Update: Donald Greene Back with Fresh & Green’s in Cambridge

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Donald Greene, the beloved and well respected assistant manager at Fresh & Green’s in Chestertown — going back to the Super Fresh days — has been rehired as the top manager at Fresh & Green’s in Cambridge.

Many residents made strong protests to Fresh & Green’s for letting Donald go, and the parent company has responded by elevating Donald to run the store in Cambridge in the top management position.

Below is the response from Fresh & Green’s parent company, The Natural Markets Food Group,  that went out to local residents who strongly protested Donald’s termination.

I wanted to take a moment to send each of you an e-mail regarding one of our former and current associates Donald Greene from our Chestertown, Md. Fresh & Green Store.

Many of you wrote our company regarding our layoff of Donald in mid-March. Your concerns were mainly testament to Donald as an example of exceptional customer service.  At the Natural Markets Food Group, we are very concerned about all of our associates and we never take lightly decisions like those that we made in March.

Donald recently re-joined our company as a store manager and although we wanted to place him in Chestertown, he has accepted current assignment in our Cambridge store.

I just wanted to take a moment to follow-up with all of you.  We are very happy to welcome Donald in his new role as a store manager.

Sincerely,
Shige Hatanaka
VP of Operations
The Natural Markets Food Group

Previous Story

Lately, rumors are abound that Fresh and Greens is closing up shop in Chestertown due to sluggish sales that caused the store’s corporate owner, Natural Market Restaurant Corp of Ontario, to terminate employees with a close connection to the community.

“There have been some tough times,” said an employee who chose anonymity. “But we are not going anywhere, we are going to be here for a long time.”

Local shoppers have voiced concern about the termination of one of the store’s managers, Donald Greene, Jr., who has been a friendly bedrock fixture at the store for many years since it was a Super Fresh.

The Spy will keep a close watch for any new developments.

Donald Greene, Jr., Jane Mcloughlin of Mrs. Green’s, Ann Marie Cole, Joe Scalise in July of 2011 when Fresh and Greens took over the Super Fresh location at Washington Square in Chestertown. Photo by Daniel Menefee

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. J.M. Lavin says:

    Donald is one of the reasons I go to Fresh and Green. He is always friendly, helpful and pleasant. Letting him go is a big mistake. I for one will miss him and have less reason not to go to Acme.

  2. Bennett Price says:

    They fired Donald?! Why on earth would they do that? He was the the nicest most helpful store manager ever!

  3. Linda Parry says:

    Yes, Donald is gone – as is Faye, and all the Chestertown favourites who made it a pleasure to shop at Super Fresh. And not ONE of the promises made by Fresh & Green has been fulfilled! Not one. It’s a shame corporate doesn’t care enough to come down here from Canada to see the damage they’ve caused.

  4. Connie Godwin says:

    They fired the wrong person when the fired Donald.
    Going as far back as SuperFresh days, he’s been the one manager, or assistant manager, who was always helpful, pleasant, available, and knowledgeable. He was, indeed, one of the main reasons customers decided to give F&G a try, and remain loyal to the site. There were some pretty pathetic early months of F&G’s ownership, but Donald did what he could do to keep us loyal, explaining how progress was being made. He made believers of us. We stayed on as customers and now, with the new wholesalers, IGA, and some interesting new merchandise, things were beginning to look interesting.
    But now, knowing that the corporate decision-makers seem not to understand the importance – (particularly in a small town) – of the kind of service that only a manager like Donald provides, it’s not going to be a surprise, – (despite what happens to Acme, ) – that it may be easier to give up F&G loyalty and check out what the staff is like at Acme. Meanwhile, my personal thanks go to Donald for making our shopping easier and pleasant all these years. He did a great job. We’ve lost a real gem.
    Connie Godwin

  5. Melinda Bookwalter says:

    If this is true, then the parent company is very out of touch with the local community and one of its best resources. Donald was a mainstay at the store, professional, knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. I hope this wrong can be righted.

  6. joe diamond says:

    Corporations buy and sell each other all the time. They do it for all kinds of reasons and it is perfectly legal. What really sucks and is also perfectly legal is to get rid of all the duplicated personnel. The speech goes something like….”We are all one family here and when corporate management bought this unit we were really looking forward to acquiring the superior staff that has made this unit a world beater…” Within a year all the high time, original employees are gone. They are replaced by low experience, cheaper to pay recent hires. The numbers look good again. The new guys are doing more with less. It is good business.

