As the President and CEO of Strack & Van Til, a family owned supermarket chain serving Northwest Indiana, I had the honor of hosting my newest U.S. Senator, Mike Braun, for a Congressional store tour in April. Having recently bought back the chain of grocery stores that my family helped found in 1959, I know that independent, “Main Street grocers” have an important story to tell of job creation and service to the community, and there is no one better to deliver that message than grocers themselves.
Setting up the tour was a simple process. NGA approached me earlier this year to gauge my interest in hosting a tour for Senator Braun. I agreed, and following a quick exchange of emails, an invite was officially submitted by NGA on my behalf. After the tour was scheduled, NGA set a phone call with me to discuss best practices and what issues to touch on to ensure the tour was an effective, enjoyable use of both mine and the Senator’s time.
The tour was an exciting experience for both me and our store associates to introduce Strack & Van Til to a sitting Senator. In addition to discussion of ways Mr. Braun can support independent grocers in D.C., I was able to show off our store, discuss what makes it unique, and explain how Main Street grocers like myself across the country benefit the communities we operate within. He stayed for an hour and the tour finished with him telling me I needed to open a store in his hometown of Jasper, IN!
As an NGA Board member, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with retail and wholesale executives from across the country. Whether it be single store operators or executives from large, multi-state enterprises, every grocer I know is active community stakeholder through local Chambers of Commerce, charities, and other civic groups. While we are all busy running our businesses, it is vital we engage with our elected officials. Whether your elected official is a Democrat or Republican, they need and want to hear first-hand from constituents how they can work for you in our nation’s capital. I would encourage you today to either fill out this store tour form or reach out directly to NGA at firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know you want to host a store tour.