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: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    Hi Ian! Well my friend, it seems the obsession with three retailers is never-ending and it seems that what I have been saying for years is now being confirmed by our guests and panelists, and that is that PRICE IS KING.You can merchandise your way to infinity and, with the over saturation of food retailers both brick-and-mortar and online, customers will simply click or seek out the lowest price on just about everything, as it is easy to do. Yes there are exceptions and in-store customer service is crucial but if you don't bring the heat then your stores will remain ghost towns. Walmart, Aldi, Amazon, Costco and the new darling Lidl will be the subjects of ongoing discussions for many online sites. For the independents, we must continue to find ways to fight through the "fog of price wars" or we shall perish.Making a profit will continue to be an issue for us, and it is now reaching critical mass, so for now I hope to stay ahead of the game. My post I'm putting up on Facebook today will be interesting reading for my followers. Have a great day everyone!
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    Amazon is poised to be the largest retailer in the world, and Walmart in second, as this deal turns up the heat for many other retailers. To me this is where Amazon wants to go, without all the fuss of doing this alone, and Whole Foods is perfect for their next conquest, which is the high end consumer. They have the best logistics, and by adding all these stores that are already in high income areas, I look for Amazon to crush the local "foodies" stores and many others like them.Kroger and other fine, high end supermarkets that are trying to get into the game are seeing a giant roadblock, so it just isn't the locals but large chains will feel the pinch as well. The Uber and Lyft drivers will also see their opportunities for extra money for food delivery go down in these areas, as Amazon wins every time, with better equipped vehicles, to do perishables the right way.Retail isn't for sissies, and Amazon will continue to seek more and more retail companies that are undervalued and scoop them up to increase their distribution network wherever they can. Only 7 more years to retire and I hope I can cross the finish line with my sanity still intact.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    How can grocers capitalize on small brand allure?

    We support all of the local wineries that want to wholesale to the stores, and always try to find unique foods that we can sell. Price is still a major factor in our area, and the margins you can make in Cleveland are much greater than my area, but I will try to search out for items that have a decent price point, as $6.99 jars of salsa will not sell here. Local marinara sauces do well, and we have a new organic egg guy, who is asking to sell to us. Basket cheese is another local Ohio item well sell a lot of at Easter time, and the big stores do not carry it, which is great. I've talked to some food manufacturers, who are looking to create private label items for me, but so far the costs are too high, but with some partnering it can come down.Keep looking and you can find some great products that the big stores won't have, and it can boost your basket count, which is always good.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    As a single store owner, I am pretty much aware of the fact that I simply cannot be Amazon, Walmart or any other behemoth that can offer free shipping without it costing what is left of my bottom line. Rural areas like mine are difficult to manage. We are the largest county in Ohio and have fewer than 90,000 in population, plus income per capita at the bottom. If anyone thinks they can crack the code for a delivery service here that can actually turn a profit please feel free to speak up. And this does not include Amazon or Walmart, as I'm speaking for the local retailers who are trying to figure this out as well.Yes I deliver catering for customers who understand the delivery fee, but the profit margin built into catering services makes it a worthwhile trip. Daily delivery in our area is another story. There are no third-party services here, and I wish there were, but I can not figure out how to make this work and turn a profit.I'm always looking for different ways to make a difference in this situation but, again, at this point I have no answers. Either way, I keep pushing hard inside our store to bring in the deals and hopefully it will be enough to stick around for another five to 10 years.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2017

    Will independent grocers turn it around in 2017?

    Al you are correct, but it still comes down to money. If the folks in your marketing area are poor, then it makes the success of any endeavor limited, as it is hard to fork over 4-5 dollars for an out of this world muffin. I know, as I make this stuff, and yes it sells, but it won't fly out of the store like a fancy deli in the Boston suburbs. Doesn't mean you shouldn't create great dishes, because doing nothing guarantees failure. I'm glad I have been doing this for many years, and I have a following for these things, but it still has limits in my marketing area. A thriving economy raises all boats, and opportunities to make money are there for the creative folks for sure.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2017

    Will independent grocers turn it around in 2017?

