Q&A with Meg Major
Welcome to Endcap, Je; and Sandy! Having known you both for many years and
witnessing the remarkable things you’ve
done, I consider you to be a genuine grocery “power couple.” Please share a few
things about what makes your bond so
strong and unmistakably successful.
Browns: We’ve been married for ;; years
and have raised four boys—that creates a lot
of “togetherness,” which we bring with us
into our business. To do that successfully, you
need shared values and good communication,
and we bring those important elements to our
work. We share the same vision for our company and understand what it takes to be successful. We also recognize that we each have
our own strengths and interests, and we divide
responsibilities based on those abilities.
We know Brown’s is renowned for bringing
full-service supermarkets to former food
deserts in your hometown of Philadelphia.
Among the many things your company
has done that’s gained national attention
is hiring former drug dealers and felons
as part of your mission to help disadvantaged people. Jeff, you were quoted as
saying, “Someone needs to lead the way.”
Can you elaborate on what inspired the initiative, and how you have seen it influence
the lives of those touched by the program?
JB: Operating stores in food deserts puts us
in communities with challenges that include
higher rates of poverty, unemployment and
incarceration. The last one can be especially
di;cult to overcome because most businesses
avoid hiring those who have served time in
prison. That can result in multi-generational
poverty, which is di;cult to escape. During a
town hall meeting we hosted several years ago,
future customers challenged me to help them
overcome this obstacle and create job opportunities for people with troubled pasts. We
experimented with a few hires and realized
the promising potential of this strategy. Today,
we have a decade of experience hiring people
who have been able to turn their lives around
and forge successful careers with us. We have
a great interview and vetting process and a lot
of experience in this area. For me, the greatest
reward is seeing a person who has been written o; by society blossom into a department or
store manager. They’re able to start a family,
contribute to their community and become
;nancially successful. As leaders in the food
industry, we are in a unique position to e;ect
positive change that government and nonprofits have been unable to yield on their own.
As part of your role as director of brand-
ing, PR and social media, Sandy, what is
the best part of your job these days?
SB: The best part of my job is taking a supermarket and turning it into a destination location where people enjoy shopping. I love my
role designing stores and creating a unique
atmosphere that makes our customers feel
comfortable and enhances the shopping
experience. We’ve done that by featuring
more fresh prepared foods and incorporating
wine cellars, beer gardens, cafes and even live
music in our stores. I also enjoy using social
media platforms ;each one of our stores has
its own Facebook page; to promote our special o;erings and engage with our ShopRite
and Fresh Grocer customers.
Jeff, what is the trait you most admire
JB: Sandy is open to jumping into any project
and working as hard and as long as it takes to
get it done. She truly cares about our associates
and customers, and takes it personally that our
business continues to improve for everyone.
She often focuses on behind-the-scenes projects, and she’s great at taking our ideas and
turning them into reality in our stores.
Sandy, what is the trait you like least about
SB: Je; has so many wonderful qualities, but
he’s often so busy that he’s not always mindful of his own health and well-being. I would
love for him to exercise more and embrace a
healthier lifestyle. I want to see him healthy so
we can live a long life together!
What was the best part of the underdog
Eagles’ Super Bowl win, and has the thrill
of victory worn o; yet?
JB: The Eagles winning the Super Bowl was so
amazing, and you could feel the excitement
the minute you walked into our ShopRite and
Fresh Grocer stores. It created tremendous
bonding and happiness across the city. And
no, the thrill has not worn o;!
Je; and Sandy Brown own and
operate Brown’s Super Stores,
which includes 11 ShopRite
Supermarkets and two Fresh
Grocers in the Philadelphia area.
How did you meet? On the
boardwalk at the south Jersey Shore.
We were married one year later!
Outside of work, what is your
favorite way to spend time? We love
spending time in Philadelphia with
friends and our kids.
What’s on your bucket list? We
enjoy traveling to learn about di;erent
cultures and their food. I L