Clean Up on Aisle Four
As her son reaches out of the cart for anything he can get his hands on, the young woman tries to decide in what section of the store is the best place for her to begin her venture. Located in the heart of Green Hills, the red-schemed H.G. Hills Food Store has been helping families provide each other with food since 1978, as the sign inside the building states. We try to make it easy for people to come in, find what they need, and leave, says Michael Hammett, one of the Co-managers at the Green Hills location. He also adds, The store is a system and we have to keep that well balanced in order to maintain our customer-base. For a grocery store to run smoothly there are several aspects that must be understood. These include, but are not limited to, employees, fresh food, waste management, and sales. H.G. Hills is an extremely efficient and well-organized system that provides thousands of people with fresh food everyday.
Employees provide the manual labor that is required to keep the system going. The employees are placed in a hierarchal structure ranging from bagger , the lowest, to Manager, the highest. Baggers and cashiers help to move the flow of customers out of the store while day stockers help keep the products that dissipate throughout the day plentiful, explains Hammett. Front-end Managers are office workers who generally manage the baggers and cashiers.
One of my main jobs as co-Manager was to keep up with all the financial records for tax purposes. However, every co-Manager and Manager has a different section of the store that they oversee. Some will work mainly in the back at the loading dock, while others keep an eye on employee performance, adds Hammett. Every employee has a specific role which he or she performs in order to keep everything running smoothly (Hammett). Employees form the backbone of H.G. Hills, but there is another critical piece in the structure of the grocery store.
H.G. Hills painstakingly measures the freshness of its food in order to maintain the delicate balance of a grocery store. If we did not keep our food fresh, we would ve gone out of business a long time ago, says Hammett. Fresh meat arrives everyday and is packaged and placed on the racks. If the meat is not sold that day, it will be placed towards the back with the new fresh meat in front. After meat has not sold for five days, it is thrown out. However, Second Harvest Food Bank usually comes to pick up the leftover. Restocking is done every night by a crew that comes in. At night, every aisle is resituated to have all new food in the back of the shelves and all old food up front, explains Hammett. Whenever a customer walks into H.G. Hills in the morning, aisles full of new food greet him or her. Employees restock produce as the day proceeds (Hammett). Fresh food exemplifies the superior organizational skills of H. G. Hills. Yet with keeping food fresh, waste management becomes a main priority.
H.G. Hills waste management system is overseen by the backroom Manager (Hammett). Sometimes the food shipments we receive will have bad food in them. We just send it back, or in the case of meat, we let them know how much of it was DOA, damaged on arrival, says Hammett. Several non-profit organizations take some of the bad food; however, most of the time the food is just thrown out. Hammett says, Produce is checked throughout the day, and the bad stuff is just tossed. Without proper waste management, H.G. Hills would lose its customers as well as its ability to keep food fresh. Through money management and sales, the food that the store loses is reconciled.
Through extremely good money managing, H.G. Hills receives profits while still giving the customer discounted prices. We buy our stuff from Flemming Foods and then we jack up the price just like everyone else does so we can make profit, explains Hammett. Without customers knowing it, sales are generally nothing more than pretty signs (Hammett). We really don t have that many sales. When customers come in and see a bright yellow tag that is selling a can of corn for $1.89, they don t realize that if they lifted up the tag, the regular price would be $1.89 as well. Every grocery store does this to some extent, says Hammett. Quality money management is a vital key in the system of H.G. Hills. It gives the customer liberty to buy what he or she wants while still retaining good profits for the company.
Moving to the checkout line, the young woman feels satisfied with her food purchases for her family. She purchased fresh food at seemingly discounted prices, and she is happy. H.G. Hills has another satisfied customer and is confident that their system is running smoothly. Through extremely good organizational techniques, H.G. Hills provides a wonderful service to the community that will last for years.
Hammett, Jonathan Michael. Personal interview. 16 Feb. 2001.