Tony Orlando

Owner, Tony O's Supermarket and Catering

Born and raised in Ashtabula, Ohio, Tony Orlando has 50 years in the food business, having started at four years of age in 1961.

Tony purchased his store in May of 1999 from his father. Through the years, he has acquired extensive knowledge of meat and deli departments. He has consulted with other independents to help their businesses grow.

Tony has served on many Midwest beef councils and also was on the Young Executives Council for the NGA, of which he is a charter member.

Tony graduated from Ohio State University in 1978 with a Bachelors in Business Administration. He is married to wife Maria and has two sons, Michael (19) and Stephen (16). Tony is also the President of the Autistic Children’s Foundation. He loves golfing, casinos and talking shop at NGA.

  • Posted on: 03/03/2020

    What will it take to fix J.C. Penney’s shrinking sales problem?

    J.C. Penney is not relevant anymore, and unless they hit a grand slam on an amazing idea they will close their stores. Retail is beyond brutal as margins continue to shrink with higher labor costs, extra incentives to retain the high performers, and the so called "free" delivery, which is a huge offer small stores simply cannot match. Online buying of everything has increased and ordering your favorite pair of shoes or jeans, with free returns, makes shopping much easier than driving to a mostly empty mall. The money is simply shifting away from conventional stores, and I don't see it changing back to the good old days, at least not in my lifetime. J.C. Penney's is on life support, and someone needs to pull the plug.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Independent grocers need to make dramatic upgrades in marketing tech

    As someone who has been to 30 NGA conventions, I can say that the changes in retail have made life very difficult for independent grocers and especially for rural single stores, which are struggling big time. I have read with great interest the comments above. Implementing all of these technologies is not going to save many of these stores. The second- or third-generation owners, for the most part, are trained almost exclusively in center-store, which at one time was the golden goose for the bottom line, with a mix of 75 percent to 80 percent of store sales. As time passed, many owners relied on the knowledge of their meat and deli managers to make their departments grow and prosper, without actually getting involved with hands-on skills -- as they they did not have it themselves. Those days are gone, and anyone who is a single store operator today must have expertise in perishables, as a 50 percent to 60 percent mix is needed to pay the bills. I wouldn't be here if I didn't start cutting meat at 10 and making homemade foods for well over 35 years in our deli. You cannot exist just selling groceries anymore. Now I will address the technology issue. Some have said that without delivery we will perish. Perhaps that may be true for some. Others talk about the importance of AI and mining for consumer data, to personalize loyalty programs that are more effective -- I agree with that as well. For me, I have found social media to be a great thing. Since I cannot afford a full-time tech guru, I utilize my son and a few high school kids to help insert the digital ads into our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and our e-mail blast, with my guidance on content. I added a digital Hot List, which is a second ad each week offering crazy meat and deli deals, above and beyond our eight-page tab, and this is working. I struck a deal with our local paper, to create it all in digital, and it is sent out weekly. So far I'm liking the results, as our area of coverage goes into Western Pennsylvania and towards Cleveland. It takes an enormous effort to stick around in retail grocery, and for those who think they can run their stores like they did even five years ago, they will be out of business real soon. Build your niches in perishables with top quality, promote them on social media and, above all, make sure your service levels are top notch. Sorry for the long post, but I hope you understand my viewpoint on this.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2020

    Why are so many organic grocers landing in bankruptcy court?

    The answer is pretty simple. The mega stores are more involved in these categories, and with their enormous assets, they can choose to wait and see which category is hot and strike back with better prices, and much more variety. There are very few categories of food that the big players haven't taken over, and the startups that made clean eating popular are now staggering towards the abyss of bankruptcy. The same thing has already happened to independent grocery stores in small rural towns. They are closing up as well, being replaced by Aldi, Dollar General, and an ever expanding Walmart Supercenter. These stores know how to crush traditional stores, and more closures are forthcoming. Is this a good thing? Maybe not, but unless an independent can run a superior perishable store, they will not survive as any common commodity now belongs to the big stores. Retail in general is way over stored. The thinning of the herd will level off someday and what is left will mostly be the large players. Personally, I hope I'm wrong. Medicare and SSI is looking better all the time, but for the younger generation of store owners, I wish you the very best.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2020

    Can a new off-price retailer find treasure without opening stores?

