Fresh Barons produce attracts bumper crop of customers
By Peijean Tsai
At Barons Market, each produce and grocery item is carefully selected before it lands on store shelves.
For instance, produce shipments are inspected to make sure they meet quality standards. If they don’t, Barons sends the shipment back and calls the company for a replacement, said Moe Shemirani, store manager of the Rancho Bernardo location.
“Every time the truck shows up in here, one of our produce guys goes in, checks the temperature, opens up a package, and tastes (the item) to see whether the product should be sold,” said Shemirani. “We do this right at the beginning, before we even bring the merchandise in the stores.”
Barons Market obtains produce directly from small local farms, such as: La Rath Farms, Peterson Organic Farms, Heartland Farms, and Be Wise in Rancho Bernardo, said Rachel Shemirani, marketing manager for Barons Market, which is a local, family-owned chain of neighborhood grocery stores founded and run by the Shemirani family. Established relationships with local vendors means fresher produce, better food safety and lower costs, she added.
“Not only are we supporting family farms, we’re cutting down on transportation costs, so we are able to offer the customer great deals on local produce,” said Rachel Shemirani.
With grocery items, Barons Market is also very selective. The company holds weekly taste-test meetings at their main office in Point Loma. A roomful of staff members and management try approximately 50 new items every week, from pasta sauces to salad dressings and more. Less than 10 percent are chosen, said Moe Shemirani. The criteria include quality, ingredients, taste, value, and it’s also a plus if it’s locally produced, he added.
“We try to avoid items that are not good for you,” said Moe Shemirani, noting that items with food coloring are avoided. “We don’t carry the regular products that a lot of grocery stores do. We try to get products which are more natural, and if possible organic.”
The focus of Barons Market is to offer shoppers organic, natural and specialty foods at everyday low prices that are 25 to 35 percent less than other markets, according to the company’s marketing manager. Ninety-five percent of the products sold in the stores are organic and/or all-natural, she said.
“We believe eating organic and eating whole foods does not have to be expensive,” said Rachel Shemirani.
Currently the stores’ most popular items are the Ruby Bliss watermelons by Dulcinea Farms; Field Day, an inexpensive organic grocery line; low-salt frozen items; and gluten-free items. Each store has a dedicated gluten-free section, so customers don’t have to hunt across the store for gluten-free pasta, bread and other products.
Barons Market is also a craft beer hotspot, with 400 microbrews, 130 of which are local. Because of their relationships with local brewers, they score allocated supplies that are exceptionally limited, said Rachel Shemirani.
“We really get those hard-to-find seasonal beers, and whatever we can get our hands on,” she said.
Barons Market was started in 1992 by owner and president Joe Shemirani with his brothers Moe, Eli and Paris Shemirani, and cousin Bijan Moossazadeh, with the first store opening in Point Loma. The other three locations opened in Rancho Bernardo in 2000, Temecula in 2006 and Wildomar in 2010.
The business is truly family-run with multiple generations of the Shemirani family. Moe and Eli Shemirani manage the Rancho Bernardo store, Moossazadeh is vice president, and Paris Shemirani is a buyer. Joe Shemirani’s daughters Rachel and Dana Shemirani, who grew up in Poway, are marketing manager and buyer, respectively.
“At the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. We have the same goal, the same agenda,” said Moe Shemirani, noting they are big on communication among family as well as with their staff, the extended Barons family. “It’s very fulfilling for me.”
Barons Market regularly supports the community by donating staff time and products to local schools, sports teams and animal rescue shelters, said the marketing manager. The RB store will participate in the upcoming RB Business Association events, Savour RB Food Faire on Aug. 28 and the RB 50th anniversary celebration on Sept. 22.
The company also is partnering with Rady Children’s Hospital to do healthy cooking classes for the kids at the hospital.
Short URL: http://www.pomeradonews.com/?p=27715