Port Sentry store takes pride in offering products with flavor of hometown
PROMOTIONS MANAGER Steve Sanfilippo posed with a supply of local items sold at the Port Washington Sentry Foods store. Photo by Mark JaegerWhether it is because of the desire to reduce the amount of gasoline used during frequent shopping trips or the wish to support the economy on a very personal level, the shop local campaign at Sanfilippo’s Sentry Foods in Port Washington has taken on a life of its own.
Thanks to the program, shoppers can stop at the food store at 101 W. Seven Hills Rd. and virtually fill their carts with an abundance of Port products.
The store has carried pizza from the Pasta Shoppe for years, but that option is now augmented by salsa from Beanie’s Mexican restaurant, bacon and summer sausage from Bernie’s Fine Meats, soups from NewPort Shores restaurant, popcorn from Fireworks Popcorn and wine from Vines to Cellar Winery.
Steve Sanfilippo, manager of promotions and marketing at the store, said the shop local philosophy is something he hopes gains increasing acceptance with shoppers.
“This is something I have been trying to get done for a number of years. I was talking about the idea of promoting local businesses with (restaurant owner) John Weinrich over lunch at NewPort Shores and I said, ‘We really need to get your seafood chowder in our store,’” Sanfilippo recalled.
“From there, John said, ‘OK, let’s see if we can take this even further.’”
The list of locally made specialties kept growing, and Sanfilippo said there are more places he wants to contact.
“I’m not done yet,” he said.
“We had a demonstration day with samples of all the local products we carry and the response was great. We plan to have a lot more of those events.”
Joe Sanfilippo, Steve’s father and owner of the store, said the “shop local” program is intended to be a convenience for shoppers while demonstrating solidarity with area businesses.
“The mark-up on these products is not that great. Nobody is getting rich on the sale of these items, but it is a great convenience,” he said. “Say you know you want NewPort Shores seafood chowder for lunch, but they aren’t open on Mondays. Our carrying the product gives people options.
“It brings customers into our store, but more importantly it provides a lot of exposure to these different businesses and gets people thinking about the products they can get in Port.”
Joe Sanfilippo said customers are often delighted to find Port products available on the store shelves.
“When we started carrying Fireworks Popcorn, I was amazed by how much we sold,” he said.
“Ultimately, it would be great to get to the point where if a local restaurant or shop has a specialty that they sell, we also carry the item, promoting their business. We aren’t going to be undercutting them on price.”
Steve Sanfilippo wants the shop local concept to become part of people’s subconscious buying patterns.
He plans to travel to a Sentry store in Madison soon to check a program they use that logs how far various food items travel to get to their shelves and coolers.
“The idea is that a cheese that traveled only a few miles is bound to be fresher than something that was shipped 700 miles,” he said.
That mileage tag would also make shoppers more aware of how much fossil fuel is used to ship products.
“In five years, what I would like to do is be able to give shoppers the choice to buy only Wisconsin products at the store. People can see there is a real advantage to buying products where they know that the money is going to be staying in the local economy,” Sanfilippo said.