Soup To Nutz

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We’re in the middle of this season’s fifth heat wave in the Greater Delaware Valley and I feel those lazy, hazy summer days creeping up on me. That didn’t stop me from traveling the 300 or so miles south to witness the newest entries in the fiercely competitive retail markets of Hampton Roads and Richmond, VA. It was worth the drive. Lidl (remember to pronounce it Lee-dle, like needle) has opened the first two groups of stores with the third coming in the next week or so. Lidl leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to store layout. Every store is exactly the same using the strategy that when you shop Lidl, you will always know where to find the products you use. But don’t retailers want customers browsing for that ever-elusive impulse buy? The produce was appealing and well merchandised. The same can be said for the dry grocery, dairy/deli/frozen items and the bins of non-food merchandise. The bakery was inviting and the sweet baked goods’ aromas penetrated the air. Packaging is attractive, ala Wegmans’ private brand. I wasn’t impressed with the meat department, unfortunately. Prices were well below the competition, in almost all categories. The stores are clean and shiny; the employees are helpful and friendly (or is that just a Southern thing?); and customers are leaving with full carts. What does the future hold? Too early to tell, but with the new normal of more-than-one-stop-shopping, Lidl may be cherry-picked more than they had planned. As for the comparison to its competitor, Aldi, pricing may be better, but we eat with our eyes, and Lidl has the upper hand on packaging merchandising. Next, it was on to the Publix store in the brand new Nuckols Place Shopping Center, where I was pleasantly surprised with the new ground up store’s layout. The 50,000 square foot store was teeming with customers on its third day of business. They were waiting in line for hot foods. Never mind that the prices are higher than Kroger, Lidl and Wegmans, the aura of the Publix name screams quality and the folks in this upwardly mobile section of Richmond are willing to pay for it. The new store looks nothing like its relatives in Florida, featuring an open gallery with emphasis on prepared foods and bakery, plus an in store Starbucks, service meat and fish counters. They also have a drive-thru pharmacy. At least one of the Publix time tested traditions continues – an employee will gladly walk you to your car and load it up for you. With a smile. Welcome to Virginia.

Another Fancy Food Show has come and gone without much fanfare. Some logistical changes made it easier on the feet (the north pavilion was not used for exhibits) and

the weather cooperated with low humidity. Inside, the traffic was moderate and the vendors were eager to show their wares. So many people, myself included, now start downstairs as the exhibitors there are usually the smaller vendors who have something new and interesting to show. From the land of Kansas, Safely Delicious, an allergy friendly snack company touted its products as being gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free, egg free and vegan. Were they made of air? Nope. The snacks were sweet and crunchy and would certainly suffice if a life threatening allergy or celiac disease limits the intake of mainstream snacks. I also checked out Spindrift sparkling water (and real squeezed juice) which had no carbs, and it was refreshing. Yogurt is one of my favorite foods, but not Greek yogurt. So, I was glad to find French yogurt making a comeback. My favorite was an organic brand, Saint Benoit, from California. I tasted more cheese than I could eat, but my two preferred types were Redclay Gourmet pimento cheese from North Carolina which I have become too fond of since my recent visit to Charleston, SC, and La-Di-Da Lavender Cheese from Rogue Creamery in Oregon which was quite fragrant. This show has something for everyone. When you think there are no food products left to discover, head to either the Winter or Summer Fancy Food Show. You will be glad you did.

This year’s in-store Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) balloon campaign that was recently run at all Giant/Martin’s stores yielded $655,274 which was then donated to CMN Hospitals. “For more than 20 years we have been honored to support our local CMN Hospitals, who provide critical treatments and healthcare services that help kids live healthy lives,” said Tom Lenkevich, president of the Carlisle, PA based division of Ahold USA. “Thank you to our customers and associates for their dedication and generosity to our CMN kids!” Giant/Martin’s is one of the top 10 fundraisers in the country for CMN hospitals, having donated more than $40 million over the past 21 years. In addition to the annual in-store campaigns during the summer and at the holidays, associates also regularly volunteer at CMN Hospital events, including radio and television telethons. “We’re once again thrilled with Giant Carlisle’s outstanding commitment to CMN Hospitals in 2017,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of CMN Hospitals. The organization, the alliance of premier hospitals for children, is a non-profit dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America. The CMN Hospitals in our area that benefited from this summer’s paper balloon campaign included: Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and The Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger.

The Center for Professional Development at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) will host the Coaching Leadership Program at its executive business center during the 2017-2018 academic year. This is currently the only university-based coaching certificate program in the Philadelphia area. The Coaching Leadership Program is a scholarly, research-based program designed to strengthen participants’ coaching skills and expand their toolkits. Participants will learn how personal transformation occurs by applying proven theories to their own experiences and reflections. SJU is partnering with GroupWorks Consulting LLC, a management consulting and executive coaching firm with more than 20 years of global experience, to deliver the program, which fulfills the International Coach Federation’s (ICF) certification requirements. It also qualifies for 12 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through the university’s International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) accreditation. The Coaching Leadership Program is designed for current leaders and managers who wish to hone their coaching skills in the workplace, practicing coaches who wish to improve their skills and gain certification and those who are looking to begin to practice executive coaching. “Coaching skills are a critical component of successful leadership. Today’s most forward thinking organizations are training leaders to use coaching as a way of improving performance and promoting teamwork,” says Felice J. Tilin, Ph.D., program director of organization development and leadership at SJU. “The SJU Coaching Leader Program stands out from others as a scholarly, University based program. The curriculum is designed to expose participants to a deep, interactive multi-model approach to coaching. It is taught by dynamic, experienced faculty who are at the forefront of both practice and research.” The sessions will be held September 14-16; and November 3-5 of 2017, and January 12-14, February 9-11 and March 9-11 of 2018. For more information, please visit: http://www.sju.edu/int/academics/hsb/resources/profdevelopment/coachingleader/index.html.

The circle of life came close to home as my family mourns the loss of my father’s youngest brother, Salvatore Maggio, on July 14 at the age of 93 in Albuquerque, NM. His passing marked the end of an era. Now the three “Maggio boys” as they were known, are gone. My Uncle Salvy was the cheese production guru/ master cheesemaker of all Maggio cheese products. It was he who taught all of us as youngsters about milk processing and cheese manufacturing. He was the keeper of the “secret recipe” that made our Italian cheeses the best in the business. Being the youngest, Uncle Salvy was the most fun and enjoyed spending time with down the shore and working in his

garden. In his later years he learned the art of wine making with his grandson, Rafe D’Amico. My Aunt Grace and he were married for 70 years until she passed just this January. He is survived by my cousins Maria Perklin (Dokse), Angela Maggio; and Michael S. Maggio (Joann); six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. A funeral Mass and interment for both my aunt and uncle will be held in September. Rest in peace.

Making her entrance into the world on July 16 was little Miss Lucy Marie Tarzwell, first granddaughter of Mark and Donna Tarzwell, of Mrs. T’s Pierogies. Parents Michael and Julie Tarzwell are thrilled with their beautiful bundle of joy. Congrats to the growing Tarzwell family!

Birthday shout-outs for the mid-summer month of July go to: Jim Perkins, Acme Markets; Joe Fantozzi, Allegiance Retail Services; Jim McCaffrey III, McCaffrey’s Markets; Maurice Christino, Cento Foods; Wayne Couts, Burris Logistics; Tim Summy, retired from Bimbo; Dr. Joe D’Angelo, SJU and birthday hugs to my son, Gino Marfuggi. Buon compleanno a tutti!

 

Quote of the month: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Maria can be reached at mmaggio@best-met.com