    Doesn’t make it right!

    Joe

  7. Miki Smith says:

    If this is true, and Donald is gone–well, then so am I. In the 15 years we have lived here, Super Fresh, and then Fresh and Green was the supermarket of choice for me. The staff were super friendly and always helpful. But, when loyal employees, who brightened up the shopping experience are found to be of no further use, I guess then they don’t the business from this family.

  8. Liz Clark says:

    I agree.
    This is a mistake. Donald was such a natural at keeping people happy. He should have been treated as the golden asset he truly was.
    I hope some other store snaps him up.

  9. Fletcher R. Hall says:

    This is a somewhat hard comment to write. But, then Jack Welch, former Chairman & CEO of GE, in his rules for success, admonished “be candid with everyone”.
    As in the case with PNC Bank, private enterprise is private enterprise, in bussiness to make a profit.
    Neither Fresh and Greens nor PNC have left Chestertown. However, there is no ‘civic duty” for them to stay. The town is fortunate to still have a competative choice. Let’s be thankful they are still here.

    As difficult as it may seem, corporate headquaters for most multi-location companies today are not usually located in a small town. Chestertown is indeed lucky to have Dixon Valve.

    It is true that employees are an important part of any retail operation. Perhaps, more so for such a “personal” retail store as a food market. However, corporate retains the policy and actions regarding employees. Generally, a regional office which oversees these policies and actions. Does Fresh and Greens have a regional office where any concerns about store personnel can be voiced?

    Let us wish any and all empoyees at Fresh and Greens well. Local employment, especially in the current economy, is most important in any community.

    Corporate decisions are corporate decisions and remain the province of indivudual companies.

    It is the responsibility of the political and business leaders of a community to encourage existing businesses to remain, retain employees and thrive.

    It is time to swallow hard and get to work, not just to get mad.

    • Ted Newcomen says:

      PNC Bank is the recipient of corporate welfare paid for by the likes of you & me – the US taxpayer! If it wasnt for the $7.5 billion in TARP bailout funds there would be NO PNC bank in Chestertown or the rest of the USA for that matter. In a truely capitalist economy zombie firms like PNC would go to the wall. On top of all that the company has been fined or had to pay in settlements hundreds of millions of dollars for corporate malfeasance such as miselling of mortgages, insurance scams, & credit card ripoffs. We have socialism for the 1% plutocracy paid for by the 99%.

  10. joe diamond says:

    Josh,
    Here is one you might like. Within Kent County there are many small operators who trade as butchers, seafood vendors, produce and chicken growers. There are several talented bakers and some superior restaurants. Canned goods companies will sell to anyone with a loading dock. Empty storefront footage abounds. There are plenty of community banks. I have little doubt there is some resident business management talent that could be urged to come out of retirement to construct a local cooperative food store. We could call it LOCAL FOOD STORE OF THE EASTERN SHORE.

    We know where we can find a competent manager. We may soon be in a situation where one or both local grocery chains leave the area.

    Thoughts?

    Joe

    • Gerry Maynes says:

      Hi, Boy oH Boy are you wrong! Can Good Companies do not sell to anyone with a dock. If they did they would be a bracket 4 customer and would pay the highest costs for product. That is why wholesalers were invented. Most of them want the equivelent of 5 truck loads of product in advance as a deposit ( that is five full 40 pallet trucks) and will hold that money for years. You then have to pay for delivery for every load to your store Equiptment fixtures supplies etc all most be purchased with similar demands. A good name for such and adventure on the Eastern Shore would be R.I.P. Markets., as in Rest In Peace. Because that project would be dead in a short time.
      Why did they let Donald go? I am just guessing that they let all of their Co Managers go with the stores they purchased. These folks ake about 75 to 80 thousand a year and you cvan pay for a lot of 8.50 cent and hour help with that money. You make the Grocery Manager pick oup the slack and hope to get b y. Its is stupid and is often tried by companies going down for the third time

      • joe diamond says:

        Gerry,
        What I had in mind where companies that offered backhauls in partial loads. Drivers would take loads with several stops at different small stores within the Baltimore Washington area. I better watch it. Most of my experiences are at least twenty years old and not around here. I can see the terms you describe as a deal breaker. It also explains the motivation for chains to trim costs

        If the Ctown stores go there will be many trips to Centreville & Millington, maybe even Rock Hall. Could be good for small, local operators anyhow.

