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Local, family-owned and operated Harmons Grocery Stores started in 1932 as a fruit stand and has thrived as one of the most innovative grocers in the state. Harmons is celebrating its birthday after having grown to 16 stores in 80 years.
Harmons’ vice president Bob Harmon, grandson of founders Jake and Irene Harmon, explained why the chain has found success. “Ten years ago, big box grocers changed the way the industry bought and sold food, in order to sell it cheaper. They prepared food at a central distribution center, shipped it to stores and called that fresh. Instead of following that trend, we traveled across the country looking for innovative ideas. Our research led us to create a new strategy, which differentiated us from our competitors and led us on a path to providing truly fresh, longer lasting, great-tasting foods to our customers.”
Harmons took a serious look at how to shorten the time it takes to get fresh produce, meat, fish, dairy and baked goods to the store. It began grinding its own beef and creating freshly ground pork and chicken sausages and brats in store. Harmons also works exclusively with local meat processors to receive fresh, all-natural turkey and chicken that is not pumped with solution, so it doesn’t shrink when cooked and provides more protein per pound.
“One of the reasons that Harmons has been able to double in size in the last 10 years is because we re-defined the word ‘fresh’ and our customers appreciated the difference,” added Harmon. “We don’t depend on large food distributors or processed food for our delicatessens. Instead, we were the first in the state to actually hire chefs to work on site to prepare salads, hot and cold entrees, soups and sandwiches from our own fresh ingredients in our stores every day.”
“Because we work closely with our growers and food producers, we have a much shorter window from crop to shop,” said Harmon. “Harmons receives and shelves its produce six days a week, which is not the norm in the industry. We get fresh meat and fish brought in daily and more frequent dairy deliveries as well.
Harmons is providing more than food, the 80-year-old chain is also offering the community a wholesome gathering place and opportunities for jobs. Employing close to 2,800 associates in its stores and corporate office in West Valley City, Harmons estimates that it will invest more than $76 million in its associates through wages, salaries, benefits and training this year. Harmons also adopted a robust sustainability program which includes recycling cardboard and paper and sending all green waste to a local composting organization.