Tony Orlando

Owner, Tony O's Supermarket and Catering

Born and raised in Ashtabula, Ohio, Tony Orlando has 50 years in the food business, having started at four years of age in 1961.

Tony purchased his store in May of 1999 from his father. Through the years, he has acquired extensive knowledge of meat and deli departments. He has consulted with other independents to help their businesses grow.

Tony has served on many Midwest beef councils and also was on the Young Executives Council for the NGA, of which he is a charter member.

Tony graduated from Ohio State University in 1978 with a Bachelors in Business Administration. He is married to wife Maria and has two sons, Michael (19) and Stephen (16). Tony is also the President of the Autistic Children’s Foundation. He loves golfing, casinos and talking shop at NGA.

  • Posted on: 12/08/2017

    Is a tiered dollar menu the ticket for McDonald’s?

    Anything to help the franchisee make more profit is a good thing, and for me it doesn't matter, as I only go two or three times a year since their food is pretty bad. They will be fine, as many folks need to save money and will continue to support them.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2017

    Dollar General is betting on the continuing decline of the middle class

    Thanks Al for the quote. As an expert in the area of what a Dollar General can do to your business, you must create your own extreme values, and pay attention to what they are up to in order to survive. Over the last 15 years, Dollar General, which shares a common wall (right next door), has destroyed my grocery business, amounting to a 50% drop in center-store volume.You can sit and plan your own funeral, or keep finding deals that will bring in the customers, and I was doing that long before they arrived.I just took on another job, going to work for my 4th company, that deals in closeouts, and I'm excited to get some of that business back, as our customers want ridiculous bargains. I have already established a vintage wine closeout section, which has been a success since day one, offering 40-70% off on premium label wines from all over the world. Now I'm going after grocery closeouts in a much bigger way. Throw in my crazy meat/deli/and dairy deals, I stand a chance of sticking around for a few more years, and still turn a small profit as well.As I have stated before, in my area PRICE is KING, and all the fancy high-end gourmet food doesn't resonate with 90% of the customers in my area. I not only give them more deals, but maintaining my very high service standards, will give the customers what they want, which is price, and service -- the latter which they will never get in a dollar store. May the games begin, and as always the customers will respond to the bargains, as they always do.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2017

    Will click & collect finally compel retailers to remodel stores?

    Well said. The consumer today will push stores to the brink of bankruptcy trying to squeeze additional free services, because they think they are entitled to it. Somewhere in the process a profit must be generated, and for me BOPIS is not the answer. The pressure is intense to give the customers what they want, and damn the profits we are growing market share (said no one with a brain). Oh well, let the big boys slug it out, and for those that still want a friendly shopping experience I'll try to provide that for them.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2017

    Will click & collect finally compel retailers to remodel stores?

    I have been saying this for years. For many stores, the new remodeling is going to cost big bucks. Is it worth it? For me, no, as recouping the investment would take me beyond being dead. For others, especially the big stores that dominate, I would say yes, as they risk losing out to someone else.For supermarkets, the cost to pick and store the product is an expense that many of them are not factoring into the total cost, as Amazon, Walmart and the clubs currently are not charging for this. Something has to give, but pressure to grow market share supercedes profits for right now.Consumers will continue to demand even more free services, and good luck to those who can fulfill all of this and still turn a decent profit.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Indie retailers can survive – even thrive – during the holidays

    Thanks Karen. I'm speaking honestly about the circumstances being in these types of towns, and have been doing this for many years. I know all the proper marketing tactics and am involved heavily in my community. Unless someone actually is on the ground floor of this scenario, it is difficult to explain how it affects independents, especially in my business, as food margins are being shredded to pieces. Either way, it is my fight, and after winning the NGA best deli/prepared foods this year, which I'm proud of, it simply doesn't resonate much here, as it would in a different area. But it's OK, I'm working hard and living well and feel blessed, so Happy Thanksgiving to you.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Indie retailers can survive – even thrive – during the holidays

    Good afternoon. While many of these ideas for survival hold true, it still comes down to the economic circumstances of the community you are in. Our area has lost over 25K jobs in the past 30 years, and what we have left are poor retired folks and a lot of government assisted families who moved here for the benefits.The Walmart Super Center and Aldi absolutely dominate our county and have managed to shutter six independent stores in the last 15 years. Price is king in our town, and unless you are able to provide amazing giveaways, your chances of growing are zero. Yes, I have the unique products, gourmet meats/deli/bakery, and very low staple prices plus high service levels and all the things mentioned above, but we are still heading in the wrong direction, and this scenario is playing out in communities all over the country that have similar economies.I'll survive somehow and will always keep bringing my best, but we are not Columbus or any other type of city with a vibrant economy, and that my friends is the reality, which for the most part never gets brought up or discussed, and I totally understand why.Either way, we are well prepared for Thanksgiving with all our homemade goodies, and I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Retailers are missing out on food photo ops

