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IGA Bestows Awards of Excellence

Retailers, partners honored at annual ceremony during The NGA Show
IGA USA International Retailer of the Year Nemenz IGA Main Image
The final honor of IGA's Awards of Excellence ceremony went to Judy and Don Gabriele, who received the IGA USA International Retailer of the Year designation.

The Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) recognized members and partners from around the world at the IGA Awards of Excellence Ceremony, held March 11 during The NGA Show in Las Vegas. Awards went to independent grocery retailers and CPG and service provider partners for a range of best practices and innovations, including excellent fresh food merchandising and overall innovation. 

The awards were as follows:

Red Oval Partners of the Year, for exceptional service and dedication to IGA retailers over the past year: Software provider BRdata and Nestlé Purina PetCare

CEO Award, for an IGA member who goes above and beyond to make positive change within the alliance and the communities it serves: Jimmy Wright, Wright’s Market, Opelika, Ala.

[RELATED: IGA Names Top Independent Grocers]

 “Despite having a thriving grocery business of his own to run, Jimmy Wright has made it his mission to do everything in his power to help independent retailers address food insecurity, from offering his insights on pricing strategies for economically challenged communities and helping small-format independents in urban and rural areas get established, to fighting for food nutrition legislation that benefits at-risk families and evens the playing field for independents,” said IGA President and CEO John Ross. 

IGA USA Retailers of the Year, for exemplary work in the grocery industry over the past year. All were put forward by their wholesalers as their top retailers. The honorees received additional awards for their outstanding service and were welcomed to the stage by Ross, IGA Chairman Mark Batenic and host Michael Sansolo:

  • IGA USA Retailer of the Year and Innovation Award: John and Chad Cropper, Crop’s Fresh Marketplace, Downingtown, Pa. 

  • IGA USA Retailer of the Year and People Development Award: Debbie Jacques Malone, KJ’s Market, Greenwood, S.C.

  • IGA USA Retailer of the Year and Meat Merchandising Award: Dan Holt & Joe Lauria, Holt’s IGA, Fayetteville, Tenn.

  • IGA USA Retailer of the Year and Quality & Value Award: Tim Forshee, Price Less IGA #484, Bowling Green, Ky.

  • IGA USA Retailer of the Year and the Ricky St. John Taking Care of People Award: Rob Hilleary, Pocahontas IGA, Marlinton, W.V.

  • IGA USA Retailer of the Year and Hometown Hero Award: Jim Floyd, Bruce Westre and Bud Samuelson, Hammer & Wikan, Petersburg, Alaska

  • IGA USA Retailer of the Year and Fresh Merchandising Award: Ben Painter and Greg Wasley, SPD Markets, Grass Valley, Calif.

  • IGA USA Retailer of the Year and Leadership Award: Jeff and Kristie Maurer, Maurer's Market IGA, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

“This year’s group of Retailers of the Year have developed stores that I want down the street from my home,” noted Ross. “And I’m thrilled to share what they’re doing with everyone here tonight so we can recognize them publicly and leave here inspired with new ideas.”

IGA International Retailers of the Year: Spero Tsapaliaris and Philip Funnell, Saints Foodland, South Australia, Metcash Food, Australia, and Abu Khatib and Suhail Bayat, Super Save Foodtown Hyper, KwaZulu-Natal, Unitrade Management Service (UMS), South Africa

The final award went to Judy and Don Gabriele, who received the IGA USA International Retailer of the Year designation. Their store, Nemenz IGA in Struthers, Ohio, is served by Laurel Grocery Co. 

“Nemenz IGA is truly a festival of food,” observed Ross. “The bakery is one of the best you’ll see anywhere, with handmade packzis for Mardi Gras and cakes made by one of their 30 bakery employees. But it’s more than just one department that makes Nemenz one of the finest grocery stores in the world. It’s custom local products, like the store-ground sausage made from a family recipe that local Italian restaurants use and customers drive from neighboring states to buy; it’s their creative events, like ‘Sip and Decorate’ evenings where shoppers learn how to decorate a themed cake while sipping on a glass of wine; it’s their commitment to community through tens of thousands of dollars of donations to local organizations every year; and an artisan  approach to food without artisan pricing.”

Chicago-based IGA is the world’s largest voluntary supermarket network, with aggregate worldwide retail sales of more than $43 billion annually. The alliance comprises more than 6,200 stores worldwide, with operations in 46 of the United States and more than 25 countries, commonwealths and territories. 

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