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Lucia (Lucy) Caluori

Retail Store Leaders
Franchisee, Fortinos Main Street Hamilton, Ont.
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Grocery Business Retail Store Leaders profiles the champions of grocery stores across Canada

How did you start in grocery retail?

Fortinos was a family business, and my parents, Stan and Maria Filice, were among the original owners along with two other families (John and Pileria Fortino, and Umberto and Gina Spagnuolo) who were my uncles. l was almost one year old when the first Fortinos opened in Hamilton on King Street, so the business has always been part of my life. I have such fond memories, having spent many days through the summers at the store as a young girl. In my teens, l began working part time as a cashier, and not long after that, l knew l wanted to become a store manager. That vision was realized 25 years later in 2004 when l became franchisee/store manager at the Main St. West location in Hamilton.

What do you like best about your work?

The interaction with people, both my customers and staff. I also enjoy the excitement of the business, especially during seasonal times. No two days are alike; there is always a variety of experiences and challenges every day. We are very passionate about doing our part in supporting the less fortunate in our community. No one should have to go hungry. I’m very proud to work with five different food agencies and outreach groups, seven days a week, to provide food to those in need. The donated food is made available from many departments within the store, both fresh and dry products. Many volunteers play a significant role in assisting, and in some cases, bringing the food to the streets where it is being distributed.

How do you manage stressful in-store situations?

I see the retail floor as our stage, so remaining calm in any situation is a must. I also think it’s imperative to gauge the stress levels of managers and support them in any way I can to alleviate stress and concerns they may have.

Have you had a memorable customer encounter you can share?

l have been a franchisee/store manager for 20 years, and over the years, it’s amazing how well you get to know your customers and how much they share, about their struggles and updates on their families. These relationships are very special to me, and this is when you know that you’ve become more than a grocery store to these customers.

Do you have a favourite merchandising display?

The Christmas season, with all the creative merchandising and new product offering.

What is an important lesson you’ve learned in your years as a store manager?

Respect everyone. You meet all types of people and I often say “every house has a story,” which to me means you never know what someone is going through. So, we should judge less and care more.

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