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Business Happenings - September 2002

Boomer's Market Evolves in Response to Community
by Charlotte Mates

Boomer’s Market set out several months ago to “evolve in direct response to the community needs,” a commitment made early this year by storeowner Larry Robuck. And according to Vice President of Marketing Jeanne von Zastrow, that’s exactly what happens day by day.

Jeanne reveals an impressive public relations scorecard that includes local sports sponsorship, school donations, and support for the Moab Music Festival and this year’s KZMU Lip Sync contest. Other programs sponsored by Boomer’s Market include the Youth Garden Project, Utah Foster Families, Utah Safety Week, Channel 6 coverage of Grand County Football and the July Fourth celebration.
“We’re proud to be involved with and making our community a better place for everyone – locals and tourists alike,” Jeanne says.

Boomer’s opened in the former and historic Miller’s Shopping Center on the southerly end of Moab’s Main Street. The former Miller’s Department store lay vacant for many months before rumors began that a new grocery store would open there. Those rumors gained credence when Moab Outdoors announced it would close its doors after two generations in Moab.

The long-anticipated Grand Opening was nothing less than a community festival; the Moab mantra became, “How do you like Boomer’s?”

Personally, I like the “Customer in Training” carts. As inane as that may sound, there is more than one practical reason for this: The obvious one would be the “outing” quality shopping takes on when a three-foot tall 3-year-old can keep up with a parent and help stock the cupboards and fridge at home. But what got me was the fact that both of our carts fit through the isles without consequence.

The heart of a grocery store, however, is the freshness and availability of food products that customers want. Fresh meat is cut and ground daily, the produce section opens wide and colorful and fragrant at the store entrance, European cheeses and specialty meats are available, as well as the Western Family and Cream O Weber brands. Store Manager Les Edwards is developing some private label products featuring the Boomer logo, as well.

While the bakery and homemade donuts were to be the star attraction, Jeanne says the salsa, made fresh daily in the produce department, is phenomenally popular. And the artichoke jalapeno dip sells hundreds of pounds per week.

Jeanne said she tries to make it known that customers can request brands and in some cases hard to find items. Les has ordered cases of such things, including specialty olives from California, Thai and Indian products and organic foods, and is willing to keep them stocked. Market surveys are readily available in the store for such requests, as well as to invite comments about what works, and what doesn’t work at the store.

“We have a 13-member community board that meets every two months and we just go around the room and listen to suggestions,” Jeanne said. “Board members will rotate as time goes on, but we have a wide representation of the community on the board.”

Some suggestions implemented to date include the addition of benches and picnic tables outside, improvements on scanning accuracy and customer viewing of scanners, customer service and a pro-active approach to customer service.

“We don’t ask if a customer wants us to help with their groceries,” she said, “we tell them we’d like to help them.”

Those who do fill out a survey are entered into a monthly drawing; the winner receives a gift certificate of $15. And Jeanne said she responds to each and every survey personally.

“Every customer who enters a survey is called and thanked,” she said, “and the issues raised are discussed more in detail.”

Jeanne said Boomer’s has been successful in hiring “outstanding local talent” to staff the store, most of who worked diligently for many weeks in advance of the opening to set up shop.

Larry Robuck is a native of Nucla, Colorado who has been in the grocery business all of his life. Project developer Mike Lawler was Larry’s partner in the conception and fruition of Boomer’s. They borrowed the name “Boomer’s” in recognition of the Mountain Boomer Lizard, hence the lizard logo at the local store.
“Boomer’s has even had a customized Boomer’s Lizard costume created to use for local sports and other events which we will be sponsoring,” Jeanne said.

Boomer’s Market is located in what is now known as The Kane Creek Shopping Center. It was remodeled to maintain an “old west” character, Jeanne said, and the developers went to great lengths to preserve the red sandstone face of the building, cut in the 1950s by Jimmy Walker in an area by the Sand Flats Road. Jimmy brought the cut stone down one load at a time to Moab in a 1954 Jeep. Ralph Miller, the former owner of the shopping center, said he is pleased with how the entrance looks.

Jeanne said that both Larry and Mike are long-time, frequent visitors to Moab who made a commitment to this community with their project.

“We’re independent-minded and our store will evolve in direct response to the community needs,” Larry said. “We are committed to providing the people in Moab with a customer service-oriented and price competitive shopping experience.”

Boomer's Market is located at 702 South Main Street. They may be reached at 259-1105.

 
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