PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 02/23/2017

    What tech tools do independent grocers need to compete with e-tailers?

    Hi Craig,Chiming in a day late, and I was at this session at NGA. There is a huge amount of store sizes and levels of formats in our group, and I fall into the small single store with limited resources category. It hasn't stopped me from adapting to making my store different, and you must deal in reality not some high-tech fantasy world that the app folks want you to be in. In no way am I knocking the technology out there, but for me and many others it is best to look internally and work on creating the best customer experience for our customers walking into our stores. For the most part we are doing that, with more to come as learning never stops. I do not have the ability to do e-commerce, either direct or third party, as our rural poor area makes it very difficult to walk away with a profit. However, we have had e-mail blasts sent out since the '90s and have a very fresh and active social media presence via Facebook and our customers respond to it quite well. I just won the Progressive Grocer Best Deli/Prepared Foods Category this year, which is an honor, and it can be accomplished in small formats if your commitment to scratch-prepared foods is strong. My advice to independents is to start small and build up your social media presence, and if e-commerce fits the bill and it can be done profitably and efficiently, then by all means do it. If not then ramp up customer service and signature offerings and keep your center store prices sharp. Otherwise most will perish, as low prices are not going to go away anytime soon.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Third-party e-commerce fulfillers: Friend or foe to the grocers?

    Happy for them Ken, and I do not know their layout or population density, but for me and many independents that I speak to, it is logistically inside the store very difficult to pull off, with the old design layout and without a major investment to pursue this. I am a pretty practical business owner, and every store is different, so I wish them well, and hopefully it is profitable for them as well.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Will acquisition of a mom and pop shop pay off big for Kroger?

    Kroger is a very smart organization. They will do what is right and, if they are really smart, let it naturally expand without overkill. Duplicating success is doable, but it cannot be rushed or be on every corner or it will lose its uniqueness, and I believe that any new standalone stores will be placed in the right high-end areas and thrive rather than being just another cheese store in a suburban strip plaza.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Third-party e-commerce fulfillers: Friend or foe to the grocers?

    E-commerce simply will not work for many retailers without third-party help. I'm sure many who post here think otherwise, but the truth is that many stores are simply not set up to handle this enormous task without a huge investment in the infrastructure of home delivery. This is why they go with a third party rather than re-doing their entire store with added coolers, expensive vehicles and extra staff to deliver grocers to their customers. It really is that simple, and Amazon doesn't own grocery stores, which gives them an advantage that simply cannot be overcome with the existing facilities that many stores have.I could never do it, except for catering drop offs and large meat packages (as they remain quite profitable) rather than cookies, canned goods and paper products. The store of the future is not exclusive to Amazon. To really get this right a fairly healthy retailer will have to design the store of the future, which has a brick-and-mortar layout, which is 85 percent fresh products, which has a state-of-the-art delivery system designed from the ground up and which has a BOPIS setup that actually works. It can and will be done, but trying to retrofit old layouts and suddenly become a e-commerce expert simply will not work, so the third-party companies are called in. It is a catch-22 here and someone with deep pockets can and will figure out how to beat Amazon at this game. You can count on it.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2017

    Why do so few shoppers think of BOPIS as a ‘smooth’ process?

    In my humble opinion, it is because of the infrastructure of the stores, and either updates are needed to redo the front of the store, or a brand new state of the art concept store should be built to makes this really work. I simply could not do this in my store, and many others are struggling to make it work, only to find out it is a problem.There are some pretty smart designers who would love the opportunity to do this type of project on different scales for all types of retailers, and I'm sure it may already be happening. For supermarkets, it is the toughest job of all as it requires a whole new front end set up, similar to a mega drive thru, that meets local zoning and safety codes from the fire dept. and that can be worked out.I would put it on the side of a new free standing store, so as not to disrupt the front-end foot traffic. It would be easier to build new coolers, freezers, and holding centers that would facilitate the transaction. Add dedicated checkout and a quick carry out to the vehicle, and they are on their way. This sounds expensive and it is, but for me, this option is one way to guarantee a level of success that currently does not exist today. Sam's Club in Erie Pa. has spent a fortune for their BOPIS, with new coolers, freezers, and holding areas, and they are still not finished quite yet. It is going to take time and a good chunk of money to do this right.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2017

    Will retailers beat back the border adjustable tax?

    You simply can not win any argument about taxes, that would make goods coming from other countries cost more. My question for everyone is, where are we going to find the revenues to fund all of our programs, if we allow stuff sent here go without any restrictions or taxes, and yet we have to pay to get our products into other countries? We need real jobs brought back, and I'm for some sense of fairness or whatever you want to call it. By the way, with the new minimum wage spikes across the country, prices will have to rise, and more automation, which again leads to fewer jobs.We are in a Catch 22 right now, and something has to give. Consumers have a "damn the torpedoes" attitude about wanting rock bottom prices, and yet at the same time people are marching in the streets for $15 hour to flip a burger. You can not have it both ways.Manufacturing needs to be welcomed back, along with trillions of dollars waiting offshore that wants to come back, and things are changing for the better, as they should. I'll pay some more for goods made here, and others I believe will as well, if it means a stronger economy, and a chance to start a business here without 30 miles of red tape and regulations. We'll see what happens.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2017

    How will online shopping transform the grocery business?

