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Smith: Frank Green, founder of Green’s Grocery, knew how to run a business

POSTED: February 2, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Obituaries are noted in the news every day. I suppose that once a particular age threshold is crossed we start to pay more attention to these news items. In the past day or so, the local death notice of a true entrepreneur caught my eye. The man who went to his reward was Frank Green.

Mr. Green spent 90 years on this earth. With his wife, Lillie Mae and son, Ronnie, Green opened a neighborhood grocery store in 1950.

There is a term commonly used about the way business and life used to be conducted. "Old school" means a number of things. Included in the old school description are items such as manners, courtesy, ethics, responsibility, hard work and integrity. Frank Green was an old school alumnus. For those of you who are starting out or have been in business for a few years, allow me to share some traits of Frank Green and his grocery store.

  • Five-cent bread. The story is told that some number of years ago a large, well-known grocery store opened not a stone’s throw from Green’s Grocery. The big and mighty grocery store sold bread at its grand opening for 25 cents a loaf. Undeterred, Frank Green put his bread on sale for 5 cents. The larger store eventually closed and is now a church.
  • Advertising budget. To the best of my knowledge I am not sure how much, if any, advertising Frank Green ever did. He really didn’t need too much promotion. Why? His customers and word of mouth were his best advertising.
  • Service. As soon as you walked in the front door at Green’s, you were greeted by name and with a smile. It didn’t stop there. If you wanted a product and it wasn’t on the shelf, Frank Green would make sure it was the next time you came by. Your items are carried to your car with a smile. If you were at home for whatever reason and couldn’t get to Green’s, simply call and your groceries would be delivered. On top of that, you were allowed to sign for your groceries and pay later.
  • Wise use of space. Green’s grocery is probably one-fifth the size of a chain grocery, if that large. Frank Green wisely used every inch of space available.
  • Quality Shopping Without the Frills. To be sure, Green’s offers quality products. However, if you are seeking fake thunder when the produce is going to be watered, Montovani played through a stereophonic sound system, or samples of caviar, Green’s is not your place. It is simply a clean and neatly kept grocery store.
  • The grapevine. It is said that if you need the intelligence about anything around town, Green’s has the latest news. Frank Green didn’t invent the grocery store; he just knew how to operate a business and deliver service.


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