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3 tips from Greek grocery giants

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Three ways to succeed with grocery:

1. Know your market.  Study a region’s demographics and food habits before opening a store. Assess existing and potential competitors.

2. Welcome everyone. It’s nice to have a niche, but nobody can afford to turn away customers. Make sure your store is inviting to all and meets standard grocery needs.

3. Learn from mistakes. Everyone occasionally makes bad decisions. Success depends on quickly realizing those errors and correcting them.

Read on to learn how these Greek grocery giants keep their customers happy…

“When you shop Mourelatos, it’s a feeling…” goes the Quebec supermarket jingle, accompanied by traditional Greek music.

The Mourelatos family is very proud of its Greek heritage and the myriad of fresh and packaged Mediterranean products on sale at its four Supermarché Mourelatos locations; three on the Island of Montreal, and one in Laval, QC.

“We have about 250 SKUs under our Greek Diamond house label, including olive oil, canned peaches, vinegars, halva, coffee, salt, and frozen pies,” says co-owner and CEO Efthymios Mourelatos, who family and friends call Efty.

“Some Greek companies were unable or unwilling to include the French required by law on all product labels in Quebec,” Mourelatos explains. “So we decided to properly do all of this for our customers.”

The idea for a house brand came from looking at the many Italian products featured under a few, well-established names. “Until we did this, there was a separate company for nearly every different product from Greece,” Mourelatos says. “Now we’re able to encourage our customers to try new things because they trust the quality of our Greek Diamond brand.”

The majority of customers aren’t looking for only Greek food, but to fill their weekly grocery carts with good, fresh produce at competitive prices.

“Our motto is: the best price for great quality,” Mourelatos says. “We could sell peaches that are a lot cheaper, for example, but no one would buy them a second time, and we depend on repeat business.”

Effective marketing is another key aspect in attracting a large number of customers on a regular basis. “We’re often working up to six weeks ahead of time with our suppliers to figure out the best food items to promote as weekly specials,” Mourelatos says. “A lot of work goes into our flyer before we’re ready to print 200,000 copies and upload it to our website every week.”

The family has also realized the importance of re-investing in the business. Sales began lagging at the Pierrefonds store a few years back, but that changed as soon as the store was fully renovated two years ago. Now the parking lot is always packed again.

“You have to redo a store every seven years, or 10 at most,” Mourelatos says. “No one wants to shop in a place with old floors, décor, and equipment.”

At Supermarché Mourelatos, there’s definitely “a feeling” that the owners and staff will go out of their way to try to get customers what they want at a fair price.

“We’re very connected to our customers, some of whom are now second- and third-generation shoppers at our stores,” Mourelatos says.