I’ve lived in Connecticut for more than 18 years. Even before my wife and I moved here we visited frequently. On more than one occasion we stopped and shopped at Stew Leonard’s http://www.stewleonards.com – self proclaimed ‘World’s largest dairy store’. With roots back all the way to 1921 Stew Leonard’s is a Connecticut and now New York State institution. In 1969 Stew Leonard’s opened its first retail dairy store with 7 employees. Stew Leonard Sr. (the stores today are run by Stew Leonard Jr.) wanted retail dairy store where children could watch milk being bottled, while mothers did their shopping in a farmer’s market atmosphere.
Stew Leonard’s practices the ideal – ‘the customer is always right’. Each store carries only 2,000 items. All have a prime butcher, fresh baked goods, as well as fresh fish and produce. Most people do not do their regular grocery shopping at Stew’s. But people do go there if they want a high quality and yes – fun experience. The stores are designed such that you push your cart around in a circuitous manner in and around people who are constantly stopping to get free food and drink samples which are offered throughout the store. That’s fun and an experience. It’s just one reason Stew Leonard’s is a destination place.
For kids it is a fun place too. Outside the Norwalk store is a petting zoo – my children loved it and always wanted to stop there when we first moved to the area. Inside there are motorized displays with animals singing and dancing, and ‘interactive’ displays like pushing the button and hearing the cow moo. So kids love going to Stew’s as well.
It takes a while to navigate the store – not a fast in and out, and anyone that goes there regularly will tell you it is a commitment of sorts. It’s not a bargain store necessarily but not overpriced either and even at the end of the ride Stew Leonard’s shows that they get it. They have a large number of cashiers – all pleasant and fast with baggers helping get you out fast. Spend more than $ 100 and you get a coupon for a free ice cream on your way out.
Consistently Stew Leonard’s is ranked among the 100 best companies to work for in America. http://www.stewleonards.com/press/07Fortune.cfm.
Let’s see, a fun place for the whole family to shop for quality food, where employees are happy and valued. Something every company should aspire to be. How does your company measure up?