The year Tidal Creek Co-op Market opened the doors to its newly expanded and relocated store, general manager Sally Cobb became a mother. “It was like having twins,” she said. Fortunately, she was able to manage those huge professional and personal transitions by putting a lot of effort into preparing for them.
Tidal Creek moved from a small funky storefront house to a 4,000 square foot retail store on a main thoroughfare located in the heart of Wilmington, N.C. in 2003. Wilmington is a coastal town of 175,000 with a university. It doesn’t have a lot of industry, but Wilmington’s economy does well because of tourism.
“Before the move, people thought we were a private club. Now we have more visibility. Because we look like a grocery store we’ve attracted 100 new people a day since day one,” Cobb said. She also knew that the “new” can wear off pretty quickly if product and service isn’t up to par.
“ We have a core of dedicated staff from the old store,” Cobb said. “They are the key to a really strong marketing effort.” They spent a lot time training for the future development of their co-op, which helped minimize turnover, especially in high turnover departments like deli and front end. “Looking back I can see that made a big difference.” Tidal Creek’s staff doubled and the sales tripled nearly overnight.
The preparation Cobb put into expansion planning and internal readiness paid off right away. “We had good sales right off the bat,” she said. In the store’s third quarter post-expansion they made a profit.
“ There are a number of reasons for Tidal Creek’s success,” said consultant Mel Braverman. “Their store is very inviting, and they have an experienced general manager and strong key staff in operations and grocery.”
One of Tidal Creek’s main selling points for consumers is their new deli, which Cobb describes as “very attractive” to the Wilmington community. It’s virtually the only place in town to get a healthy meal. “Our food is awesome,” she said, attributing its huge community following to the talented chefs she has working the kitchen.
During the project, Cobb claims she was able to keep stress levels down because of the competence level of her team. She said she had a great project manager and the contractor the co-op worked with was excellent. “They helped me out a lot,” she said.
Her only regret? The store opened on a Thursday instead of a Tuesday..Add to favorites