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: 12/09/2016

    Does Costco need to follow a different path online?

    There are many contributors on here who think that Costco needs to move into e-commerce much more aggressively, and I understand their thoughts on this. However, I admire Costco's stance on how they want to do business and, speaking as a brick-and-mortar guy myself, not everybody wants or needs to do e-commerce to stay in business.Costco understands the cost of doing BOPIS, and have stated it is something they choose not to do for several reasons. It costs money to do this and it takes away consumers from going in and buying stuff they didn't plan on getting, and they would have to alter the physical facility to make this happen, which again costs a lot of money.The push for e-commerce to be the only way to continue on in retail is overstated somewhat, and I understand why some on our panel feel so strongly about doing both. The retail stores of the future will have to be very creative in building a very high-tech modern store that makes all forms of commerce available to all of their customers, and Amazon is setting the bar high with their concept. So yes I agree that as we move forward, things will evolve into a seamless transaction without traditional checkouts and with as few employees as possible to keep costs down -- and so be it. There will always be a need for the human touch for some customers that want the relationship with a real person, be it the owner or a top notch employee that will happily guide them through the sale. And yes they will always come back, as it is why we have choices where we want to shop.Kudos to Costco for doing it their way without listening to Wall Street talking heads who think otherwise.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2016

    Will the tech behind Amazon Go redefine convenience at retail?

    This is another very cool concept, but I have some questions. Watching the video made it seem so easy, and if you change your mind and do not put the item back exactly where it should be, than you will be charged for it. What about those pesky hackers, who will find a way to get you into the store, and with a push of the button, they walk out with a ton of stuff for free, as they figured out how to bypass the checkout on their phone? Maybe I'm wrong, but I see this happening more frequently with technology, and hopefully Amazon has a very secure system to prevent this.One more thing ... what about pricing of the food? Is it going to be on the Whole Foods level, or more in line with conventional supermarket pricing, as yes, price is still a factor, if you want repeat sales for most folks. If in fact the pricing is higher, it had better be super fresh and delicious, or risk a one and done. I'm sure these stores will all be in high income areas, and they will be well received.All we need is a replicator from Star Trek, and we'll never have to leave the house.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2016

    Are retail associates ready to deal with abusive customers?

    After 50 plus years in the business, angry or disgruntled customers are on the increase, as the demands they make are at times over the top. We do have a policy of not arguing with customers, and if they are still not satisfied, the manager or myself will step in to resolve the problem. Modern technology online has upped the ante on everything from free guaranteed 1 hour delivery to price matching, and a no questions asked money back on any return, no matter how much the product was already eaten or destroyed by the customer.This will make for some tense moments at the courtesy counter or check out, and it needs to be handled quickly, and fairly, with someone who can keep the conversation flowing smoothly. We have had to escort — sometimes a police escort — a few drunk customers over the years, as I will not tolerate anyone trying to engage in lewd activity with my young cashiers. For the most part we have dealt with these issues without anyone coming to blows, so I feel fortunate. I know there are other retailers that have broken up fights, been punched, and beaten, so I'm glad nothing like this has happened in my store. I hope all retailers have a safe holiday, and remember to keep the employees safe.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2016

    Five ways to sell customers a new identity using emotional selling

    This is another issue I take seriously, as the art of selling is rapidly going away with online and BOPIS taking away the opportunity to engage in selling. I was raised by my dad in the proper way to sell, and over the last 55-plus years I came to believe that it is not only a learned skill, but a gift. There are ways to sell something, but for me it is very personal as I want my customers to know that I care about their specific needs and will go the extra mile to make sure they receive more than they bargained for. If this can be accomplished, you will have a customer for life.Be a great listener, be honest, make it personal, as each customer has there own unique needs, and always provide top quality and service before, during and after the sale. There are way too many fast talkers that are not really interested in taking the time to engage one-on-one with the customer, and for me I try to make a difference, as the customer should expect personalized service. As a caterer, it means more to me that the customer loves my food than anything else, including the check I get.Great topic today, and I hope everyone out there looking for that special gift comes across a very friendly, knowledgeable salesperson that makes your day special.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2016

