One-on-One with Meg Major
Welcome to Endcap, Judy! I’ve been
fortunate to know you for 25 years, and
I’ve always been impressed by your
intelligence, sincerity, enthusiasm and
adeptness as merchant and marketer.
What do you consider to be the trait that
has served you best in your career?
Judy Spires: Taking care of customers better
than anyone else is definitely my passion.
That’s why I’m in this business. Of course, to
do this consistently, we need a really fabulous
team of people, and that’s what we have here
at our company. Our store, field and office
support associates are so committed and
excel at this. They are the best.
During your address at PLMA’s annual
conference in late 2017, you said that
predictions of the demise of brick-and-mortar are greatly exaggerated. Has your
opinion changed? Why or why not?
Despite the predictors of doom and gloom
around the demise of brick-and-mortar, I
stand my ground, as even Amazon continues
to develop physical retail locations.
I think Kings Food Markets’ tagline,
“Where Inspiration Strikes,” is a brilliant
way to convey your stores’ vision and
mission to shoppers. What are your teams
doing to further the inspirational cred?
Our team is really stepping up its ability to
take advantage of the size and nimbleness of
our company. They’ve learned not to merely
respond but to be ahead of the trends and
the customers we target: as an example,
researching ... herbs and spices that are
growing in popularity, and creating recipes
that feature them in our prepared foods
offerings. I love that we are a flat organization
and we can move quickly. We detest red tape,
and we don’t let it get in our way.
You were quoted as saying that when you
entered the grocery business, you became
a fast fan of “the positive reinforcement of
retail.” Can you please elaborate?
I started in this business as a cashier, which
I found was exciting and rewarding to be
able to quantify how much money you’re
bringing in an hour, how many customers
you’re checking out and the accuracy of your
cash balance. As you move into other areas
of responsibility—for example, ordering
and stocking—you know the immediate
movement of the items. For me, it was
always rewarding to see the customer’s
response in real time. We didn’t have
reams and reams of data in the early days
of my career. It was a very hands-on way
of understanding how customers were
responding and how you were performing.
Of course, I love that I have immediate
insights with sophisticated methods of
obtaining much more data while still
providing the positive reinforcement I crave.
When thinking about a former influential
authority figure from your past, what is
the most important thing you learned
from them, and how has it benefited you?
One of my mentors was the store manager
who first hired me and taught me the
passion for the customer’s satisfaction
and how to really enjoy what you do. It
was through him that I found my love for
this business. The other was our former
chairman, who always offered such sage
advice. One of the most important things
I learned from him was, “Whenever you
take on a new leadership role, the first thing
you do is find out everything your new
organization is doing right.”
What’s the most important lesson
you learned from one of your
Very simple: Asking for help is not a sign of
weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Sometimes
we have the mistaken idea that when
we’re promoted into a new role, we’re
there because we’re supposed to know
everything—and we don’t. Life is much easier
when you recognize this and reach out to the
resources around you. I’ve always found that
people are always willing and happy to help
and support you. All you have to do is ask.
What is your most prized
Aside from receiving my fabulous
Trailblazer Award from you, Meg, it’s still
my Martin guitar my parents gave me on
my 16th birthday. I’ve passed it on to my
son, who carries forward the love of the
Judy Spires is CEO of
Parsippany, N.J.-based Kings
Food Markets and Balducci’s
Food Lover’s Market.
Which words or phrases do you
most overuse? “From your mouth
to God’s ears.”
What is your motto at the moment?
We can do this!
In a year from now, what’s the
best thing you could tell me?
My company has doubled its
revenue and profitability. I L