Nellysford / Lovingston
Nelson County, Virginia
Story By Jennie Tal
If it’s been a while since you’ve stepped inside the Nellysford IGA, now’s the time to run out of milk and head on over. Or, considering the kind-of-a-big-deal football game (Super Bowl XLV, for those of you still guessing) coming on TV this weekend, maybe the time to stock up on chips and salsa. And while you’re there, the price of beer is pretty good, too.
Above left: The Super Bowl Taco Dip Recipe from IGA’a ad in our Feb 2011 issue
For a while now, the local IGA has been reinventing itself. These days the place is looking pretty spiffy – thanks in no small part to new consultant Jim Blackwell.
In fact, you may have seen a recent IGA advertisement featuring a Blackwell Family Super Bowl Favorite.
Jim, who retired recently from a 44-year career with grocery chain Ukrops, came to Nelson for a chance to make a difference.
“I felt like there was an opportunity for me to come up here and to help out,” said Jim, who was skeptical at first. “But after coming up and meeting with Joe Lee and his family, I decided that I wanted to take on this challenge and hopefully I could really help them be successful.”
And so far, so good, says Jim. He said his goal is not for the Nellsyford IGA to be just a convenience store, but to be a true community grocery store.
“And what that really means is we’re adding variety,” he said. “And not just adding [any] products, but adding products that people want.”
In addition to the physical face life, which includes lots of additional products, full shelves, end caps on existing shelves (bought from Ukrops), and a brand new hot foods department, new and returning customers should expect some new, more accurate pricing and a very different feeling to come from the IGA experience.
“We’re trying to make sure we have a great deal of warmth for our customers,” said Jim. “We want this to be a great shopping experience for them.”
And if they don’t carry something? Well, just ask Jim or the store manager and you just might be surprised what shows up on the shelves in a few weeks.
“If we don’t have the item, then we’re going to take a look at getting the product,” he said. “We’re right on top of that. We’re making the phone call back and letting them know that we’re getting that item in and it’ll be on the shelf.”
Now that doesn’t mean they can carry everything that a superstore can. The store got a pretty great makeover, but it’s still pretty small.
“You know, we are a certain size store – not a big store by any means,” said Jim. “But we can certainly look into it and make sure that if we don’t carry it, we have an alternative.
One of Jim’s goals is to help out the people of Nelson by making that weekly trip out of the county unnecessary – at least when it comes to groceries. The IGA has about 125 in-store specials every week that Jim feels makes the tiny – but now very well-stocked – store competitive.
“To drive all the way out to Charlottesville or someplace like that to shop, that doesn’t make sense,” he said, but people need their food and he said the IGA is now the place to get it. “What we want to do is make sure that when people come in here, they feel great and if they have 15 things on their shopping list, we want them to get 15-plus things. We don’t want them to go out of here with 12 or 10 things and have to go somewhere else to get two or three. It is very, very important to us that we keep our shelves in great shape.”
Nellysford’s Blue Ridge Grocery on Facebook by clicking here.