Grocery owners set the bar high

The man. The myth. The legend.

For some, the above is a lot of hype. For Hal Neiman, it was 100 percent accurate.

Hal and his wife Jean took what started as a business venture back in 1983 and created a successful family enterprise. Together, husband and wife worked hard to create a business environment that cared for employees and the community. At the center of this growing partnership was Hal, an entrepreneur who felt just as comfortable playing a comic as he did a commander. He enjoyed a good smile, and did whatever was necessary to ensure that customers enjoyed their grocery experience.

Friday was Hal’s last “official” day at the job. Beginning Saturday the store’s management has been turned over from Hal and Jean to the couple’s three children.

We say “official,” because everyone knows Hal still will find a way to probably offer advice from the sidelines.

“We have been joking for years that three days after I’m dead I’ll still be sending out email and voicemails,” Hal said in a recent story about his retirement. “At 74 my role needs to change and do some different things for the company. The kids have a tremendous amount of experience and have bought it from us lock, stock and barrel and we have to give them space to do their thing.”

At a time when being an independent grocery store owner is virtually impossible, Hal and Jean have been an inspiration to many as to how to develop a model that can keep a locally-owned store competitive. Much of it revolves around hard work, good customer service and remembering from where the fruits of your rewards come from. As such, they often have been “out front” in promoting projects and causes that benefit the community.

Enjoy retirement Hal. You and Jean have left all of us with many fond memories.