Teresa is the President and Owner of the famous Edmonton supermarket, the Italian Centre. Teressa took over the family business in 2001 after her father passed away. She helped grow her family business from one store in Edmonton, to 4 locations, with one being in Calgary. Teresa plans to continue to grow the business, expanding throughout Calgary and is in talks of opening a location in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
In this podcast, Teresa and I discuss how the Italian Centre optimizes social media to engage with customers. We also discuss what she learned was necessary to grow the business from one location to four.
The Italian Centre started in the 1970’s when Teresa’s dad moved to Canada. The locals would ask Teresa’s father about what was happening in Italy, as many of them could not read or understand English. As many locals were curious what was going on, he started to import Italian newspapers. Even though the papers were 3-4 months old when arrived, the locals were so happy to read in their native language and discover what was happening in their home country. The locals were so pleased with receiving the newspapers they started to ask for coffee. Teresa’s father would then import expresso and then locals wanted olive oil and he continued to import more Italian products. That’s when the Italian Centre was born.
Today the Italian Centre carries over 30,000 items from Italy.
Family and community are at the core of the Italian Centre. Teresa’s father taught her that “when you have more you don’t build a fence you build a bigger table.” Those values are transparent in the culture of the staff that works at the Italian Centre.
People enjoy coming to work and love what they do. At the Italian Centre, some employees have been working there part-time for over 10 years!
That’s absolutely, crazy!
When was the last time you heard of an employee having a part-time gig for ten years?
Building this culture did not happen overnight, but instead came with a lot of hard work and time. The Italian Centre stresses hiring the right staff, and people who are in alignment with those values. Also assuring that staff, who are in the appropriate roles are listening to their co-workers throughout the organization regardless of their position.
Check out the full podcast below, to find out more about how you can build a strong culture in your organization.
Core Values in Your Social Media
Teresa Spinelli and I also discuss how social media has helped the Italian Centre in their business. Teresa focuses on creating content around the company and sharing it on social media to engage with customers. Whether it’s something going on in the deli, community events, store updates, special offers, etc. The Italian Centres focus on providing content that engages customers.
With over 13,000 likes on Facebook and over 6,500 followers on Twitter. The Italian Centre not only engages with people on social media who interact with their content but also with anyone who posts a review on their platforms. It allows the company to understand the customers experience better and make changes if necessary. Teresa goes out of her way and connects with anyone who posts a negative review, to not only understand their experience but rectify any issues that may prevent that customer from coming back in.
When was the last time the business owner of the supermarket you recently shopped at, talked to you about your experience? But also, if you had an issue, made changes so you would not have those problems again!
That’s unheard of!
It’s incredible because it shows the values of the Italian Centre of wanting to build a bigger table.
By producing this content, Teressa believes it not only helps with customer engagement, but also helps bring in customers to the stores and ultimately sales.
It’s truly incredible, to see how social media helps the everyday business such as Teresa Spinelli’s Italian Centre.
Check out the full podcast for more tips how you can integrate social media into your business to interact with customers. We also talk more about social media in the first interview on Bee Influenced with Nicholas Malcolm.
3 Tips When Starting a Business
With every guest who comes onto the show, I always like to ask the question: “If you had to give someone three tips when starting a business, what would you tell them?” When I asked Teresa Spinelli the President of the Italian Centre answered:
- Make sure you love what you are doing. You are probably going to spend more time with your business than with your family. If you don’t love what you are doing, then get out, because it’s not going to last very long.
- Have patience. A lot of people have the misconception that they will become overnight millionaires. It doesn’t work like that. You have to put in a lot of time, and hard work.
- Follow your gut. Don’t listen to other people and let their judgments effect you. Instead, follow and listen to your gut.
You can receive more wisdom from Teresa yourself, at one of her Edmonton locations.
Italian Centre Locations
Little Italy, (The 1st Store) is 10878 95 Street NW.
South Side – 5028 104A Street NW
West End- 17010 90 Avenue NW
Willow Park- 9919 Fairmont Drive SE
I’d love to know which Italian Centre location you shop. Leave a comment below which store you shop at and why you love the Italian Centre.