The Myers Group LLC President Tyler Myers understands how difficult it can be for a small, independent grocer. His father started with the purchase of a single grocery store on Whidbey Island in Washington in 1978, and over time the company has grown to include a half-dozen grocery stores along with hardware stores, gas stations and other assorted retail businesses.
That’s why The Myers Group launched its management services division several years ago, Myers explains – to help independent store owners avoid becoming overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations of their stores and instead focus on interacting with the customers. “If you’re a single-store owner in the grocery world, it’s really difficult these days,” Myers says. “What’s happened is there’s a lot more back-office work.”
The Myers Group has leveraged the experience it has as a relatively small but highly successful player in the grocery and retail sector into its management services offerings, which Myers says have been a huge help to its customers. Along with helping smaller retailers keep their operations in tune, The Myers Group continues to serve its own retail customers and add new stores in the process.
Myers Group built off the success of its original store to accumulate a portfolio that includes six grocery stores, three gas station/convenience stores and three hardware stores, along with a few other small retail businesses. Recently, the company purchased its first store outside of Washington state, a grocery in Alaska.
Myers says the thing that makes its stores so successful is the fact that they don’t have a common layout or product mix. Rather than try to convince a community that they should buy whatever its stores are selling, Myers Group prefers to find out what its customers need and react to that. “We’re not a cookie-cutter company, and I don’t ever see us being that,” Myers says. “None of our stores are exactly the same.”
Before opening a store in a new location, The Myers Group spends a lot of time talking to people within the community, finding out everything it can about who lives there and their needs. For example, when the company opened a grocery store in a beach community that is a popular vacation spot but shrinks considerably in the offseason. For that store, The Myers Group stocks a full complement of tourist needs, such as beach blankets, sunscreen and T-shirts. These are not items that the company would stock in its urban stores.
The experience The Myers Group brings to the table has made it a valuable partner for independent grocery store owners, and its management services include payroll, bookkeeping, accounting, human resources, construction, financing, strategy planning, architecture, project management and graphic arts design and production. In addition, Myers says the company can include its management service customers in the purchases its makes for its own stores, giving everyone greater purchasing power. “In a sense, we’ve created a nice little purchasing group,” Myers says.
The company was inspired to add management services to its repertoire for a number of reasons. Many independent retailers lack a strong succession plan. The Myers Group can help with that, Myers says. The company can help create operational efficiency and reduce costs. Some retailers are looking to slow down, and The Myers Group can give them that opportunity. “You can work when you want, and we’ll take care of the day-to-day operations,” he says.
The company’s management services have been successful enough that other retailers are calling Myers Group about helping them in an advisory capacity to help turn around their struggling retail stores. “That’s a role that we definitely can fill,” Myers says.