    This is a discussion topic that I can really relate to, so allow me to gently rant.Independents at one time, as all of us know, were the strength of the local towns all across the country. In my dad's day the bottom lines were healthy. Times have changed bigtime and, with the exception of in high-income areas and in strong ethnic areas of major cities, independents are struggling for survival. For me personally I know my time is limited, as our county sinks into the abyss with no decent jobs, an aging population and a brain drain of our children who graduate from college and move out of the area at a rate of about 98 percent.Being a charter member of NGA, I also have seen big changes in the design of the show floor, which is over 50 percent technology, and an increase in "foodie" booths, selling high-end jellies and produce, which is all good. Many here believe that to survive you need to do what Walmart doesn't do, but in reality that will still make it difficult to survive if you can not try to compete on price to some extent. We have built over a dozen Dollar Generals in our county in the last five years and they also cater to the price shopper -- I know as I share a common wall with them in my plaza. They have taken over half of my dry grocery sales and I have gotten rid of all diapers, formula, Pepsi, Coke, most household and paper products, and have trimmed my SKUs to keep what moves best for me at a discounted price.That, my friends, is the reality in a small rural poor town, and trying to build an e-commerce platform that would deliver groceries would only add to the worsening bottom line, as we are not set up for this venture to do it properly and safely.Some of you reading this may think I have given up, and that is simply not true. I was born for a good fight and my store -- in a healthy economy -- would thrive, with our perishable business and award-winning deli/prepared foods. I am just writing this to hopefully let you see inside of my situation, as a microcosm of what an independent supermarket has to deal with. This is not whining, it is just the simple truth.The cost of goods situation is another story, but it adds to the "perception of value" and, again, it is another hill to climb for us. Bottom line, I don't see a very bright future for many independents in these rural areas and, since I don't own the building, I can walk away from this if I need to with no regrets, as I have skills to seek other opportunities -- BUT I'd like to stay.Have a great and blessed Memorial Day holiday everyone and God bless our troops, who have made this all possible in our wonderful country.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2017

    Can Hershey help grocers transition to a digitally-dominated future?

    It would be nice if Hershey and the other vendors actually would show up in my store, which is a huge problem for independents. Many stores like mine are pretty much running their stores with close to zero CPG reps whereas in the past we did a lot of business with them. These days a lot of these companies focus only on very large chains and of course Walmart and Costco. We had all the major players at one time and they are all gone except for a few brokers and regional wholesalers who come into the store to help us with their offerings.This is the new lean and mean way things are done today. It is up to us to stay informed whether online, (i.e., via RetailWire) or attending conventions and food shows to meet the companies and strike a deal in person.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    Will Hy-Vee’s grocerant strategy set it apart from rivals?

    The prepared foods option for supermarkets are a slippery slope and, speaking as someone who runs a 100 percent from-scratch deli, there are many challenges to do it right. It takes commitment, premium quality and a staff of associates who know how to follow a recipe and do it with food safety in mind. I am not a big billion-dollar chain. Anyone who is out there doing it who thinks that it is a huge profit opportunity better be prepared to maintain very high standards. It can never be about price -- if it is, don't even bother doing it. It should stand out on its own and the profits will come over time as word of mouth is number one for growing the business.We are preparing for Memorial day weekend and it takes time and extra staff to pull it off. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and I'd like to give a shout out to all the members of our military. Thanks for your service.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    Will Amazon dominate the online furniture market?

    From electronics and kitchen gadgets to food and HBA, Amazon has significantly disrupted the marketplace in markets where many brick-and-mortar retailers are shuttering their doors. My concern with furniture is the delivery and setup inside the home and with removal of the old stuff, which is why I like buying local. Who are they going to hire to bring the furniture into the home and make the customer happy? If the furniture is dropped off in the driveway without the white glove service and it is pouring rain, who is responsible for selling a sponge that used to be a couch? U.S. Appliance sells everything. You must pay extra to have them bring it into the home and you must hire your own service person to install it. Amazon wants to own everything that is a consumable good, and if they figure out how to do it right they will be successful.Our downtowns are becoming ghost towns, and if this furniture business grows online it will continue to decimate the local furniture stores that I enjoy dealing with. It is sad, but you can not stop commerce from moving online. Pretty soon Amazon will have mobile beauty parlors that sell perfume and cosmetics coming to a city near you. Who knows!
  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    Will Unilever’s investment in an organic meal kit maker pay off?

