Taking Stock

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Local Notes

We originally guessed that the Ravitz family, which owns five high-volume ShopRites in Southern New Jersey (and building a sixth unit in Camden), would be the initial Wakefern member to own a PriceRite store (and that may still happen), but kudos to the Inserra family for becoming the first in what promises to be growing group of current ShopRite members to offset their bellwether banner with the smaller, more discount-oriented Price Rite format. And you’ve got to give Wakefern another tip of the cap (yes, another one) for having the vision, flexibility and cojones to keep driving sales and providing viable options to current and future member-owners. Once the Fresh Grocer offset model is rolled out throughout the network, Wakefern will become even more formidable and “go to market” ready… Allegiance Retail Services, LLC, the growing Iselin, NJ-based independent retail support and services firm, last month announced the election of its board of managers at the company’s annual membership meeting, which was held at the company’s headquarters. Reelected to the board were: David Maniaci, chairman and CEO; Louis Scaduto Jr., vice chairman; Michael Stolarz, president and COO; Daniel Katz, secretary;  and Esmail Mobarek, treasurer.…Supervalu’s independent (wholesale) business will consolidate from three regions to two, forming new east and west teams, the Eden Prairie, MN retailer/wholesaler announced late last month. The new east and west independent business regions will be located in Mechanicsville, VA and Hopkins, MN. To lead the new organizations, Supervalu has named the very talented Kevin Kemp president of the east region and Bill Chew president of the west region. With this new independent business organization, Supervalu said it will streamline the organization and reduce operating costs while continuing to drive sales growth with its current and prospective customers. Initially, the company anticipates reducing its employee workforce by approximately 200 positions throughout its independent business regional teams. Impacted employees will have an opportunity to apply for open positions within the new organization. Supervalu said it expects to fill approximately 120 new independent business jobs resulting in a net workforce reduction in its independent business organization as a result of this consolidation of approximately 80 positions… a tip of the hat to Weis Markets, whose third annual “Believe in Heroes” campaign helped raise $115,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. “We are proud of our store associates who helped make this campaign a success and would like to thank our generous customers for purchasing select products or who directly donated to the cause at the register. Together, we have raised $115,000 for our nation’s wounded veterans,” said Kurt Schertle, Weis Markets’ COO. “The Believe in Heroes program benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project is something we look forward to supporting for years to come.”…kudos to Jan Gabriel, president of Paul G. Nester & Son, who was the first to answer our Harold Ramis movie trivia contest last month in which we asked our readers to pair lines from a Ramis inspired movie with the character or actor who uttered them. Here are the correct connections: 1) “Oh, this is your wife, huh? A lovely lady. Hey baby, you must’ve been something before electricity.” (“Caddyshack”/Rodney Dangerfield playing Al Czervik); 2) “I got laid off when they closed that asbestos factory, and wouldn’t you know it, the Army cuts my disability pension because they said that the plate in my head wasn’t big enough.” (“National Lampoon’s Vacation”/Randy Quaid playing Cousin Eddie); 3) “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” (“Animal House”/John Vernon playing Dean Wormer); 4) “C’mon, it’s Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick ‘em up, we zip right out again. We’re not going to Moscow. It’s Czechoslovakia. It’s like going into Wisconsin.” (“Stripes”/Bill Murray playing John Winger; 5) “I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities and we didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results.” (“Ghostbusters”/Dan Aykroyd playing Dr. Raymond Stantz); 6) “The football team at my high school, they were tough. After they sacked the quarterback, they went after his family.” (“Back To School”/Rodney Dangerfield playing Thornton Melon; and 7) “This is pitiful – 1,000 people freezing their butts off to worship a rat.” (“Groundhog Day”/Bill Murray playing Phil)…a few obits to report this month. From the food industry, including Erv Schummer, owner of the Valley Farm Market in Bethlehem, PA which he founded in 1970. Schummer immigrated to the U.S. from Austria as a boy and became a “Little All-America” football player at MuhlenbergCollege in Allentown. I remember Erv as an extraordinarily nice man and an extremely hard worker and very good operator. He was only 64 when he passed. Also passing was Mickey Rooney, a legendary name in entertainment circles for nine decades (he started his show biz career at age two), who passed away earlier this month at the age of 93. What a life he led – married eight times, (once to Ava Gardner), winner of two Academy Awards, an Emmy and two Golden Globes and father of nine children – Rooney was an all-around interesting guy. While he’s best remembered for his role in the 14 movie “Andy Hardy” series and as Whitey Marsh, the juvenile delinquent helped by Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy) in “Boys Town” (1938), my favorite Rooney role was as Army, the blindly loyal trainer to beaten up and worn-down prizefighter Mountain Rivera (Anthony Quinn) in the great 1962 film “Requiem For A Heavyweight.” Rooney’s work, while as a supporting star, was simply great as was the acting of Quinn and Jackie Gleason who played Maishe Rennick, Rivera’s less than reputable promoter. However, what’s most imprinted on me about Mickey Rooney’s career was the incessant promotion (this was before infomercials) as the pitchman for The Downingtown Motor Inn in the 1970s (I guess I watched way too much TV  back then). By the way, the land on which the long extinct hotel once sat is now home to a Wegmans and aBJ’s Warehouse Club (you knew I’d find a grocery connection). Also passing on earlier this month was Jesse Winchester, 69, the great (and underrated) singer/songwriter whose eponymous first album in 1970 still remains one of the favorite best debut records in my collection. Winchester, who was born in Louisiana and raised in the South, fled to Canada in 1967 to avoid the draft. He gained fame performing in coffee houses in Montreal and it was there that he met Canadian Robbie Robertson, lead guitar player and primary songwriter of the great roots group, “The Band.”  Robertson produced Winchester’s first album which contained such unsung excellent songs as “Payday;” “Biloxi;” “Snow;” “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz;” and “That’s The Touch I Like.” With a voice not dissimilar to James Taylor’s and the ability to write and sing in a pleasing style, Jesse Winchester’s talents are certainly worth checking out. And finally, my sympathies to my co-worker Maria Maggio, her mom Rosalie, her two brothers, Michael and Larry, her children Gino and Rosalie, and the rest of the large Maggio clan on the passing of her father, Mario Maggio, earlier this month. Mario Maggio was the former president of Maggio Cheese Co., an iconic Philadelphia brand if there ever was one, who led the family business that was started by his father Michael, in 1916. In 1998, the Maggio family sold the company to Crowley Foods (now owned by H.P. Hood). Although small in stature, Mario Maggio was a giant of a man – beloved by his family, admired by his associates and highly respected by his industry peers. Even at an age – 94 – that most of us will never realize, Mario was still cracking jokes, dressing as nattily as ever and enjoying life. May you rest in peace.