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Don’t Be Afraid to Be Amazing

Grocers deserve more appreciation and recognition for their work
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
John's Market
John and Laurie Simpson, co-owners of John’s Market, are known for helping neighbors in need.



On my desk I have a little wooden sign with a gold frame around it. The sign says, “Don’t be afraid to be amazing.” This is my guiding force every day as I do my very best to shine a light on the wonderful industry we call grocery.

One of our favorite things to do at Progressive Grocer is to shine that light on the industry through our awards programs, many of which began accepting nominations this past January. Our Top Women in Grocery, GenNext, and Impact Awards are the leading and most prestigious honors in the industry for women, the next generation of grocery leaders, and those companies leading the way on sustainability topics such as food waste, diversity and recycling. We will celebrate all of these honorees during our special Grocery Industry Week events in November in Orlando, Fla.

We also have our Editors’ Picks contest, Category Captains and Outstanding Independents, which we just celebrated with a beautiful and emotional reception at the NGA Show in Las Vegas. We honored 25 indie grocers who all have a heartwarming story to tell about how they are truly making a difference in their communities. Independent operators such as Isom IGA, Redner’s Markets, Rademacher’s, and John’s Markets were honored, and it is a great privilege for us at Progressive Grocer to stand among these heroes, knowing the work they do every day to make their customers’ live just a little more special.

The owners of Troy, Kansas-based John’s Market were interviewed by their local newspaper, the St. Joseph News-Press, a few days after the reception. “Personally, I was in shock,” John Simpson, co-owner of John’s Market, told the newspaper. “I didn’t dream that our small store would even have a chance in a nationwide contest like this, but we were overjoyed.” I congratulated co-owners John and Laurie Simpson at the reception, but there’s something that I should have told them. I should have said, “Thank you for not being afraid to be amazing.”

John and Laurie’s store is the textbook definition of a hometown, family-run, rural grocery store. Troy is located about 70 miles north of Kansas City and has a population of approximately 7,500, with a median household income of $54,792. Without John’s Market, a lot of people in this community wouldn’t have access to quality groceries or quality customer service.

John’s Market is famous for helping neighbors in need. From offering special hours after a game to provide food to athletes, to delivering necessities to a customer whose house burned down on Thanksgiving, the retailer serves its community without hesitation.

Recently, one customer received a breast cancer diagnosis. Her family tradition for Thanksgiving was making oyster salad, but she was too sick to travel, so John’s Market brought the oysters to her. During the pandemic, John’s Market was the community’s “security blanket.” The retailer adjusted its business model and began offering contactless delivery, accepting phone orders and providing special shopping times for the most vulnerable, as well as adding online pizza ordering, pre-made sub sandwiches and much more.

John’s Market is a great reminder that grocery stores and their workers are a lifeline to communities across this great country. They show up every day to serve everyone, no matter the circumstances, whether they have spent 40 days or 40 years on the job, whether they are a large chain or a one-store operator like John’s Market. Grocery workers more often than not are never afraid to be amazing. And they deserve a lot more recognition than they receive. So send in those nominations for Top Women in Grocery, GenNext, Impact Awards, and our other programs. After an extraordinarily challenging few years, this industry deserves more recognition for its good deeds.

[For the complete list of Progressive Grocer's awards that honor the industry's amazing contributions, click here.]

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