Unsung Heroes
Brendon Cameron and the City Market team
by Jacque Garcia
The Times-Independent
Jan 18, 2018 | 1282 views | 0 0 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City Market assistant store manager Dan Lotfinia (left), store manager Brendon Cameron and floral manager Melaine Wareham take a moment out of their busy day at work to pose in front of City Market’s floral section on Monday Jan 15. 		            Photo by Jacque Garcia
City Market assistant store manager Dan Lotfinia (left), store manager Brendon Cameron and floral manager Melaine Wareham take a moment out of their busy day at work to pose in front of City Market’s floral section on Monday Jan 15. Photo by Jacque Garcia
Brendon Cameron does not view himself as an unsung hero, or any kind of hero, at that. Under his leadership, however, the City Market team has become a cohesive unit that is invested in serving Moab and its people.

“The biggest thing you could do for me is to recognize the team,” he said of the City Market staff members. “They help each other out, and their whole goal is to do well for the customers. They care about how the whole store looks; I’m lucky to have those good people.”

A little over 18 months ago, Cameron jumped at the opportunity to become the City Market store manager; he moved his wife and his one-week-old daughter from Fort Collins, Colo., to Moab. “We vacationed here and played here, so when the job became available, we jumped on it,” Cameron explained. “My wife was going to kill me because we moved right after [the baby was born], but everyone’s doing well.”

Since Cameron took over as store manager, City Market has seen marked improvement. “What the company judges us on is the online scores. What I judge us on is how the store looks and the satisfaction of the customers,” Cameron continued “When stores can really make a change, they’ll see a move by one or two percent. In some of the areas here, we’ve seen more than ten.”

Sara Melnicoff, Moab local and founder of the non-profit Moab Solutions, has noticed this improvement. Of Cameron’s role, she said, “He keeps the shelves full, he keeps the crew happy.”

When considering the store’s success, Cameron remains focused on his team. “We have a lot of comments about how the store has really turned around, and it’s because of the team here. After I started we found three really good assistant store managers.” One of those positions went to Dan Lotfinia. “We stole him from Denny’s. He was an awesome steal,” remarked Cameron.

Cameron’s pride in his team is to be expected. His employees claim that his leadership style empowers each of them to take initiative and excel in their area of expertise. “He’s always encouraging,” said floral manager Melaine Wareham of Cameron. “You’re never afraid to go to him with anything.” Wareham, along with the other various duties of managing the floral section, creates the flower arrangements for the store. According to Melnicoff, Wareham’s arrangements are part of what make this store so unique. “I started noticing all of the little islands where the flowers were looking really beautiful,” Melnicoff said. “They look so beautiful tourists were taking pictures of them.”

Produce is also fresher lately at City Market, thanks to the efforts of Cameron and produce manager Wrey Spruill. The two worked to convince the Kroger Corporation, City Market’s parent company, to make a fresh produce delivery to the store every day, which previously was not the case. “It’s more of an expense on us, but it's way fresher product,” remarked Cameron. Spruill added, “The clientele are really produce-oriented, organic. Produce is really hard because growing seasons are different, because you’re struggling to keep fresh produce on the shelves. Getting a fresh load every day really helps with that.”

Spruill has been with City Market for ten years. He enjoys speaking with the customers and keeping them updated on how the natural events in this country, from varying growing seasons to the wildfires in California, affect the produce Moab gets. Spruill spearheaded bringing fresher produce to Moab, but he commented that it would not have been possible without Cameron’s support. “He’s very supportive. He used to be a produce supervisor so he knew it was really important,” Spruill explained. “We’ve had good store managers in the past, but the last one we had lived in [Grand] Junction, so he didn’t really get the community aspect. What’s great about Brandon is that he moved his family here, and he’s doing all the activities and getting to know the city council, and there’s really a difference in attitude. He shows he cares.”

Deli manager Tee Kirkendall has also been with City Market for ten years, and she has seen an incredible turnaround in the store over the past two years. “We’ve finally got a crew that cares, and we’re able to hold onto them,” she explained. “That’s the most important thing. They take pride in what they’re doing now. They care about the customers and they care about each other.”

Cameron, Kirkendall added, hired a lot of the staff.

“Brendon is probably one of the best managers I’ve ever had,” Kirkendall remarked.

City Market’s influence also goes beyond the store. It is an integral part of the Moab community— and when Kroger held their annual Big Ring, in which every store raises money for the Salvation Army, the City Market team decided to match the funds raised for a donation to Moab Solutions.

“The problem is, we don’t have a Salvation Army chapter set up in Moab,” explained Cameron. “So we got some people together and fund-raised to match the donation for Moab Solutions, because Sara is actively doing things. I know she’s helped a few of our employees here.”

The store frequently donates food to events and organizations in Moab, including the Celtic festival, after-school programs, and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. “A lot of groups come to me, and as long as it’s a community-based event, we try to invest in it,” Cameron said.

When asked if the City Market team in Moab differs from teams at other stores he’s been a part of, Cameron answered, “significantly.” He continued. “It’s a community. It really is a team, and maybe it’s because it’s such a tight-knit community. Moab is an awesome place with awesome people.”

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