    A small retailer makes a bold move against big chains

    Excellent story, as this applies everywhere in the country. I believe we should stand up for our business in ways that focus on our strengths against the big box stores. I am currently putting together our Christmas holiday list, which I just published on my Facebook page, and all of these items can not be bought in the competitors' stores as the competitors do not produce homemade food. This is one way to get people interested in coming to your store.The problem we face in my business is the enormous amount of stores that sell food, whether it is a dollar store, drug store, limited assortment store or superstore, along with every gas station/convenience store. It is extremely difficult to sell staple goods in the center aisle, and it is imperative that I focus on fresh foods, as it is our strength. Yes we are local, but in a poor economy loyalty is at an all time low and consumers are shopping at four or five stores to get the deals, and not one thing is going to change that fact.The effort we put in is always going to be in perishables and we will play this card as long as we can. To the other independent Retailers out there: sharpen up on your unique products and custom services or risk losing your businesses. As it has been said here many times, "retail ain't for sissies."
  • Posted on: 12/01/2016

    Click and collect and ship-from-store change associate job descriptions

    Although this doesn't apply to my store, as we are not set up to do it right, BOPIS is not for everybody. You must commit to redoing your operations with some major capital expenses, and the consumer is not willing to pay more than the listed price in the store for what they want you to do. Is the front of your store safe enough to put in a special pick up lane without causing problems with the local fire departments, who enforce the safety clearances at your store entrance? This is an issue around here, and even Walmart is slowly getting up to speed, by investing in a safe area, specifically designed for BOPIS, without creating congestion at their entrances.Training the help to pull this off is a huge concern, as it has to be right the first time or you risk losing consumers — they have no patience for screw ups.If I was much younger, I would build a modern store from the ground up that actually is fully engaged with online order pickup, as well as deliveries. Antiquated B & M stores just can not do this without a properly engineered solution that works perfectly and safely. I haven't even gotten to the technology part, which is investment in the right platform to make this work and handling the higher demand pick up times, without frustrating traffic jams.I am just bringing up what is needed to create a positive transaction for the consumer, and if these steps are taken properly, than it will be successful. Profitability is the key and that is something the stores will have to figure out, as some will do very well and others not so much.Bottom line ... Don't jump into this lightly, as it takes smart and energetic people to make it happen.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2016

    Will sales promotions be the death of department stores?

    This discussion continues to circulate, as if anything is going to change for the better. There is an old saying in marketing that asks the question, "What happens when you don't promote?" the answer is nothing. That still holds true today, and yes there are exceptions for some very, very strong stores. Price is much more of a factor today than ever before and strong sales promotions are still very much needed to bring people into brick-and-mortar stores, as the online threat is looming over all of our heads.I have also said here many times that yes, sharp promotions are important, but the ability to upsell while the customer is inside the store is the real key to profitability and many stores are horrible at this. I travel a lot and there are very few outstanding, engaging employees inside malls, restaurants and retail stores like supermarkets. Maybe 10 percent are amazing, the next 15 percent are very good and after that you have people who couldn't sell you a snow cone in 100 degree heat.It takes great training on both selling and customer service to get a customer to part with their money for something that is not half price, and this is not going to change. Online has its own issues, but we at street-level have to go the extra mile to grow our business, and it is very easy to resort to the old heavy discounting -- consumers expect it in stores and online.I am facing extinction if I do not find ways to bring people in to my store, as Walmart and Aldi own our county, so I will continue to bring the heat on deals and make sure my employees get the extra sales through engagement and product knowledge. The discounts will continue for as far as the eye can see and there will be more closures of all types of retail, as online continues to grow at a rapid pace. Wishing it to go away solves nothing; addressing how to make your business a destination point is the key to staying relevant.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2016

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Amazon.com vs. Jet.com

    Amazon is the winner here! It is a likable commercial which plays into our sense of warmth during the holidays. They are on a roll, and I can't see anyone surpassing them in the near future.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2016

    Is Chobani smart to open cafés in grocery stores?