    I use Macy's and Kohl's when I get my big 30% or more off anything, and order some golf shirts that I know will fit, and slacks as well. Even New Balance wide shoes are a piece of cake, with free shipping over $75. If I don't know the brand, I'm not buying it online, and I'm sure others feel the same way.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2020

    Is it ethical for resellers to raise the price of Kobe Bryant merchandise?

    Ethical is a slippery slope for a number of industries, and the list is long. Remember the epi-pen, which soared 700% overnight? How about the $15 cases of water before and after a weather disaster in some stores, or generator prices jumping in price for homeowners with no power? None of this is ethical, but it is not illegal, so it will be forgotten over time. Hotels raising rates 2-3 times more for the Super Bowl, or NYC in Time Square gouging folks big time for New Years Eve. Should I continue, or leave it at that? Try and buy a nice home in any major city, and realize it is not possible for the average wage earner. Okay, I'm done. For me personally, it is something I would never do, as Karma finds a way of catching up somewhere down the road, and I wasn't raised that way. RIP Kobe, and I hope some of the up charges get sent back to a charity to help others in need, and I'm fine with that.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2020

    Move over plant-based meat, lab-grown meat is coming

    For me it is a fad, but some folks who are vegetarians like the convenience of getting their plant burgers. Now we have lab-grown meats, which again some folks will be thrilled about since there will be fewer cows expelling gas, ruining our climate. A great Beef burger is what most of us still want when we are hungry, and if this lab-made beef tastes the same, then it might be a viable product. Real cattle is not going away, in spite of what extreme climate change activists want, and we will be just fine. The ranchers will continue to raise their cows, and there is room for plant-based foods as well. Let the consumers choose and I'm betting the results will favor the old-fashioned way, with farmers doing what they always have, which I'm grateful for. Have a great weekend everyone.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2020

    Will store closures worsen in 2020?

    There will be more store closings for sure, and this will continue at steady pace for a few more years. The obvious reasons have been addressed already, and the underbelly of what is going on is how I look at it. The Mega Retailer has imposed its will on many communities, and for rural smaller towns, this hits even harder as small business is in peril of more closures than any time in my many years of business. Here are my reasons why this is going to continue for some time:
    1. e-commerce is outpacing all previous predictions for growth, and it will continue to grab more market share unabated for many years.
    2. Cost of goods for the independent retailers on key staples is heavily skewed in the favor of the Mega stores, who demand huge discounts on these SKUs, and we subsidize the CPG companies with much higher going in costs to make up for the losses they incur from the larger chains. This applies to many categories, like shoes, lumber, hardware, and especially food retailers.
    3. The lack of capital for enhancements, and upgrades to our stores becomes more difficult, as margins get squeezed more each year, and the so called "Free Delivery" is something many of us can not afford to do, and the Mega stores know this.
    4. Healthcare costs are a major factor in being able to provide anything decent for our employees, with increases out pacing inflation every year. They are eating up profits faster than any other issue.
    5. The mandates by states for a $15 minimum wage is another big issue for small business. I have friends retiring early, as the cost of labor has forced them to rethink if they want to continue, and most have packed it in as medicare seems like a better option for them. Without growth in sales, this will put a major hurting on an already shrinking bottom line.
    Bottom line for survival in my opinion is to make sure the consumers that come into your stores know that you can help them in ways the big stores can't. Offer unique items and make sure you back up the service levels in every part of your business. Answering the phone with a real person would be a good start, and being a good listener for what the customer is seeking and acting on it quickly will create an environment of better service than the big boys. I probably could add a few more, but these are my top thoughts on this issue, and I wish my fellow retailers well in making sure they stay relevant to their customers. Have a great day.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2020

    Did Trump’s phase one deal with China deliver the goods for retailers?

    I know I am in the minority on this panel, but this is a first step on a longer time table to level this awful playing field, and it will get better. China has had the upper hand for years, and that is starting to change, which is about time. More work needs to be done, and a lot of good stuff on trade has already gotten done, and my 401K is heading in the right direction. Made in America means a lot to me, and more goods being made here is never a bad thing.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2020

    Will Walmart become a fashion destination in 2020?

