Sunset aims to set itself apart in the market
Marian Morkek prepares various samplings for shoppers at Sunset Foods in Long Grove on Nov. 13. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 27, 2012 12:31PM
LONG GROVE — They come from Seattle, New England, Alaska and Florida … and end up on the dinner tables of Long Grove and Lincolnshire families.
“They” are the selections of the seafood department at Sunset Foods, and T.J. Tazioli, spokesman for the grocery store, said the company carves out it niche by doing a few things better than the competition.
“Our seafood department, you could write a book about our seafood department,” Tazioli boasted.
He almost hoped that someone would: As the 50,000-square-foot flagship store at 4190 Illinois Route 83 approaches its second anniversary, Tazioli fretted that too many potential customers still may not know about it.
“We’re still getting the word out there, believe it or not,” he said. “It’s a process, getting to know your neighbors.”
The process continued last week, when Sunset hosted a wine-tasting fundraiser for the Buffalo Grove Rotary Club. Stephen Legge, club president, said his chapter was on its way to getting to know its neighbor in Long Grove well.
“Sunset has really embraced this as a great activity,” Legge said. “We’re very blessed to have them be as nice a business as they are.”
Sunset has been getting to know customers for 75 years, and now houses about 50,000 different products in its Long Grove location, Tazioli said. The company introduces about 5,000 new items into circulation annually. Some of those come from Didier Farms, just a few blocks east on Aptakisic Road, a Sunset vendor for more than 50 years, Tazioli said.
Other offerings come from thousands of miles away, of course: king crab legs from New England and Alaska, whitefish from Lake Superior and stone crabs from a fisherman named Mike in Florida. Tazioli said Sunset has, for years, bought 100 percent of Mike’s catch.
“He’s basically an employee of ours,” Tazioli said. “He catches it ... next day, it’s in our stores.”
And though no one else in Long Grove knows Mike, Tazioli said their repeated visits to Sunset show that Mike, and the store, are finding the right niche.
“You make customers one at a time,” he said. “They don’t want to see the same thing that they saw in every other store.”