Thursday, April 24, 2014
(Continued from page 1)
Rick Micucci, owner of Micucci Grocery on India Street in Portland, remembers times when his father would buy an entire rail car full of canned tomatoes.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
WHO: Owner and president of Micucci Grocery Co.
ADDRESS: 45 India St., Portland
SHOPTALK ALLOWS people to describe in their own words the rewards and challenges of their jobs. In doing so, they reflect the energy, imagination and hard work that characterize the workplace in Maine.
THE QUESTIONS for this week’s Shoptalk were compiled by Staff Writer Deborah Sayer.
DO YOU know someone who would make an interesting candidate for Shoptalk? Send your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do you go about selecting the products that you sell there?
A: We have some of the same suppliers my father had 60 years ago but also a new supply of things. You try to get a feel for what you want your business to be known for and we also like to honor customer requests to make available certain foods.
Q: What do the regulars keep coming back for more of?
A: I think the biggest draw is the deli. The pizza is another favorite with our customers. It's a simple cheese pizza -- no toppings. And, we don't make it to order. The baker starts making it around 10:30 or 11 a.m. and keeps making it until he leaves, which is around 4 p.m. most days. People love it. Quite often there is a line just to get a slice. He sells out every day. My wife is a big part of our success today. She's the one who hires the staff, does the accounting and comes with me to trade shows to search for new products and suppliers.
Q: What are the challenges for the small grocery store?
A: The challenge is getting people to make an extra stop for our products. We try to keep it interesting for our customers -- things the can count on to be here -- things they can experiment with in the kitchen. That's where the food shows come in handy. They provide a good opportunity to view new items and meet the people who make them. We can learn more about the organization and talk about ingredients or how a product is made. Food shows have manufacturers who come from all over the world. The one we just went to had 500 vendors to sample from -- just from Italy.
Q: What are some of the things you consider besides the taste of a potential product?
A: We look at the packaging and what is the best way to source the items. For instance, some vendors will sell their product only by the case and others by the truckload. Then, we have to consider things like how we will get the product from their door to ours in the most cost-effective way and what temperature the goods must be stored at.
Q: What are your memories of your father's work ethic?
A: I remember him as an honest, hardworking man who liked to keep things simple. No frills, just basically offering a good product at a good price for his customers to make a living to provide for his family. I know I don't have to work as hard as he did. I have a really great staff who helps me do that.
Q: What are your hours?
A: From 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.