        Joe

        • joe diamond says:

          Gerry,
          Reading around a little you seem to have some deep background in the grocery industry…unlike me. The place I was thinking of in Baltimore was B Green Incorporated. They are still there…many wholesale and retail outlets. When I was in their office (unsuccessfully trying to get them to switch copier suppliers) a manager joked that if I had a road unit I could have a load of canned goods….. his suppliers were sending him trailers in anticipation of future sales…and his lot was filling up.

          Is there enough margin in this kind of operation to stock a local grocery? The big chain brands do operate on volume…..but they have costs also. Just a thought.

          Thanks,

          Joe

    • Stephan Sonn says:

      Good thoughts.

  11. Judging from the number comments it would appear that Fresh and Greens is not living up to it’s initial promises. I most heartily agree that Donald was a golden asset for the store, and I like so many others will be affectected the loss of donald . There are still many wonderful Employees at Fresh and Greens but like so many other folks I will certainly be less likely to shop at Fresh and Greens.

  12. Francoise Sullivan says:

    I absolutely agree with previous posters – Donald was definitely someone we looked forward to seeing when we went shopping at Fresh and Greens. He was not only professional and knowledgeable but also genuinely warm and friendly – a combination of qualities that is often difficult to find. I would be very interested in voicing my opinion and disappointment with this decision to the powers that be at Fresh and Greens. Their website lists some contact info that I can pass along –
    Fresh and Green Customer Service – customerservice@fresh-green.com
    I was unable to locate their Corporate HQ contact info. If someone else has this info, please post.
    Donald – I hope that you will read these comments and be proud of the work that you did and the relationships you built. Any employer you choose to work for in the future will be very fortunate to have you. Best of luck to you!

  13. Leonard Hoyt says:

    Typical of large corperations. Fresh and Green is doing the same to Donald as Dollar General did to Shirley Ford after 20+ years of service. The old employees cost too much to keep on so they fire them and hire in-experienced help to replace them. Look at the condition of Dollar General store since Shirley has been gone.

    • Gerry Maynes says:

      Hi Joe, The nature of the business is not to have a loaded backroom and to have filled shelves without to many holes on them. Simply put you need to turn the Grocery Department many times to make money. The perisable department by their short shelf life and high profit margins, give you a quick return and a profit. Labnor, advertising costs and simply having a talent pool to run departments make this a big task. That is why you do not see many Thriftways or Shop @ Bags or Super Valu or IGA!s around our area any more. It is also why and awful lot of Independents have become Sav A Lot franchise holders. Low costs on Labor no Delis, most have Pre Pack Meats( a Lot now have on premis meat cutters)) Limited assortment 80 percent Private label,20 percent Branded. Reedners could make it if F@G folded Meat is soso and they do mtry to prmote local farm products and pay a living wage

      • Joe Diamond says:

        Gerry,
        My view of the grocery store business….from the outside looking in…..was formed by seeing how the stores grew since I was a child growing up around Washington, D.C. before they built the Beltway. My earliest recollection was living out in the under-construction suburbia and District Grocery BUSSES brought groceries to outlying areas without mass transit and the only family car gone with the breadwinner to the city. Stores expanded in both numbers and size. At some point the busy stores served a local population that exceeds that of Chestertown today. It was at this point that the departments started to be found inside the grocery stores. Meat and produce sections were first,,,,,,than a bakery and fresh fish. The variety of brands mushroomed! In-store pharmacy, film processing, deli cooking, salad bar, frozen everythiung, custom bakery products…..all of this is such a jump from what I saw as a kid.

        So my thought with all this is to dial back what a grocery store might be until it fits the needs of the local population. I find my use of local grocery stores in more like a convenience store. We start pushing a cart around as we run out of stuff from Trader Joe’s and Sam’s Club. We use local shops & friends in the business for crabs, oysters & fish. There are three pretty good butchers around and we use them. Trader Joe’s is adult junk food. Canned goods are for winter to augment stuff we grew or purchased locally from stands in season and froze.

        Again, as an outsider looking in…I see a need to reassess the needs of the community and make a store to fit. Acme and Fresh & Green have just presented the generic grocery store and seem to be on the way to putting themselves out of business. As you correctly state a grocery store has to turn the inventory to make it. The mom and pop places that pay employees to dust the cans are missing it. It will be interesting to see what come along.

        And we know where a pretty good people-person store manager might be found….Hey Donald.

        Joe

  14. Keith Thompson says:

    The most obvious solution, especially if you want to support locally owned business, is for Chestertown residents to drive to Rock Hall and shop at Bayside Foods.

