Expertise and guidance become even more valuable in times of crisis. “The combination of information from the supplier to the wholesaler and vice versa is crucial, especially during a crisis,” says Michael Armata of E. Armata. “Business has changed. Retailers can be extremely busy or extremely quiet with no rhyme or reason as to why. As wholesalers, it is our job to work with our shippers to get as creative as possible to do the best job for them as well as give the proper information to our customers.”
The market’s drive also equates to the timeliness and efficiency the merchants bring in getting things done, asserts Cary Rubin of Rubin Brothers. “Buyers who use the market for their supply have better profits, because we can steer them in the right direction on markets,” he says.
Retailers who use the market saw such expertise amplified during the recent crisis. “There’s no setting in the computer for ‘pandemic ordering’,” says Marc Goldman of Morton Williams. “For someone like me, we can jump on it and react as fast with our suppliers,” he says. “After 40 years, all the experience we have with them comes in handy.”
Joel Fierman of Fierman Produce Exchange notes the challenge is in figuring out how much product to bring in during a crisis such as the pandemic. “The retail business was significant but with changing buying patterns,” he says. “Then we had the drop in business from foodservice. We have to rely on our know-how and experience to combat such unknowns. It just goes to show the ingenuity and intuition of the merchants here was able to keep everyone supplied.”