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by Kevin Coupe

Just wanted to take advantage of the moment to wish Dorothy Lane Market, of Dayton, Ohio, a happy 70th birthday.

But for the record, as impressive as the seven-decade run is - and the fact that it has been owned and operated for that entire time by the Mayne family - I think it is important to focus on what Dorothy Lane Market does, not how long it has done it.

Longtime MNB readers know that I’m an enormous fan. (This confuses some folks who think I am in thrall only to the charms of Amazon.) But what makes DLM so special is that it may be at its core a bricks-and-mortar retail business, it never has been restricted or inhibited by the walls of its three stores. Rather, DLM has always been about the magic and imagination of great food - the look of it, the smell of it, the taste of it.

The folks at DLM - and this applies not just to the Mayne family, but also to all of the highly committed and enthusiastic people who work there - understand that part of the magic of creating a compelling food store experience is to work resolutely and tirelessly to be differentiated in every department, in every aisle, with every product.

And, it has just as relentlessly focused on its customers - DLM has been pioneering in its development of loyalty marketing programs that turn its customer base into a community of food enthusiasts.

DLM was doing it long before there was an internet, long before there was an Amazon. And it ends up that this strategy and these tactics are perfect for the current competitive climate, and DLM’s three stores have continued to grow and thrive and set standards for excellence.

Not every store can be a Dorothy Lane Market. Not every retailer can be a Norman Mayne or a Calvin Mayne. But this independent grocer is a classic example for how you don’t have to be big or omnipresent or the developer of an ecosystem to be successful in business and of service to your customers. You just have to be different and committed and passionate.

Seventy years. Wow. That’s a long time.

But let me remind you, one more time, of something that Norman Mayne told me, that a “reputation is something you had yesterday. Today, you have to earn it all over again.”

I’m sure there will be a cake. (It’ll be delicious.) There will be wine. (It’ll be outstanding) There may even be some singing.

The next morning, the folks at Dorothy Lane Market will go to work and do it all over again.

And that’s the Eye-Opener.
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