Aug 4, 2022 - Business

How locals get on the shelves at Mariano's

Photo of two men posing for camera while doing a presentation
Jamhal Johnson and Damon Patton pitch Moor's Beer to Mariano's executives. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Every quarter, Mariano's top bosses travel downtown from their suburban headquarters to listen to pitches from local businesses trying to get on their shelves.

Why it matters: Mariano's serves hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans and is a gateway for consumers to buy from neighborhood businesses.

State of play: Called "What's Next at Mariano's," the reality-TV-like event gives about 20 locals roughly 15 minutes each to pitch their product and field questions from a panel of executives.

Photo of people presenting a product to a table of managers.
The Mijenta Tequila team pitches Mariano's executives. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

What they're saying: "Shoppers are always looking for local options," Mariano's division president Michael Marx tells Axios.

Be smart: Just because you have a great local product doesn't mean Mariano's will necessarily carry it right away.

  • "We have to look at where they are with capacity and the process of production to make sure they can deliver the product," Marx says. "The pitch is not the end. If we select your product, it's just the beginning."

Zoom in: That isn't lost on Moor's Brewing, a local Black-owned brewery.

  • "Having Moor's Beer in Mariano's would be a tremendous accomplishment for us," Moor's co-owner Jamhal Johnson tells Axios. "We are prepared to produce to accommodate the demand."

By the numbers: Mariano's parent company, Roundy's Supermarkets Inc., holds 6.5% of the city's grocery store market share.

  • There are 45 Mariano's stores in Illinois alone.

What's next: The company says it will notify local businesses by next week if it intends to move forward with their product lines.

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