    Online grocery shopping will grow for sure, but the problem I see is profitability. I already deal with the fact that the big box stores and the national chains are getting better costs on key staple items, which has caused me to rethink how I run my store. Now with online growing, it could be the final nail in the coffin for stores that are currently struggling -- and there are many, including me.The major cities and suburbs will do very well with online ordering, as paying more for this service is not a big problem. However, how much more are the rest of the folks willing to pay in higher prices to have their food delivered? It simply cannot be free, as the costs to procure the product and get it to someone's home cannot cost the same as a supermarket, unless I'm wrong, which is possible. I can see staple goods being quite competitive, but perishable food must be delivered safely and it takes a very expensive vehicle to do that, and a pound of ground chuck could be $5 per pound, along with deli and prepared foods costing more as well.I agree with some of the comments about scaling down with more space devoted to perishables, as I already have done. Is it enough to stay in business? We will have to see how this all unfolds, but there will be heavy casualties over time and jobs lost in the smaller towns. This is the cost of moving forward. Turning back the clock to the good old days where the local store owner and other small shops were the gathering places for the folks, and they supported the little league teams and local events will be impossible, much to the chagrin of the folks who are left with fewer choices and no one to sponsor their events. That is kind of sad, but consumers ultimately decide with their pocketbooks and e-commerce will win out. Lucky for me I'm looking forward to sticking around as long as I can, with grown kids who can adapt to whatever happens and I wish all the younger generation of store owners well, and hopefully they can change how they are currently doing things to be successful.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Will feel and touch tech transform mobile marketing and commerce?

    If I could have my customers smell pasta or bacon cooking when they come into the store, than yes, lets get this game installed right now. My mind can not grasp some of this stuff, and the human factor still matters, which is why I still have a job, but some of this technology is incredible. Is it something we all need? I don't know, but it is going to be fun to watch.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Should the Monday after the Super Bowl be a national holiday?

    We have enough mandated holidays, and this is a sorry excuse for binge drinking on Sunday. I'll be at work as usual, and if a company wants to do it on their own good for them.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Will free two-day shipping give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    This will surely help Walmart, and if they can make money then it will continue to move forward. Retail today is evolving, and consolidation of e-commerce will start to grow quickly as smaller companies will merge or risk going under, just like brick-and-mortar stores have done. It takes a ton of capital to pull this off, and who better than Walmart? Only the few and very strong will survive in the retail industry as we move forward and you'll see more and more tumbleweeds in many strip plazas and malls with this consolidation process. So buckle up folks -- retail is going for a ride.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2017

    Starbucks battles mobile pick-up congestion

    The problem Starbucks has needs to be addressed quickly, as the folks waiting in line have other options, and for the premium prices they are facing, walking away and grabbing a McDonald's coffee for $1 is a better option. For me it is just coffee and I will grab one for $1 if I need a quick caffeine fix. Either way, it needs to be fixed, as all of us are in a hurry to go nowhere fast.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2017

    Will Whole Foods stay fresh using outside suppliers?

    This move by Whole Foods, in my opinion, is more about saving on labor than anything else, as believe me it takes a lot of labor to prepare homemade foods from scratch. I think it will backfire as the consumers will think twice, knowing that the reason they enjoyed the Whole Foods experience was due to its fresh-prepared image using local suppliers.I spend a good portion of my payroll in my deli/bakery and we make everything from scratch, but it is what I choose to do, and most others buy prepared foods to heat up for their delis.I understand that they are trying to curtail labor and fringes as expenses are rising faster than sales, but the locally-sourced and prepared-on-site mantra they once promoted is now going to go away and it will hurt sales somewhat. The savings could actually add to the bottom line for them, but someone, a smart, strong independent, can take advantage of the situation and promote homemade foods and pick up more business.It is a struggle today to turn a decent bottom line, and when a powerhouse like Whole Foods is moving away from their original marketing plan it gives me pause to think where the business is for 100 percent from-scratch prepared foods, but I'm not changing what I do and hopefully never will.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2017

    How soon before digital technologies reinvent food shopping?

    I love the picture here but this stuff is for very high-end markets that have excellent margins and great bottom lines, which eliminates 80 percent of the supermarkets, at least for now, unless this technology goes way down in price. I speak for the independents who are trying their very best to engage the consumer with quality foods at a very good price, and this would be the last thing they would purchase as the ROI, as mentioned above, would be difficult to justify. NYC, San Francisco, Miami and other major cities where the incomes are very high could have some interest in this and the demand for this concept would be welcomed. But in downtown rural America, not likely.Pushing the envelope in technology is great, but there has to be enough interest in the final product to pay for the R&D, which is why I scratch my head everyday looking at the flavor of the month's newest tech gadget or app that purports to solve all of your problems. There is an old saying my college marketing professor once said to us ... "You can afford anything you want, but not everything you want." This always stuck with me. George Jetson would love this, and I applaud the creators of all this cool stuff, so I wish them all best in their endeavors.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2017

    NRF Show attendees aren’t sure how 2017 will shake out

    For me in our area, things are not very good. Our unemployment in the rust belt is very high, and we have an aging population, so it looks like difficult times as far as the eye can see. If you have a business in a good economic area then your opportunity to grow your business is encouraging. My job is to provide crazy insane value along with our perimeter fresh sections for us to succeed, and I'm fully committed to doing just that.As I and many others have said, it takes an outstanding level of customer service and unique products that keeps customers coming back, and the internet can not duplicate that. Rethinking your product line is important, as the e-commerce channels will focus on fast-moving products that will undercut your margins big-time, and the convenience of home delivery will continue to grow double digits for several more years.Stay sharp, attend your conventions, engage wholeheartedly with your customers, provide solutions for their needs and you will still turn a profit, even it is smaller than before. The online competition will shrink margins for all of us competing against them.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2017

    Is there a retail marketing opportunity in unwanted gifts?

    Hey I'll pay 10 cents on the dollar for this stuff and resell it for 75 percent off, and double my money. Other than that forget it.

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