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Jeffrey Proulx extends grocery store tradition

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CANTON - For 57 years, Bernard F. Proulx took pride in offering a quality product with customer appeal at the Canton IGA grocery stores. Today, his son Jeffrey L. is continuing his father’s legacy as president and chief executive officer of six Save-A-Lot food stores.

“It’s been a tradition in our family,” said Jeff, a Canton native now residing on the Ogdensburg-Morristown Road. “Our focus is to bring the best quality product to market at the best prices. What we do is a direct reflection on our customers. It’s pretty simple. We do our job well and our customer will come back.”

This motto landed Jeff in a recent edition of Grocery Entrepreneur, a national publication focusing on Save-A-Lot achievements. The article was titled, “Jeffrey Proulx: Exceeding Expectations.”

The elder Proulx pinpointed his son’s success, saying the Save-A-Lot stores offer top-rate products, including fresh cut meat, at discounted prices. Mr. Proulx liked the store’s philosophy of really focusing on meat, produce and a limited assortment of fundamental groceries.

“It’s about beating all conventional stores in prices while not sacrificing quality. That’s what Jeff’s stores do,” Bernie stated.

Jeff was introduced to the grocery business at the age of 13, working at his father’s IGA store on 9 Miner Street, Canton, and later at the 2 Main Street Canton IGA market. He and his brother Keith purchased the business from their father in 1989, moving to the Smith Plaza under the Jubilee format. That store closed in 2000.

“I went out on my own, knowing the 15,000-square-foot conventional store was going to be a thing of the past,” Proulx told the Grocery Entrepreneur. “So I opened my first Save-A-Lot in Potsdam in January 2000.”

Proulx now owns stores in Potsdam, Ogdensburg, Gouverneur, Tupper Lake, Bath, N.Y. and Hornell, N.Y. Record sales were generated on the first days of business at the Bath Save-A-Lot in September 2012. He opened the Hornell store June 12.

Proulx attributed his success to corporate leadership, especially in the past six months when corporate Save-A-Lot refocused on who they are and what they will be offering to its customer base.

Such initiatives as the remodeling of stores, freshening of decor, better merchandise with a major focus on perishables, and improved in-store disciplines are now in place.

“We have opened up the aisles and expanded our variety,” Proulx said. “It’s something that has received a very positive response from our customers.”

Proulx’s ability to enhance store operations was accentuated when he was appointed to sit on the Save-A-Lot National Advisory Council. He was one of eight store owners from 1,400 stores to be selected.

“This gets me directly involved in the discussions of the company,” he said, noting council concerns and suggestions are heard face-to-face by Save-A-Lot corporate vice president and department heads.

His wife Melissa S., assists him the human resources aspect of the stores. Director of Operations is John E. Shaughnessy; Robert J. Guyette serves as district manager. Betsy A. Henry runs the corporate office at 22 Park St., Canton. His six stores employ 130 full and part-time workers.

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