    This may work for the younger less affluent generation, but my wife and many of her friends would never buy a thing from Walmart as far as clothing for themselves goes, and with the deals Macy's, Dillards and others all the time, there is little chance to think about buying anything fashionable at Walmart. Pajamas for little kids, a quick t-shirt for my son, or some socks is a about it. Target has a better selection for the value consumers, and T.J.Maxx as well.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2020

    Is Amazon more friend or foe for digital start-ups?

    Working with Amazon can be good initially, but like others have pointed out Amazon can simply create their own version of products and push the original to the back pages of their platform. Walmart has done the same for years in Sam's Club by recreating their own version of a successful gadget or new cleaner, and making a Member's Mark label with even lower price points. These monster retailers control the CPG companies, and there isn't much we as small business start ups can do to grow significantly before a knockoff is created to cut into your sales. That is the caveat for start-up businesses. Find a way to make your own online experience work for your customers and, if successful, the start up wins, which is a good thing.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2020

    Did Domino’s gouge Time Square revelers?

    Good point, Richard. The hurricane situation is a big problem, and for those retailers who jacked their prices up on essentials like water, Karma will make sure they get their punishment in some way, as this is something people of good character should never do. The pizza incident is what it is, and you could always say no as there was no crisis to get a Domino's pizza and if they were willing to pay, so be it. And the folks delivering these pizzas most likely were under duress just to get the job done, with the crazies in the crowd. By the way Mayor, you should be ashamed of yourself for not putting up some nice Porta Potties for these folks, as that is something essential they need -- not the pizzas.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    Are return rates out of control?

    As I read the comments, everyone agrees, and it is out of control with no solutions anywhere to be found. Our consumers are beyond spoiled, and there are a lot of folks who are scamming the return policies knowing if they scream loud enough, they will get their money back no matter how much damage they did to the product, or worse, used it for a weekend i.e. cameras, small appliances, clothing and shoes, and on and on. If this trend continues, profits will continue to slide, especially for the much smaller online folks who are forced to be like Amazon or Walmart just to stay in the game. As Main Street businesses continue to struggle in many rural areas the same thing is happening online as well, and a shake out of niche suppliers online will have to decide if it is worth the effort to continue on. The big boys are watching closely to snap up their customers when they get out of this difficult platform of online selling. It's not easy in brick and mortar anymore and online is becoming a minefield as well, because the consumers aren't going to back out of making returns thanks to cushy return policies anytime soon. Either way, happy New Year.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2019

    Shoplifting gets wild and goes viral

    The policy of these stores is to not stop them. The crooks know the policy, and they could care less about getting caught, as nothing happens to these bums. The Wild West favors the criminals, and it is pathetic to see how bad it has gotten. This will not end well, and I hope no employees are harmed from these gangs of thieves.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2019

    One of the best Christmas commercials ever cost almost nothing to make

    Best commercial in my mind I've seen in many years. That little boy was me when I was four years old cleaning shelves and helping customers. Boy things certainly have changed over the years, and I'm grateful to have grown up working beside my dad, and my mom as well. Fifty-eight years later it still makes me smile to think how special it was to be in a family business and learn the real life skills all of us need in life, not just business. Thanks for sharing this, and I will forward this to my friends today.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Is ‘OK Boomer’ a merchandising opportunity?

    Wow, another whiny moment from our youngsters who feel they have been screwed by my generation. There has never been a better time to find meaningful work, and yet they think they are oppressed. If you want to sell these shirts, good for you, as it actually shows some ambition, which is required to achieve a good life. We have a society of hurt feelings over everything. I say quit blaming others for your failures in life, as all of us have struggled in our lives. My son with autism works five days a week, and is grateful for the opportunity to have a job where people work together and treat him with respect. Sell all the shirts with any slogan you want but remember, we have been in your shoes, and I'm glad my parents raised me properly, always reminding my siblings that nothing is handed to us and to respect your elders. Thank the greatest generation ever, as we just past Veterans Day. If you see a vet, shake their hand and buy them lunch. Have a sit down with them and yes, you will learn some valuable advice.

Contact Tony O's Supermarket

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.