Quick turns, experienced sourcing and emphasis on in-department training ensure Bashas’ commitment to quality and community.
Originally printed in the October 2022 issue of Produce Business.
Birthed during tough economic times in the 1930s, Bashas’ Family of Stores in Chandler, AZ, continues to serve customers through a variety of different store formats — each unique to the communities they serve.
“Bashas’ was founded at the height of the Depression in 1932 by brothers Ike and Eddie Basha Sr., along with the help of their six sisters,” says Gabe Flores, director of produce. “The company’s founding philosophy was quality merchandise at competitive prices, with an emphasis on warm, friendly and accommodating customer service, and that remains our mantra today.”
The full-service grocery chain is as relevant today as it was back then and continues to provide guests fresh, unique and local produce, with an emphasis on quality, customer service and involvement in the immediate neighborhood.
The family-owned grocer operates several banners: Food City, AJ’s Fine Foods, Eddie’s Country Store, and both Bashas’ and Bashas’ Diné supermarkets. “With more than 50 stores in Arizona and New Mexico, we are one of the largest employers in the state and noted as one of the Best Places to Work in Arizona,” says Flores.
Bashas’ has survived and thrived through the decades by working hard and concentrating on the needs of the specific customers it serves. “Sustainable growth year after year comes through hard work, always combing through the supply chain, always reinventing the internal processes that will help us be at our best at all times,” says Flores.
“Also, listening to our customers’ needs is important, as is the willingness to adapt and change. We continue to stay committed to offering the extended variety, superior freshness, healthy items and our made-fresh-in-store hero items at a fair value and with a friendly customer experience.”
COMMITTED TO THE BEST
Bashas’ customers trust the company’s promise to bring them the best produce. “We continue in our commitment to delivering the freshest produce to the communities we serve,” says Flores. “Our commitment to fresh started with our founders Eddie and Ike Basha. We believe fresh produce sets the tone and the overall standard in freshness for the entire store experience.”
Flores explains the company’s handling mantra is ‘Shelf Life Belongs to the Customer’ and the stores work hard to maintain the least amount of travel distance and time.
“We are always working to minimize the ‘idle inventory’ timeframe at any given point of the supply chain,” he says. “This allows us to offer a true farm-to-shelf, high-quality product at peak freshness and exceptional value with consistency.”
The stores offer a variety of produce items in line with each individual community’s need. “Starting with the basic core lineup to unique, hard-to-find specialty items, we proudly offer a full variety produce department with consistency,” says Flores. “With all the fun, unique innovation within any given category, it’s vital that we keep an open mind to new things, embracing the change.”
Bashas’ stays focused on sourcing out the best for its customers. “With continuous review, we meticulously and very diligently work through and rewrite our specification manual item by item,” says Flores. “We focus on sourcing only the written specification standard at best negotiated cost and always holding to nothing less, safeguarding best quality for our customers.”
The company counts on a highly experienced sourcing team, putting priority on local when available, but also spanning the gamut of what’s available globally. “Our four-member produce procurement team carries a wealth of passion, pride, knowledge, and expertise and bolsters 120-plus years of fresh produce total industry experience,” says Flores. “Sourcing, trading and partnering-up with many top labels is key, including legacy brands, premium growers, wholesalers and importers from around the globe.”
LEADING WITH FRESH
Though Bashas’ individual store footprints may vary, produce remains a core focal point for each. “The produce departments are always positioned at the front of the store, giving us the opportunity to lead with fresh,” says Flores.
The Chandler, AZ, store size is approximately 55,000 square feet with the produce department occupying 2,800 square feet or about 5% of the store. The department uses refrigerated cases throughout to maintain freshness and shelf life, complementing that with the use of secondary cluster tables, orchard bins, baskets and more to elevate presentation and eye appeal.
Flores points out that, by design and intent, the actual refrigerated wet rack case will consist of 28 to 36 feet of fresh vegetable presentation in total. “The tightened allocated space promotes the highest of turns for the ultimate freshness and shelf life,” he says. “Our store-level ‘Guardians of Fresh’ replenish and maintain the full variety wet rack with frequency.”
The store changes layout a few times during the year to highlight the seasonality of fresh produce, according to Flores. “This allows us to offer and present a new season of fresh fruits, vegetables, colors, textures and flavors,” he says. “Our Guardians of Fresh change the merchandising look, flow and feel to reflect the best of each season.”
The store’s main principles of merchandising revolve around ‘highest of inventory turns’ and the ‘ultimate freshness,’ describes Flores.
“First, we consider what Mother Nature is offering at the time, then we create a written base plan that best reflects the seasonal offering to our customers,” he says. “We take a foundational approach through color, beautiful eye appeal, dinner building, cross-merchandising and — because some of the best merchandising ideas start at store level — we leave some merchandising decisions to our Guardians of Fresh, giving the opportunity to add their creative, personal touch, pride and ownership.”
The company utilizes a plethora of tools for promotion including weekly circulars, Every Day Low Prices (EDLP), sampling, and social media. Its customer reward program, Bashas’ Personal Thank You account, provides shoppers with personalized deals and savings in-store.
Flores points to in-store promotions as a way to pump up department personnel and its customers. “The Seasonal Points of Pride promotions garner the most customer and store team excitement,” he says. “It could be our annual Georgia Peach in Arizona promotion or the annual Arizona Takes a Bite of the Big Apple New York apple promotion. We also do a New Mexico Hatch chile seasonal promotion, Utah Mountain-Grown Peach promotion, and a summertime Colorado Olathe Corn promotion to name only a few. We take the most pride in the very local Yuma, Arizona, winter vegetable season, giving us the opportunity to offer a logistically fresh, local promotion.”
Emphasis on customer service drives the stores to value and train their produce personnel, or Guardians of Fresh, as Flores notes, who are on the front-line of the shopper experience.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have many proud industry veterans that have been with us for decades,” he says. “With new team members, we want all new team members to have the opportunity to be successful. We offer many training tools such as e-learning videos, written SOP handouts and, most importantly, on-the-job, side-by-side, store-level training for all new members. New member training is the key to our continued success.”
The company remains vested in each of its store communities with programs ranging from wellness assistance to community service. “Kindness, generosity and support for the communities we serve are qualities at the very foundation of Bashas’ Family of Stores,” says Flores. “We proudly support local charities in different ways, including through our Charity of the Month program, community support cards, donations and community event sponsorship.”
22402 S. Basha Road, Chandler, AZ 85248
Operates over 50 stores in Arizona and New Mexico.