    Many here keep saying that food delivery costs will work its way out and, for the life of me, this makes no sense. In what way will costs come down as increased costs of delivery continue to climb? Driver-less robots aren't happening anytime soon and UPS needs to keep its employees happy and simply are not going to lower their fees to please the home meal kit producers.In addition, my cousin bought one from Groupon and said it was just OK and the portions were for third graders, which isn't going to fill someone like me up. He complained about the cost and never bought it again. Outside of high-income areas, people are bargain hunting for food and price is still a huge obstacle for this service. Bottom-line, folks with plenty of money can buy these products without any problems, but for the other 90 percent of the folks it will be a special occasion.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2017

    Will next day delivery make Target an omnichannel force?

    I realize that I'm in the minority here but it seems like home delivery, according to the experts, is the only way to stay relevant. Maybe so, but the physical store model still is needed for many folks in the rural areas, and even in the cities consumers still like to venture out to shop and spend time with their friends scooping up some good deals in their local marketplaces.Target and all the rest of the players are a decade behind Amazon and are desperately trying to get into the same-day delivery service, with little or no profit to show for it. They are not built like Amazon, which is a master of logistics, and even Amazon is struggling to make a profit on their delivery service.Target (along with many others) is trying to grow and is trying anything to gain the attention of the consumer, who has already checked out and moved on to Amazon. Trying to get them back is going to be a tall task and it will cost a lot of promotional dollars to get them to switch, as loyalty is very high for Amazon customers. In my opinion Walmart and Amazon will dominate and the rest are going to struggle big time, but we'll see what happens.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2017

    Will online grocers redefine hotel room service?

    When I'm on a trip, I stop at a nice supermarket in the area before heading to a house or hotel. I can choose what I need for the entire stay and it saves me money, plus I don't want to be held down at the hotel waiting for my stuff. There are time-starved folks who might use this service, but it will be small.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    I live this every day. There is a price war between Walmart and the Aldi across the street, both of which are 4 miles down the road. They have gallons of milk at $1.39, and a dozen eggs for 27 cents. Walmart wants their business back, and will discount the top sellers to next to nothing to gain back what they feel they deserve in the marketplace. Meanwhile Rome (local independents) is burning, and there are no tools to compete against this.The insanity of retail today is especially bad for supermarkets, as margins slip into territories that in my memory have never existed before. I can only speak for our marketing area, which is rural, and very poor, which makes these wars even worse.I will use the best weapon I have, which are the perishable deals I offer that they cannot match, and see what happens. Not a lot of fun anymore, as it has become a battlefield of scorched earth policies by the big guns. I got two of them right down the road.Have a great weekend everyone.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Will Amazon’s on-demand manufacturing create trouble for fast-fashion?

    Amazon pretty much wants to be the first trillion dollar retailer and I believe they will do it, as they have the wind at their back and the loyalty of their customer base which loves to shop online. Clothing has some of the highest margins of all industries. I have been to conventions with my friend in Vegas several times while he was ordering shoes and athletic apparel and other clothing lines. The cost of these products coming into his store was shocking to me. He could run 50 percent off sales all day on this stuff and still double his money, which tells me that Amazon has a huge cushion not only to create this on-demand product, but also to sell it at a very competitive price and still make a handsome profit. Look out everyone, this will probably make several stores very nervous in the near future.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2017

    Is UPS’s Saturday announcement a sign of deliveries to come?

    This is a win-win for UPS in the long run, as they have to do this and Sunday delivery is next. The five-day work week for retailers doing business online will not work, and UPS recognizes that they must jump in or risk losing their huge market share in delivered goods. No looking back or the train will run them over -- and they know it.

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