    This concept can work in the urban areas, and high-end neighborhoods, with the foodie crowd. In my town they want it for 99 cents every day, and I have to provide that for them. Follow the money areas, and you will see more of this type of Café concept going on, as price no longer is the deciding factor there as it is in my area.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2016

    Are favorable online reviews critical for retailers?

    We have a 4.7 rating on our Facebook reviews and a response time in the high 80s for responding quickly to comments or questions, which I'm happy with. Does it matter? I hope so, as no retailer would like a one-star average and to me word of mouth still matters the most, as it brings in the customers who want to spend some serious money in my store.I also read restaurant reviews and hotel reviews (more than reviews of the other places I go) but if you are going to be on social media, it is important to be viewed in a good light. You never know when that next potential loyal shopper may be looking at your ratings.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2016

    Online wins the Black Friday weekend again

    The new trend is the old trend, which is convenience and time saved. Having to fight the crowds is why I never ever participated in the mess in the first place. Did you all see what happened to the Nike Outlet Store on Friday? It was torn to shreds by the customers. It looked like the aftermath of an earthquake, and this is what is sad about us as consumers. Who wants to deal with this stuff? Not me, and even my two sons go online for stuff, avoiding the madness that is no fun anymore. The turning back of the good old days is gone and we will see more retailers failing, especially small businesses, as the newer generation will spend the bulk of their income online and not in the local stores.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2016

    Will Alexa-exclusive deals bring holiday cheer to Amazon?

    Thanks Ken, you pretty much wrote my exact thoughts. Amazon continues to own the press and it will keep creating user friendly items with the intent of getting more money out of the pockets of their high-end Prime users without the hassles of price checking.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2016

    Will table service be a difference-maker for McDonald’s?

    For me (and others who like high-quality casual fast food), no it won't get me in the door. The quality of their food is simply not very good and having someone bring it to me doesn't impress me at all. I think for the regulars that go often it is a nice novelty and the stats above may prove me wrong, but we will see how this turns out.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2016

    Retailers go beyond (below) price-matching for the holidays

    I would advise other store owners in my business to ignore the price-matching situation that other supermarkets are doing, as it is a race to the bottom and possibly will lead to the closing of your store.Go ahead call me an old timer, but on one hand we preach differentiation to create business and profits and on the other hand we encourage price matching as a lost opportunity if you don't do it. You can't have it both ways, but I speak for my industry as margins are the thinnest they have ever been. I totally understand what is going on in the retail world today and there are tons of options to buy from. I have lost many potential sales from not price-matching on my catering service and bulk meat sales like turkeys and hams for Christmas because I would end up losing money in doing so.I have to sell customers on the differences of what we prepare vs. the lowest price, and generally I can get the sale by doing a one-on-one with them inside my store.Nobody is going to win a price war on the phone or online in my business and never will, so by creating a scenario where my customers can see the difference in what we cook and bake I can guarantee a high level of success without my bottom line suffering.Yes I can only speak for my own situation, but the only winners in this war are the deep-pocket corporations and NOT the Main Street merchants, who have no chance at lowering their prices and still making a profit. Have a great weekend everyone and Happy Thanksgiving to all.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2016

    Do consumers now expect two-day delivery?

    This topic continues to make headlines, especially with the holiday season upon us, and Amazon will be the winner no doubt. They are the Walmart of online and there is nobody even close to the powerful position they are in. Consumers want everything right now and want it at rock-bottom pricing, and can you blame them?As we speak, I will have to absorb over $1500 in losses just on turkeys this year. It may not sound like much, but for me it is, and all the trimmings we sell for baking and staple goods are marked down to very low margins, and we don't deliver.The economy we are in as retailers is changing very very fast, and Amazon is 10 miles ahead in the marathon of delivering goods to your homes. Can someone catch up? This is the challenge for all online merchants, knowing that unless they offer the free delivery, along with ultra low pricing, they will soon perish as consumers are even less loyal online with smaller merchants than they are in brick-and-mortar stores. There will be a few online winners this season and Amazon is going to control the majority of the press and sales once again this year, and there is no stopping them as far as I can see.

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