The Spring Taste of Ric’s had some beautiful weather and a ton of graduation parties as competition, yet the store was busy and sampling was steady as an estimated 2,500 people came through. The event has become a tradition for Ric’s Food C enter as a chance to thank loyal customers, show off to new friends and let suppliers meet first hand with the people who purchase their products.
Taking time to talk with the people handing out delicious samples from every department in the store is an education and a reminder that we live in a small world still. The woman handing out spaghetti sauce from Morano offered several varieties. The company is local, as are many who show up loyally year after year to help with the Taste of Ric’s events. Based out of Norton Shores, the owner, Greg Morano, uses the exact same recipe that his grandmother used in Tuscany, Italy.
The man offering barbeque sauce on smoked brisket is planning on marketing the product soon and has been very involved with the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. Keith is currently helping the Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce as that organization becomes active again. He said he coordinated with Store Director David Brickner in the Taste. When he knew beef brisket was going to be one of the many items on sale for the one-day event, he took briskets and smoked them, then showed up to offer the delicious meat with samples of his own sauce as compliment.
Brickner choose a Hawaiian theme for the day because spring and summer are such fun times of year. He said it was refreshing to be able to wear casual clothes at work and is considering letting staff dress more casually during the weekends throughout the summer season. If you see him, let him know if you think this is a good idea.
In addition to showing what the store has to offer and as a thank you for shopping, this Taste of Ric’s was a special one as the store passed the five year milestone at the location at 6969 Belding Road and as part of the Rockford community.
“We are amazed at how fast five years has come and gone,” said Brickner. “A lot of things have changed in the last five years—my wife and son and myself have gotten to enjoy all that the Rockford area has to offer, from the trails to the near weekly activities that Rockford offers. When we moved here our son was not even in school yet and now he is almost done with the third grade and he keeps us running from dawn to dusk.”
Brickner is also excited that Ric’s has purchased the building the store is in, a huge step and a clear commitment to continuing to serve the area. Brickner said the lack of progress on the development that surrounds the store has been of concern. As the economy continues to improve and the property is under new ownership, he believes the future is bright for this area. The current work on the new development Knockadoon, just down the road from Ric’s (call Jeannine Herlacker if you would like to visit sites) is another sign of a recovering economy.
Finally, Brickner believes that the success of the store is because people appreciate the company philosophy of doing business.
“Our overall message is still the same—that we want to serve our customers with great old fashioned service,” he stated. ”We don’t do it because an employee manual tells us to, we do it because we like what we do and it’s the way that it should be. We still do carry outs . we still don’t have self check out registers . We do all the bottle returns ourselves. It’s not because our systems are out of date. It’s because we see that’s what our customers want.”
Brickner said most of the grocery industry made the decision to change to self check-out registers and bottle counting machines. “We still see the difference it makes to the customer and in turn it makes us better at our jobs.”
“We have learned a lot and sometimes we have to change with what is going on in the economy or things that may change in the grocery world. But our goal is to be your every day grocery store. I have said—and mean it—our customers at Ric’s Food Center in Rockford are some of the politest, friendly and generous people I have waited on in the twenty-five years I have been in retail. Every time we let a group come here to sell goods for a fund raiser or donations the response is almost always the same—they are always impressed with the giving nature of our customers.”