  15. Petey Bestmom says:

    Josh, please don’t encourage a boycott. I understand your frustration and agree 100% with everyone else who is lamenting the loss of Donald G. The head office (up in Canada somewhere) obviously knows nothing about small towns and how customers can be drawn in by superior managers like Donald. But I believe Donald and Faye would be the first to say please do not cause sales to slump even futher by encouraging a boycott! All that will accompish is making closing of the store even more of a possibility. Plus, then it will be not just the two managers gone but another 45-50 people who make up the regular workforce.
    You must not shop at Acme much. If F&G goes under and Acme is left with a monopoly they will get even worse than they are now. One of the few reasons I still shop for some things there is because I get so much FREE stuff due to the wrong prices being scanned. And I damn well insist they live up to their bargain when that happens. Then, recently, one of the managers actually followed me to the check-out line after I had requested a raincheck at the service desk. Why? He was pretending to be helping out by bagging when he really just muttered snotty comments about giving out rainchecks to people who weren’t entitled to them! I couldn’t believe my ears that he would be so unprofessional in front of customers. This would never have happened from a F&G management team member I think.
    Please, let’s do our part to try and keep Fresh & Green going, no matter how ill-advised and stupid the Canadian owners are.

  16. I used to be in the grocery business. (Rep for food co,) Donald is the best ! I hope he uses this post and its comments as referrals.
    I see no way Green’s can survive on its current volume. They see it, too, or they would have remodeled the store by now. Now they will miss yet another summer season without the promised remodel.
    Acme has postponed their expansion because of their sale to a real estate company. It seems to me that Acme stores located in rented space (like C’town) are not long for this world. The first store to close should become a Redner’s. Has anybody called them?
    I do not think there is enough year-round population base here to support a co-op, unless they are the only game in town.
    Is Jeff Carroll interested?

    • Gerry Maynes says:

      Gee Jim, Since 99% of all Acme Stores are rented including the top ten in volume and profitability. I guess they are all for sale. You sir, should take a refresher course in Supermarkets 101. Acme has 48 per cent share of the market. Their sister companies have 330 stores and a two percent share of the market. Duh! who is in danger of a reality sale? The successful chain that has 115 stores and a 48 share, that its former parent raped for five years to pay their corporate bills.. The plan is to sell of as much as New E#ngland off and put the money into Acme.

      As far as Redners goes they well have a nice slightly used Super Fresh building to renovate after Acme’s Grand reopening.

  17. Clara Taren says:

    We just returned from weeks in Florida and were shocked to read that Donald will no longer be at Fresh and Green. He was the first person we met when we moved here from New York. He always greeted us with his wonderful smile and made us feel thathe cared. I guess we will be shopping somewhere else. What a shame!

  18. bill melater says:

    Noboby seemed to notice that several other full time positions were eliminated, the lady that ran the bakery is now a part time checker, the girl that checks the pricing is now part time so all those prices that were screwed up when we check out will probably get worse. I guess they will try to put more and more on the employees that remain and us customers will suffer from poor service because of that. The employees have always treated me good there but i have yet to have the current manager even nod his head as I walked by. Theres other stores that management seems to appreciate the customers. Yes Mr.Green you will missed this sure was not how you treated us.

    • joe diamond says:

      Well, I noticed one like that.

      Young man I know was not informed his schedule was changed. When he arrived at his usual time he was fired. Gotta wonder what was communicated to the unemployment folks for a reason for being dismissed?

      This kind of stuff will continue in my opinion. All will be legal…..MD is an “at will” state…and employers can just discontinue employment. If employees leave they lack sufficient motivation, are not loyal to the company and are just job hopping.

      Sad,

      Joe

  19. Carol Adams says:

    The store promised management would remain the same, current employees would stay, the store would would get a makeover, etc. ALL lies. Donald and Fay were truly loved by Kent County. In fact it was only because of them I continued patronizing the store after noticing the familiar faces of cashiers I’d seen for years disappear one by one. Current management needs to let corporate management know this is a small close knit community and the last straw was letting Donald go.

    Donald, your quick smile and helpfull attitude will not be forgotten. You are a treasure. I’m so sorry this has happened and hope you land on your feet at a place that deserves you.

    F&G you’ve lost another customer. I know you could care less but as the number of customers continues to decrease you have no one to blame but yourselves.

