The Grand Food Center Celebrates 25th Anniversary in GRAND Fashion
For 25 years, patrons on the North Shore have demonstrated their loyalty to The Grand Food Center by purchasing groceries for their families from its Winnetka and Glencoe locations. Last Saturday, the chain reciprocated in grand fashion, hosting a 25th anniversary event at its Winnetka store with a live band, plenty of free food-- and $2,500 in free groceries for one lucky customer.
The Grand Food Center delivered the goods, taking advantage of picture-perfect weather to host a live, two-hour concert in its parking lot by popular funk/rhythm band Dick Holliday and the Bamboo Gang. The Winnetka fire and police departments offered their vehicles on display, while a grill outside churned an endless supply of free hot dogs and hamburgers.
Along with the festive atmosphere, Grand Food Center shopper Linda Greenberg had 2,499 more reasons to enjoy the event. Her entry was the winning one pulled from a rotating drum stuffed to capacity near the end of the concert, and she'll benefit by stocking her refrigerator, freezer and pantry with groceries.
"I've never won anything in my life, so this was an incredible surprise," the Glencoe resident says, adding that she's been shopping for 20 years at the Glencoe store she still affectionately calls "Dee Jay Foods."
Along with husband, David, Greenberg is looking forward to stocking the family pantry and refrigerator for the pending arrival of son, Mitch, and daughter, Nikki, from the universities of Michigan and Illinois, respectively.
"We have two kids coming home from college this summer–both graduates of New Trier High School–so the timing of the grand prize," she says, "couldn't be better."
And to the store's owners, the 25th anniversary event couldn't have been any better, either.
"This was our way of thanking our loyal customers for keeping us in business for 25 years," explains Grand Food Center co-owner Chris Barber. As one of the three owners, Barber couldn't help but smile as he watched a cadre of kids following around costumed food-themed characters Chester-the-Cheetah and OreoMan.
While his younger patrons preferred to gnaw on free snow cones, and patiently await their turn with a face painter and balloon artist outside, Barber's more seasoned shoppers preferred to remain inside the store, sampling free tastes of homemade appetizers, dips, and other items provided by local vendors. An accordion player roamed through the aisles, providing the perfect accompaniment.
The ability for a local grocer to survive in the era of big-box competition, Barber acknowledges, was definitely worth the cost of the event.
"We know we can't compete with the big-box stores on price, but our patrons do recognize that exceptional customer service is worth more than saving a dollar or two," Barber reflects. "Quite similarly, we recognize that it's the loyalty of our patrons that has allowed us to stay in business. This 25th anniversary event," he adds, "was just our own way of thanking them."