Beyond Price: Maintain company values

Failure to survive The Great Recession was not an option for Balistreri-owned and operated Sendik’s Food Markets.

Co-owner Ted Balistreri said he was not going to let the economic downturn prevent the company from reaching its goals or from providing quality food at good prices to its loyal customers.

During the recession, the company continued to operate as an upscale grocery chain. In 2007, Sendik’s Food Markets opened stores in Greenfield, Elm Grove, Franklin and Germantown, just before the recession began, and the company plans to open another store in New Berlin in November.
“I don’t think we’ve done anything particularly different through the downturn,” Balistreri said. “Obviously we were aware of the situation, and monitored it closely, but our goals and our core values remained exactly the same. If anything, the downturn strengthened our core values and made us stronger as an organization.”
Balistreri said he believes that the best way to succeed in any difficult economic time is to continue to offer and even enhance the services the organization has provided in the past. The key to success is listening to the customers and knowing what they need and want from their grocer, he said.
“We have always believed in offering great value, customer service, quality products, knowledgeable associates and clean stores for our customers,” Balistreri said. “This organization has deep Milwaukee roots. As a family, we’ve been a part of this community since the 1920s, and we’ve always tried to not just run a business.”
Sendik’s has a strong involvement in all of the communities where its stores are located, Balistreri said.
“It’s that community involvement that helps us be a part of our neighborhoods and is a large part of who we are as an organization,” he said.
Sendik’s Food Market has been an active participant in neighborhood holiday festivals and has continued to support multiple local charities, including the Penfield’s Children’s Center, Feeding America-Southeastern Wisconsin, ABCD and The MACC fund, even through the recession, Balistreri said.
“We have always supported local efforts,” he said. “We know that the money and products that we contribute to those causes and organizations is going to directly impact the communities we operate in.”
According to Balistreri, the store did make its marking efforts a little more personal throughout the recession.
The stores ran multiple promotions and day sales on fresh produce, meats and organic products.
“We were really aware of the needs of the communities around us,” Ballistreri said. “And we know our customers appreciated being able to get good quality products and good quality service at a price they could afford. At Sendik’s we believe our customer shouldn’t have to pay more to be treated nicely or to get the best quality products for their money. That’s an expectation that we have always and will continue to live by.”

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