  20. The Fresh & Greens flyers were missing in my Kent County News this week. Could this be a sign of things to come???

    • Petey Bestmom says:

      Thomas, the answer is no. The flyer was not missing because the ad that came out the week before was good for two (2) weeks. Go back and check and you will see the prices were advertised for March 15 thru March 28. Also, I hope you did not throw the ad out because there is a coupon (somewhat buried) in there that is good beginning March 29 for “$5 Off a $35 Purchase”.
      Also, they are still doubling $1 coupons so I think that may be permanent. Hope so, Yippeeee !

  21. Bob Ampula says:

    I was in retail for 35 years – Giant Food, Shopper’s Food Warehouse, Balducci’s, Trak Auto, Crown Books, and Total Beverage. F&G appears to be using a model with which I am unfamiliar. In speaking with store personnel, they appear to have little say in what products are on the shelves in what quantities. Those decisions appear to be made by the wholesaler, jobber or direct vendor delivery driver. This would explain the “holes” that quite often appear on the shelves because product has been diverted to larger stores that have ad sales going on, more shelf capacity, or stronger management pushing for product.

    The goal for in-store labor costs in the supermarket industry were generally between 8 – 10% of sales. When those costs rose above the goal, hours or positions were often cut to meet the goal. This proved to be a short-sighted response which resulted in the responses noted above and more lower sales because of a drop-off in customer satisfaction. A good example of this is what happened to Giant Food when Ahold bought the company and took some of the same actions that F&G appear to be taking now. It was only after they turned over management of the stores to Stop&Shop and returned to the generally accepted model that Giant’s sales started to return. It took several years for the situation to turn around but by that time many of the good employees were employed elsewhere and customers had found other stores to shop at.

    The Chairman of Giant Food had a philosophy that you can’t train people to be friendly, you have to hire friendly people who treat customers like they would like to be treated. Donald is the epitome of that philosophy and is the unfortunate victim of corporate short-sightedness. I’m sure that he will land on his feet just not in a nearby retailer.

    As for F&G, I doubt if they knew what they were getting into when they bought the Super Fresh sites. If they want to have any modicum of success with the local store they need to do a full scale marketing effort of reaching out to the local community to communicate their lack of integrity and what their plans are to address the shortcomings of the store. Given the demographics of the area and the sales volume of the store, probably not much chance of that happening.

  22. gerry maynes says:

    Hey that’s Great. He is a great guy. He is going to a bad situation in Cambridge. His store is a former Safeway converted to a Super Fesh and is not in great shape. The store is located across from a Walmart and has had most of its volume go away over the last few years. I wish him luck.

  23. Janice Dickson says:

    I am very happy for Donald. I hope he can do something with Cambridge. It’s dubious compensation though for being let go.
    When I wrote to F & G, among other positive things said about Donald, I accused them of racism in firing Donald, as supported by the picture taken upon the store’s opening. Having a black manager, I said, in Chesteetown was a very positive step for community relations. Firing Donald, I continued, might leave the black community with a low opinion of the store’s upper management. Recently there are fewer and fewer patrons at the store, black or white.
    I agree with Bob Ampula: F & G’s marketing seems to be scattered and almost nonexistant; it seems like they bought the MD SuperFresh on spec and thought “let’s see if this will fly.”

  24. Betty Carroll says:

    Donald Greene is one terrific person – always presents himself in a friendly professional manner. I wish him the very best always. He will be missed in Chestertown area.

  25. Marge Fallaw says:

    Three cheers for Donald’s reinstatement and promotion! But I hope that his greater home-work distance won’t mean that we in the community concert band (Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble) will lose him as a trumpet player. He has been a devoted, faithful member since the band’s founding in 2001.

  26. Doris Olsen says:

    Donald made Super Fresh. He was always friendly, singing and helpful. He went out of his way for the people that came in there. Now Cambridge has a good employee. Fresh and Green is hurting, there is never more than 10 people in that store anytime that I have been in there. Prices are higher and the cashiers don’t seem to care if they wait on you or not. Employees are not very helpful. We need some competition here like Redners.

  27. dennis mccarthy says:

    And Donald plays an excellent Trumpet for the Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble!!!!!

  28. Ed Sadler says:

    I have known Donald for almost 20 years, and he is one of the most competent and pleasant people I’ve ever met. His laughter is contagious, and can change your mood for the better from the other side of the store! He also brightened the scene at the hospital and dancing with the stars, where I also met his mother and see where he gets his goodness from. If that’s how you treat wonderful people, I would like to address the two top people in the company that let him go as Dumb and Dumber!

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