52-Year-Old Supermarket Continues to Serve the Community
Namesake store continues to make customers a priority.
In a shopping center just off Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase Supermarket has seen its share of change. In a time when the recession and new development have forced business closings, the 52-year-old establishment has stood its ground literally while witnessing a new Starbucks, Einstein Bagels and the conversion of the Chevy Chase Bank to Capital One.
Through all of this change, Chevy Chase Supermarket has continued to serve its customers. The secret to their success, says part-owner Jason Kirsch, is its commitment to customer service and personalized attention.
“Customer service is our biggest priority,” said Kirsch, who along with his brother Kevin, are part-owners of the market.
Their father, Walter Kirsch, passed away in 2009 after taking over the store in 1985. The market moved to its current location in 1964.
Kirsch casually greets incoming customers in blue jeans and an apron, inquiring about the health of family members. A woman asks about canned dulce de leche. A man walks up to the register with a cart full of groceries. Kirsch begins assisting the man with his items.
“Did you find everything OK?" Kirsch asked.
“Yes,” said the man.
Scenarios like this happen every day in this community store, which Kirsch believes keeps customers coming back.
Efficiency is also important. Employees work with customers to get them in and out quickly, and to ensure that the service remains personalized, there will be no self-service lanes, unlike its larger chain competitors. There is also a small pharmacy and deli.
Part of good customer service is anticipating customer needs. At Chevy Chase Supermarket, full-sized shopping carts stand alongside miniature car-shaped carts, and a yellow M&M statue greets kids at the front of the store. A faux lounge area, complete with three small chairs, has been created near the back of the store for weary little feet. These things, Kirsch says, help keep kids entertained while their parents shop uninterrupted.
“We’re the most friendly store around,” Kirsch said. He adds that it’s not uncommon to see kids running around the store.
“The idea is to keep the kids happy for the short time that they’re here.”
Part of the store’s commitment to the community is its partnerships with local businesses. Stores like Creative Cakes in Silver Spring and Bethesda Bagels sell baked goods, while flowers from a local dealer in Washington, D.C., are delivered daily.
“We’re a small business, and we like to help other small businesses,” Kirsch said.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, two cookbook authors, Paula Shoyer and Aviva Goldfarb, whose books are for sale in the store, set up a demonstration table to show customers simple recipes for the holidays. Shoyer, the author of "The Kosher Baker," is a regular shopper at the store.
“I’ve been shopping here since I first moved here years ago, and if they move, I’ll have to move," Shoyer said.
A couple who stopped to sample the simple pasta that Goldfarb prepared echoed this sentiment while flipping through her cookbook. Customers continue to shop, stocking up on local and international foods, while the smell of freshly baked bread and coffee permeate the air.