local food banks.
Store Manager, Save Mart Store, Ceres, Calif.
- Lambert has been instrumental in putting together innovation training programs for the new flagship store in Modesto, Calif.; she was an integral part of the planning and training that went into making this store a success.
- She led her team to increase sales to $28.6 million, a $8 million increase; gross sales rose to $10.5 million, an increase of 36.6% gross percentage.
- Lambert is deeply involved with the Ceres, Calif., community: She serves on the Ceres Chamber Commerce board of directors, participated in the Ceres Street Faire, assisted in organizing the annual Agribusiness Luncheon and Wine Stroll, and helped clean up the on/off ramps along Highway 99.
Store Director, Shaw’s Store # 2579, Hyde Park, Mass.
- By bringing in new equipment and focusing on customer service and generating loyalty, Ricci increased seafood department sales by more than 50% and drove out local competition.
- Her positive feedback from the associate experience survey ranked highest in the district and placed in the top 10 for the division.
- Ricci was voted Human of the Month by the Keep Massachusetts Beautiful organization for her efforts in cleaning and maintaining the exterior of her store, and was recognized by the Boston Celtics organization, the NBA and MA Lottery as a Hero Among Us for community efforts during the pandemic.
General Manager, Shelton’s Grocery, Waurika, Okla., and Walters Hometown Grocery, Walters, Okla.
- In March 2020, Good began her own social media project, The Grocery Gal, to promote the supermarket industry and the two stores she manages; she has worked to address hot topics like sales tax and rising egg prices, and has spent countless hours reaching out to lawmakers and other officials to advocate for the industry.
- In January 2021 she received a Gold Plate Award in the Rising Star category from the FMI Foundation for a Family Meals Month program she executed.
- Good has participated in the Shop Local Waurika Committee for the Waurika Chamber of Commerce for the past two years; for the 2020 program, she transitioned previously planned in-person events into safe experiences.
Store Manager, Smart & Final Store #727, Compton, Calif.
- As store manager, Fernandez concentrates on associate development which led to a record-breaking year financially; to make sure her associates are all on the same page, she holds huddles with her team, during which important information is communicated.
- Her store was in an area of civil unrest, but she and her team kept a positive attitude and continually partnered with the community in any way possible; as a result, her comparative-store sales beat both budgeted sales and profit numbers.
- Fernandez volunteers with Reading across America and a local program helping special- needs adults.
Store Manager, Smart & Final Store #432, Mountain View, Calif.
- Ramirez put programs in place to improve the overall financial performance of her store to achieve a more than 20% sales comparative-store sales increase, and her shrink efforts paid off: Store #432 was removed from the Shrink Focus program, becoming one of the lowest-shrink locations in the district; this improved her management adjusted EBITDA by almost 700% versus the prior year.
- She volunteered for the additional responsibilities of hiring and staffing her district, ensuring that there were enough employees during the pandemic, and she also assisted in training.
- Ramirez helped drive participation in company donation programs such as Olive Crest and the City of Hope mobile drive.
Store Director, Super 1 Foods Store #628, Pine Bluff, Ark.
- From January through April 2020, Hatley led two Super 1 Foods stores simultaneously until an opening could be filled at one of the locations.
- Selected in February 2020 to lead her current store, she was able to keep her employee turnover rate well below the company’s average throughout the pandemic; meanwhile, sales increased 11.42%, gross profit increased 2.59%, and shrink was reduced by 1.20%.
- Hatley was selected as a Store Director of the Year in 2020 for Brookshire Grocery Co.; in addition to her work, she is deeply involved in the Pine Bluff, Ark., community through her volunteer efforts.
Store Director, Tom Thumb Store #0296, McKinney Texas
- Tapp creates exciting themed events that draw customers into her store and elevate total store sales; her high store standards and innovative merchandising helped raise total store sales by more than 18% for the year on average.
- She facilitates center store conference calls, travels to individual stores for inventory checks and assists with the process, as well as overseeing center store merchandising guidelines to help stores execute their marketing plans.
- In a first for her store, Tapp fulfilled an $11,000 turkey order for a school district that fed 750 families in the community, personally delivering the turkeys to the high school.
Store Manager, Tops Store #578, Elmira, N.Y.
- Grimes’ team achieved approximately $2 million above her budgeted sales, boosted total store margin dollars by $1.09 million versus the prior year and improved total shrink by .78% basis points; also, by developing her team, she reduced WIC claims by 50%.
- She motivated her associates to exceed projected goals for community fundraisers and raised an extra 4% collectively for organizations such as United Way and Children’s Miracle Network.
- Grimes took on a district training role for incoming operations managers and managers on duty, and worked with the training and development department as an observer for the simulated “day in the life of a store manager” training.
Store Director, Trig’s, Minocqua, Wis.
- As a store director, Brayshaw is able to build successful teams, using her inspirational leadership style to turn morale around and fostering a positive place to work, all while significantly increasing profitability.
- While working as a director of the grocer’s produce and floral departments, she developed new programs, sourced products, led merchandising and assisted store teams at eight locations, leading to a 12% increase in sales.
- Brayshaw is currently assisting the grocer with its training systems to improve associate engagement, and ultimately retention, which will help it work to overcome and reduce costs of turnover.
Store Director, Vons Store #2374, Big Bear Lake, Calif.
- Schultz increased sales by 17%, her EBITDA was $1.8 million over the projection, and her flow-through was 28%.
- Despite the difficulties of pandemic, she successfully completed a store remodel in June 2020.
- In September 2020, Schultz took on a temporary assignment to run one of the top stores in the division; her innovative ideas to improve the store’s operations and the positive impact that her leadership had on the associates led to her permanent transfer to the store.