    Social media has helped us quite a bit as we post videos on YouTube, and our Facebook page, which contain some pretty good products to showcase our Deli/ Bakery, and our special cuts of meat. We also just posted a huge discount wine section on our website with each bottle listed, at savings of at least 40% and more. Videos of our catering prep, and on-site wedding or special events are listed as well. It is not difficult to do, but yes it takes time, and it separates us from the chain stores for sure. We certainly can do better, and I'm working on more videos for the holidays.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2017

    Amazon scales back Fresh deliveries

    Thanks Kai for the reality check. I deliver catering (with a fee) and if I were to do more, it would be a platform base that offers gourmet and fresh all at regular price, plus a small fee. You can't deliver $2.99 Oreos and 99 cent gallons of milk, so controlling the selection offering is critical if anyone is ever going to make money at it.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2017

    Amazon scales back Fresh deliveries

    This is not surprising to me, as perishable deliveries are quite expensive. Amazon does not have the "Joe the Butcher" loyalty many customers have with their favorite store that does custom fresh meats and deli. It is one of the reasons I am still in this business. We have a following of people who count on us to give them fresh custom meats and deli, whereas Amazon delivers something from a third party supplier that has a much higher cost, without the custom cut the customer may desire.That is where an independent can continue to grow their business, as dry grocery is sliding backwards every year. Push the perishables, and if you do it right, the customers will stay loyal to your brand, and thank goodness for that.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2017

    Why is it so hard to get retail associates to upsell?

    Upselling must be taught by the owner or the top dog, because if they can not do it the right way, how do you expect your staff to learn how? I spend a great deal of time working with my deli staff on how to upsell, and spend most of my time showing them how to do it the right way. When they see results, it makes them feel more comfortable doing it as well. We do not say "May I help you?" as it puts customers on the defense, and they feel pressured, which isn't good. We engage in a micro conversation, that includes a pleasant greeting, and a sample of our latest creation, which leads to an extra sale over 50% of the time. The better associates can get to 70-80%, as some employees have that gift, and know how to close the deal.Make it a fun event, and provide lunch for the whole team that day, if they collectively hit a sales goal. It doesn't really have to be very complicated and after a while, my customers look forward to engaging with the help before we actually greet them, and that is the trust and comfort that we seek, because the sales continue to go up and repeat customers are what all of us are seeking.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2017

    Amazon to begin making in-home deliveries in 37 cities

    I'm late to the game on this, but in no way would I let some company into my home because Amazon says it's fine, we got this. Also as a small business, this gives Amazon more power to push companies they represent (Merry Maids and pet walkers, etc.) and it takes trusted jobs away from people who live in the area. For me personally, I would never let someone who I do not know into my house if I'm not home, and many others won't either. My cleaning lady has a code to get in, and has for 12 years, and not one hair has been touched or moved. So no thanks.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2017

    Retailers need to do a better job delivering groceries

    As you know, I have been talking about this for a few years. I realize that 99 percent of the contributors believe online-everything is the way to go, and that is fine. For me, there is no substitute for a well-run store that does custom cut meats and a great deli/prepared foods department. Amazon can never deliver what the great independents can prepare, and there's no way can it get close to the prices we can offer. However Amazon is one of the very few that can deliver it at the right temperature, and it is why Amazon purchased Whole Foods, which gives them instant credibility in perishables although their prices are still very high.Two Guys And A Pickup Truck don't do it, and maybe Amazon could partner up with some top notch independents that can provide their rural customers with the meats and other perishables for a fee. That would be a win-win for both businesses and the customers that demand it at a fare price.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2017

    How should independents prepare for Black Friday?

    For me it is a horrible day, as customers are eating leftovers and we close early with a limited staff. Thanksgiving week profit-wise is traditionally not good, as we give the turkey and most of the trimmings away at cost or below. Christmas week for us is profitable, but not Thanksgiving -- with one exception: our deli/bakery. We clean up the place and get ready for December.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2017

    Will same-day pay help hourly workers and their employers?

    I lived paycheck to paycheck as all of us have for the start of my career, and somehow had the common sense to put away my paycheck for a rainy day. Something is missing in the fee structure, and I could be wrong, but more details would be needed to see how this really works, as more charges are probably added somewhere for this upstart to survive.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Have retailers killed off Black Friday?

    For myself, I never have gone on a Black Friday shopping spree and never will. With online deals at Macy's and Kohl's, etc. there is no longer, for me anyway, a reason to fight crowds. Also the Saturday after Thanksgiving is a religious holiday for me, which is Ohio State vs. Michigan, and that my friends is what I gear up for.

Contact Tony

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.