Harmons Tops Progressive Grocer’s 2024 List of Best Independent Grocers

One prominent shared characteristic among Progressive Grocer’s 2024 class of Outstanding Independents – and, in essence, across various years – is their profound engagement with the neighborhoods where their stores are situated, often being residents themselves. The distinctive strength of independent grocers lies in their ability to intuitively understand the preferences of local shoppers and establish enduring connections, a feat that larger competitors, despite extensive demographic research and meticulously selected focus groups, can only aspire to replicate.

The foundation of this connection may be laid through initiatives such as offering locally sourced products, delivering time-saving services tailored to the unique needs of the regional population, or actively supporting local organizations striving to make a positive impact. Independent grocers, represented by the 21 honorees featured this year, have elevated this advantage into an art form, solidifying their role as integral community contributors.

The fact that many of these companies are family-owned points to an important factor in their ability to overcome the many hurdles of being an independent operator in an industry marked by the ever-growing trend toward consolidation of giants: In the office, the storefronts and, ultimately, the towns that their locations call home, success is about cultivating and nurturing relationships. It is by fostering these connections that these independent operations build just the kind of warm, welcoming atmosphere that builds loyalty from employees and shoppers alike.

Originally established as a fruit stand in 1932, Harmons has evolved into the oldest locally owned and operated grocer in Utah. The store now boasts extensive offerings, including handmade artisan breads, gelatos, specialty foods, gourmet cheeses, local meats, honey, salt, and a variety of unique products. Third-generation owner Bob Harmon emphasizes that every decision is driven by the goal of providing an exceptional customer experience. This commitment extends to the store personnel, who prioritize selecting the freshest products for customers.

Harmons has garnered a devoted customer base who appreciates the “helpful and professional service,” the “amazingly friendly” associates, and the availability of over 5,300 local products from a “remarkably talented network of vendor partners,” said EVP of Fresh Foods Todd Jensen.

Beyond its retail offerings, Harmons is renowned for its profound dedication to the community. The grocer actively contributes money, food, and time to enhance the quality of life in Utah, reflecting a core aspect of Harmons’ culture. The retailer has donated over $3 million to local small businesses through its grants program and supported various community causes. Furthermore, Harmons has provided more than 30 million pounds of food to the Utah Food Bank and mobile pantries, while also volunteering countless hours to organizations such as Special Olympics, Bike MS, and other nonprofits.

Also named Outstanding Independents for 2024:

Hayes Market, Headquarters: Waymart, Pennsylvania
Nugget Markets, Headquarters: Davis, California
Oliver’s Market, Headquarters: Santa Rosa, California
Olsen’s Piggly Wiggly, Headquarters: Cedarburg, Wisconsin
PCC Community Markets, Headquarters: Seattle, Washington
Rouses Markets, Headquarters: Schriever, Louisiana
Save A Lot/Dyer Foods, Headquarters: Dyer, Tennessee
Save A Lot/Freeman Family Enterprises, Headquarters: Gaylord, Michigan
Save A Lot/Frenvey Inc., Headquarters: Lake City, Florida
Save A Lot/Horizon Group, Headquarters: Boardman, Ohio
Save A Lot/Houchens Food Group, Headquarters: Bowling Green, Kentucky
Save A Lot/JCP Groceries, Headquarters: Canton, New York
Save A Lot/McPherson Ltd., Headquarters: North Charleston, South Carolina
Save A Lot/MVP Foods, Headquarters: Demotte, Indiana
Save A Lot/Saver Group, Headquarters: Berea, Kentucky
Save A Lot/Suzanne Schmitz, Headquarters: Warsaw, New York
Schnuck Markets Inc., Headquarters: St. Louis, Missouri
Teal’s Market, Headquarters: Albany, Minnesota
Three Bears Alaska, Headquarters: Wasilla, Alaska
Tom’s Food Markets, Headquarters: Traverse City, Michigan