Q & A With Operations Manager T.J. Bruning
What was your background before Local Choice Produce Market?
I grew up in Portland and later moved to Vancouver where I attended high school in Brush Prairie. During my first couple years of college, I began working for a grocery store, and bartended at a local restaurant. After graduating from Washington State University with a Bachelors degree in Finance and a Minor in Jazz Studies, I worked in various sales and management positions. Prior to Local Choice I spent the last few years as a restaurant manager for a large corporate chain. I was responsible for most of the operations: IT support, budgeting, forecasting, customer service, and scheduling for a large service crew. This is where I began to earn the name “Mr. Spreadsheet.”
What makes you excited to work with the market?
After working for different large corporations, I was excited to work for a small, locally owned family business. To bring my skill set from managing all things operations to a brand new startup company is very exciting to me! And of course my passion for good Local Beer…
What does a normal day look like for you?
I wear a lot of hats on any given day. The primary focus right now is getting the market open. I’m working closely with our buying department. We’re continuing our search for a few more local suppliers. Right now, we’re looking for a locally owned Potato chip company. Our promise is to support small, artisan producers, so we’re creating a point-of-sale system that’s flexible enough to work with different suppliers of all ranges and types of products.
I also work closely with our General Contractor to make sure that our equipment’s being delivered on time and addressing any issues that may come up. We’ve been planning this for almost a year now and now it comes down to making sure all systems are installed and operating correctly. We can’t wait to share the great local foods we’ve found with the neighborhood and to introduce some unique programs that we have created! We’re also working with the neighborhood association to make sure we are a positive contributor to the community.
What makes Local Choice Produce Market different from other markets?
The term “local” is such a buzzword now. What’s unique is that we’re adding a new level of legitimacy and transparency into what that word really means. We will only purchase from companies that are headquartered in Oregon or Washington with at least 50% local workforce. Period. Most grocery chains here offer some local products, so that’s not new, but believe it or not, keeping the money here is new. We are proud to say that every dollar spent at Local Choice Produce Market supports the local economy!
We’re not raising the bar, just bringing back an old one: a shorter distance from farm to fork. We have so many great products right here in our own backyard, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve found!
Do you make a great local product, or maybe you’re a local supplier? T.J. wants to hear from you! Download the New Supplier Form and New Item Form, and email the completed forms to T.J. at firstname.lastname@example.org.