Toski Sands Market Interview

Author: Aaron Reichel

Date: December 16, 2020

In 2003, Keith and Sue had the opportunity to follow a dream.  They found the two most wonderful little stores in Northern Michigan.  One featured top quality meats & produce and the second was a party store & deli right next door.  Having purchased the Toski Sands stores from the original owners, Bradley and Gerry families, they are proud to continue the tradition of service and quality products that had been established in 1967.

Keith and Sue have worked hard to create the shopping experience they both believe in:  Top Quality & Fresh Products – Local whenever possible, a staff that knows your name, is happy to assist and always has a smile.

Today, Sue’s love of cooking and Keith’s 28 years in the wine & beer industry assure you of the finest food products, prepared foods, extensive selections of wines, beers & spirits and a host of other products.

Q&A WITH THE OWNERS OF TOSKI SANDS MARKET

Petoskey, MI

First off, tell us about yourself and how you landed where you are today?
Toski Sands Market has been a landmark for the Petoskey/Harbor Springs area having been established in 1967. Generations of families have considered it “Their Store”. In 2000, we started searching for a specialty food store in Northern Michigan. With Keith’s background in beer and wine and Sue’s passion for food, we determined this to be the perfect business for our entrepreneurial spirit. With a business plan in hand and drive to create Northern Michigan’s destination for the finest food and spirits, we were off and running. We focused on what we personally saw as a niche not being serviced by the larger grocery stores: high quality products, knowledgeable staff, clean environment and the ultimate in customer service.

What are the goals and experiences you are trying to achieve for your store?
There are a lot more “Foodies” out there now than ever before. As their knowledge has increased, we have added more experienced staff in the food and beverage industry. Sharing food experiences is one of the most enlightening parts of our business. We all learn from each other. Customers want to know where their food comes from. We seek out products we can proudly sell to them, taking pride in what we offer.

When it comes to Superior, what made you decide to purchase products from us?
Toski Sands has been a customer of Superior Foods for decades. After purchasing the store, we focused on finding the best quality meat and fish. There was a lot of confusion back then over larger producers branding their products to give the impression it came from a small farm. We found in Superior Foods (a family owned business, as ours is) a partner with the same goals we were striving for. We have built strong relationships between their knowledgeable staff and ours. Their service goes far beyond “making a sale”. Open communication has always been available on all levels. Our relationship grows stronger ever year, continually finding ways to offer our customers the absolute best. The relationship Superior Foods has built with their suppliers and has made it possible for us to offer far more to our customers.

How has COVID 19 changed your store/business model?
The style of shopping has completely shifted. We have always explained our customers as “European Shoppers”, shopping daily for one meal at a time. That has all changed. Now, customers shop for a week or so. They want a high quality product and are far more willing to purchase more in a single visit. They used to buy fresh and consume immediately. Today they are willing to purchase more and freeze for a short period of time.

There is also a new group of “Foodies”. Prior to COVID 19, these customers would prefer dining out to cooking in. COVID 19 has forced them to dive into our world of loving the time to shop, cook, and enjoy a meal at home. With guidance from us and our staff, they have prepared meals they would have never thought possible. They are learning that food is an entire experience not just a meal.

We are also prepackaging our meat and fish. This minimizes the contact we have with the food and allows us to minimize the amount of time our customers are in the store.

Just for fun: What is your favorite thing in the store?
Hands down it has to be the people: customers, staff, and vendors. The smiles, laughter, and shared passion for food makes every day memorable. But if you don’t consider people a “thing”, we would have to say a Double R Ranch Prime Filet with a cold water lobster tail and a bottle of fine wine from our amazing selection.

www.toskisandsmarket.com

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