New Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Vice President of Produce Scott Schuette Talks Company's Rapid Growth
- by Jessica Donnel
DOWNERS GROVE, IL - Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is a retail chain that has skyrocketed with growth in just the past two years. From just 18 locations in 2015, the company has now shot up upwards of 64 stores—and that’s not counting the ones slated for later in the year. And for Fresh Thyme, like many other retailers, the produce department has been a key part of that growth. Along with switching from third party produce distributors to 100 percent self-distributed model and building its own 300,000-square-foot-distributon center, the company has also been bolstering its team of produce experts. One member of that team who has been hard at work to make the produce department one to envy has been Scott Schuette, who earlier this year was promoted to Vice President of Produce for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.
“Our point of differentiation is pretty simple,” Scott tells me when I ask him what sets the Fresh Thyme chain apart from its competitors. “We sell healthy food and healthy values to customers that want more affordable alternatives. We also offer the consumer a smaller, more convenient footprint to navigate while shopping. Since produce happens to be our companies calling card, we have to lead with strong retails, high volume movement, and almost 30% of the stores daily sales. As goes produce, goes the company!”
Scott has a background rich in retail experience. Since starting as a carry-out nearly 33 years ago, Scott chose to forgo a career using his visual communications degree and instead continue in the fun and fast-paced retail industry. Scott spent over 30 years with the Bashas’ Family of Stores, Sunflower Farmers Market, and then Sprout’s Farmers Market, before being recruited by his longtime mentor Chris Sherrell, CEO of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. With an opportunity Scott said was too good to pass up, he soon went hard at work to help expand the format and grow with Fresh Thyme’s aggressive business model.
Now, promoted to Vice President of Produce, Scott says his work is only just beginning.
“In this new role, my key focus will be keeping sight of our future growth plans and ensuring their success. I will also have both retail and wholesale responsibilities, making sure that Fresh Thyme’s retail and wholesale divisions work together in perfect harmony,” Scott explains. “My on-going focus will be training and development for new members that join this fast-paced team. Not too long ago, retail produce was considered a ‘trade,’ but now it seems to be more of a utility position with less focus on the art and skillset. My focus will be to bring some of those important traits back to the retail part of our business.”
With the rapidly growing company projecting over 150 total locations by 2020, it’s not a bad time to be at the helm of the one of the most important departments in Fresh Thyme’s business. As the company and Scott keep pushing produce to the top of consumers shopping lists, AndNowUKnow will be there to cover every exciting update.