Behind-the-scenes action at grocery stores was nothing we found ourselves spending too much time wondering about. That is, until we met Melissa Eads. As the Marketing and Public Relations Manager for the Kroger Nashville Division, Melissa has her hand in all things Kroger — everything from their newest product (wine) to their charitable giving. Today, she gives us a glimpse into the action, shares a bit of what’s to come in the industry and recommends local restaurants and good books. We are excited to welcome Melissa Eads as our FACE of Nashville!
Are you from Nashville originally? If not, what brought you here?
I am from a small town in south central Kentucky called Monticello. After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University, I met a guy from Nashville and quickly decided Nashville was where I wanted to be. He wasn’t in my life for long, but 27 years later I am still here. I thank the Lord for that guy!
Tell us a bit about your role with Kroger. What does a day in the life of Melissa Eads look like?
I am the Marketing and Public Relations Manager for the Kroger Nashville Division. There are 94 stores in our division across Middle and East Tennessee, Southern Kentucky and North Alabama. I work with a great team, who is responsible for advertising, marketing, community affairs, public relations and government affairs. I also serve as the media spokesperson for our division. I am proud to say that I have almost 27 years with the company.
Is there an interesting tidbit about Kroger most people would be surprised to know?
It is a penny profit business. We operate on one- to two-cent profit margin per dollar. Kroger is the nation’s largest traditional grocer and the world’s largest florist. We operate retail food stores in 35 states under close to two dozen banner names. Kroger is recognized as one of America’s most generous companies for its support of more than 100 Feeding America food bank partners, breast cancer research and awareness, the military and their families, and more than 145,000 community organizations including schools.
How often are you called on by the press to be a spokesperson for Kroger in Middle Tennessee, and what are some of those most newsworthy topics?
I probably hear from a reporter a couple of times per week on average. Of course wine in grocery stores was a hot topic, new stores or remodeled stores that represent an investment in our communities and new jobs, a new program like our Clicklist on-line ordering service or unlimited fuel points redemption that we just introduced all typically generate interest. I am also called on a lot when snowy weather is in the forecast. We love those Kroger alerts!
Why is wine in the grocery stores a good thing for Nashvillians?
Well, competition always benefits the consumer. For many years, wine was one of the most requested items in our stores. Many of our customers moved here from other areas and were surprised when they couldn’t purchase wine where they shop for groceries. The legislative effort for wine in retail food stores lasted seven years, included several setbacks and a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Today we are glad to be able to offer our customers the convenience of being able to purchase a bottle of wine to go with dinner without having to make another stop.
Do you have a go-to wine?
Honestly, I am not a big wine drinker. When I do have a glass, it is usually an Italian or Oregon Pinot Grigio!
You have been involved in numerous philanthropic projects with Kroger. Is there one coming up that may be of interest to our readers?
We have two holiday campaigns that we run each year. Can Hunger, which benefits food banks including Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, and our Food Angel Program, which benefits The Salvation Army. Tennesseans are always generous, but they especially are this time of year. It is great when we can create an event that brings together corporate, associate and customer giving to benefit our neighbors in need.
The grocery industry seems to be changing. Where is it headed (in Nashville and beyond)?
The grocery business is so competitive, and that competitive landscape is always changing. Competitors today not only include those traditional grocery retailers, but mass merchants, dollar format stores, club stores, natural and organic grocers and many online retailers. Convenience continues to drive a lot of purchasing decisions. We want to meet customers where they are, and in order to do that we must continue to evolve. We introduced our Clicklist online ordering service to the Nashville market earlier this year. We now have close to 20 stores offering this service in the Greater Nashville area and close to 500 company-wide. More will continue to be added, as customer feedback has been extremely positive. We also expect to begin testing a ship-to-home service in the near future.
What is the best piece of advice you have received and from whom?
The best advice I ever got wasn’t actually shared in words, but displayed in actions by several people in my life — namely my mom. She showed me the importance of being involved in my community, leadership and living my life in a way that is pleasing to God.
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Christmas Eve candlelight service with my family.
Where can we find you hanging around Nashville?
As one of the inaugural members of the Nashville Boat Club, I like to be on Percy Priest Lake as much as possible during the summer. In the fall and winter I am cheering on the Titans, and throughout the year I enjoy attending many of the wonderful charitable events we have in this city. I also enjoy dining with friends at the many outstanding independent restaurants Nashville has to offer.
What is your next restaurant destination?
Rolf & Daughters for the Garganelli verde! Also looking forward to trying the new seafood restaurant Fin & Pearl set to open soon in The Gulch.
Can you recommend a few good reads?
I just finished Country Music Broke My Brain by Gerry House. Gerry had so many great stories to tell. I really miss him on the radio. And Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is definitely one I recommend to all my female friends. It is Christian fiction and has everything you need in a good read. It was definitely one I couldn’t put down.
What are three things (excluding faith, family and friends) that you cannot live without?
Lip gloss, TV and Country Music.
Thank you, Melissa! And thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s photos.
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