Monday, March 14, 2005

Bristol Farms

I mentioned in my earlier post that I drive 1 -2 hours a couple of times a month to go to my favorite grocer. I am spoiled. I, as you know if you've read previous posts, am a veteran grocer. I worked for the GIANT store on the corner and thought I knew what I needed to know about the grocery business. That is, until I moved to Texas. Then I was spoiled. HEB's Central Market was an amazing store. It understood customers so well. It reached well beyond any regular grocer, not just compete and earn your business, but to make sure you never wanted to shop any where else. Well the methodology was not wasted on me. Saturday mornings were like going to the fair. A sampling fair. They flew in special chefs for product demos, they encouraged local Texas food manufacturers to come and sample their wares, they had a cooking school in the store. It was marvelous. Then we moved back to California.

Ugh. No more Central Market. It was depressing. I went to the GIANT a few times looking for even the slightest reflection of the wonderful offerings in produce, meat or fresh foods. It wasn't until I went on a trek one Saturday later in the year. I stumbled upon Bristol Farms in Mission Viejo and discovered a mini Central Market. The employees were friendly, informed, excited to help the customers. Bristal Farms had the best produce section I'd seen since leaving Texas, they even had Haricot Vert beans! The meat section was second to none. The fish was plentiful and fresh. The grocery aisles were filled with many of the items I had grown accustomed to using in Texas. It was utterly amazing. Bristol was where So Cal'rs could find food that was worthy of eating. I have been going back for almost ten years and have never been disappointed with a purchase.

I just wish they were closer to me. At a produce show we attended, we had the pleasure of meeting a couple of people from corporate Bristol. We chatted and, I admit, I gushed about how wonderful their stores were. Emails were exchanged and just last year I decided I had had enough of the two hour drive. A new shopping center had been built in an area close to me and there were prospects of even larger development coming soon. I began an email campaign to get Bristol to build in my area. I emailed three times and got an email back from the guy whose email I had. I had never really read the fine print K... D.... company president stated the reply email. Eeeek. I didn't want to become known as the crazy lady from far off places and accepted his reply graciously. The company had limited resources. They were planning on expanding, however, due to distribution channels, they needed to be closer to their base. Ugh! I sent him back an email that said if they ever do decide to expand out of their circle of influence please make my area first.

I keep hoping for the day that takes place.