Tedeschi Tackles Nontraditional Foodservice

Healthy products, YMCA site earn retailer leadership award

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

Tedeschi Food Shops & Convenience Stores salad

ROCKLAND, Mass. -- More than 90 years after being founded in Rockland, Mass., Tedeschi Food Shops remains a cutting edge convenience-store retailer, one that is innovating in place and product at the same time.

Tedeschi’s recent accomplishments achieved the chain one of four Leadership in Foodservice Awards, handed out this past week during CSP’s 2014 FARE Conference in Dallas.

The story of Tedeschi Food Shops begins in 1923, when Angelo Tedeschi began driving his truck into Boston to buy meat, cheese and produce to sell out of his home in nearby Rockland. Success brought with it a real store, then a supermarket chain, and eventually the acquisition and evolution of a convenience store chain that now comprises 192 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Tedeschi has grown through acquisition, creating a satellite of stores in varying shapes and sizes in urban and suburban areas. While its core customer is the traditional blue-collar c-store shopper, the company has is ambitiously targeting females and millennials—largely through its foodservice program.

“We study the data all the time to look at what’s selling. The problem is, if you make all your decisions based on that data, you’re only making decisions to serve the customers you’ve always served,” said president and CEO Peter Tedeschi. “We’re trying to branch out a little bit. I don’t want to say be contrarians, but we’re also trying to do more to attract the shoppers we don’t have. So it’s important to understand who they are.”

Tedeschi is already highly regarded for its foodservice program. Twenty-one stores feature full-blown delis that make sandwiches and salads to order. Other stores are serviced by the chain’s own commissary. Grab and go offerings range from a classic club sandwich to adventurous wheatberry and salads and heat-and-eat Indian entrees.

“It’s no longer enough to be a convenient location,” Tedeschi said. “You really have to do the things that make you a destination location.”

In addition to the fresh cases highlighting prepackaged sandwiches, salads, fruits and vegetables, another store highlight is the bounty of better-for-you packaged snacks—all merchandised in special sections.

“They’re not for everybody, but we’re trying to do more to attract more costumers, and even for our core customers who have never eaten healthy before, we’re finding more and more of them are trying to eat healthier and they’re gravitating toward some of that. Whether it’s edamame or what have you, a lot of them will give it a try, realize it’s not as bad as they thought it was, and it’s actually good for them.”

Ask Tedeschi what differentiates his company, and he’ll tell you it’s a focus on customer service and quality products. The chain is also highly involved in the community. Its Pay it Forward Program donates food and money to local food banks, and it hires and helps adults with intellectual disabilities through the international nonprofit Best Buddies. The focus on the community is something that started with Angelo and has been carried down to Peter, the rest of his family and the entire Tedeschi crew.

“Like so many things in life, when you do something for the right reasons, it comes back to you.”

With a renewed emphasis on its foundation of quality foodservice, Tedeschi is looking at opportunities in what he calls ancillary business models.

“In a few months we’re going to be opening up a location at one of the largest YMCAs in the country,” he said. “We were approached by them based on what they saw the healthy for you offerings we have at our stores, and they approached us an asked us if we would open a concept location in one of their stores.”

With a solid growth history, an audacious vision of the future c-store shopper, and strengths in all the right places—namely, foodservice—Tedeschi Food Shops is poised to pave the way for the industry.

“We feel like the model that we have is very indicative of where things are going in the future, and we’re excited about that.”

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers
Abbie Westra, CSP/Winsight By Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP
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