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Some firms become set in their ways and choose not to improve, but not Pete’s Fresh Market. Instead, the family owned grocery chain is evolving into a more corporate-like structure as it has grown and achieved success, Corporate Representative Marissa Dremonas says.

Dremonas’ family started the Chicago-based business in the early 1970s as Pete’s Produce, a small, full-service produce stand on the city’s South Side. Her father, co-founder and owner James Dremonas, grew the small business into a supermarket with quality meats, a deli, bakery and a hot foods department.

Today, Pete’s Fresh Market has nine locations in the Chicago area. As the company has evolved, “We have looked into new ways to formalize and structure current processes,” Marissa Dremonas says.

These include training classes for store and department managers that build on their skills. “These courses empower our team to effectively combat the day-to-day battles, giving them the confidence and know-how to run Pete’s Fresh Market stores,” she says.

Pete’s Fresh Market also has evolved its processes and infrastructure. “On the production end, we have begun implementing an inventory process, along with internal logs, that help accurately report margins and ensure quality control,” Dremonas says.

Her sister, Stephanie Dremonas, who has a background in finance and real estate, has added tools and systems that improved the firm’s financial reporting. “She is also involved with the property management side of the company,” Marissa Dremonas adds.

Pete’s Fresh Market will see more changes with the recent addition of their oldest sister, Vanessa Dremonas, to its staff. A Harvard graduate, Dremonas previously worked at an international consulting firm.

“[She] will be using her experience to improve the corporate infrastructure and operations,” Marissa Dremonas describes. “Vanessa will also be setting up a formalized on-boarding and training program, which will be pertinent to the success of both our existing and upcoming locations.”

Moving to the Suburbs

The South Side of Chicago has long been the home of Pete’s Fresh Market, but the company recently started reaching out to the local suburbs, Marissa Dremonas says. In 2012, it opened its newest location in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

In the next two years, Pete’s Fresh Market plans to open stores in two other suburbs: Willowbrook and Orland Park, Ill. “Suburban locations are much more diverse than our city stores, which are located in more predominately Hispanic neighborhoods,” Dremonas says.

“We have to adapt to the shopping styles of the suburban client, which tend to vary from the city client,” she says. For instance, in Oakbrook Terrace, Pete’s Fresh Market has seen great demand for ready-made foods, as well as a more ethnically diverse selection of products.

Staying Honest

Pete’s Fresh Market may no longer be “a traditional mom-and-pop market,” but the company has not let its ethics falter, Dremonas says. Instead, “We strive to maintain the feel of a family owned and operated business,” she asserts.

“We keep our core values and traditions at the center of our business and that helps us stay rooted,” she continues. “We cannot forget to acknowledge our loyal employees who have become part of our extended family, some of whom began their careers at Pete’s Fresh Market [more than 20] years ago.”

Pete’s Fresh Market maintained its high standards in the recession. “Although we know we can’t always be the cheapest, we will never sacrifice quality,” she asserts.

Connected to Customers

Pete’s Fresh Market has looked at ways to give back to and communicate with its customers, Dremonas says. For instance, as smart phones have become more pervasive, “We have launched a mobile app to help provide our customers with instant access to our in-store deals, specials and other promotions,” she says.

This June, Pete’s Fresh Market will launch a rewards program that “will provide even more savings and perks,” Dremonas says. “Our rewards program members will be granted exclusive access to healthy tips, Delicious Living magazine and many other health-focused periodicals.”

Later this year, “We expect Pete’s Fresh Market e-commerce [site] to be up and running,” she says. “Through a single click of a button, customers will be able to sign up for delivery or pick-up service from their favorite Pete’s location.”

Committed to Growth

Like many retailers, Pete’s Fresh Market is coping with the challenge of giving the customers what they want before they ask for it, Dremonas says. “Although we cannot please every individual customer, knowing our client base and store demographics is very important to us,” she says.

“In order to find the perfect product mix for each store, we have learned to adapt through trial and error,” she says. Pete’s has incorporated new products to meet the growing demand.

As the company strives to continue to meet demand, it expects to grow internally and externally, Dremonas says. “As we build new properties and open new store locations, we are committed to focusing inward and our developing corporate infrastructure,” she says. “We hope that, for years to come, this family owned and operated business will be the leading independent grocer in the Chicagoland area.”

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