Joanna's Team Holds Their Own Against Grocery Goliaths

Nov 4, 2013

Two generations of Ledermans running Joanna's Marketplace in Miami.
Credit Tom Hudson

Late August 1992 was going to be a memorable time for Joanna Lederman, her husband Alan and sons John and Michael. They had spent the spring and summer getting ready to open a new independent grocery market.  After all the product testing, tastings, employee training, inventory stocking, marketing and other work to get a new business off the ground, they were all set.  

Joanna's Marketplace was going to open for the first time on South Dixie Highway in Miami on August 24, 1992. Then Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida.

Credit Tom Hudson

Just three weeks later, the store opened and sold its first grocery item. A bulb of garlic.  Now 21 years later, John and Michael Lederman run the store and say it continues growing despite increased competition from national and regional markets like Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's and Publix's expansion into gourmet items.

One way to compete is through what's on the shelves. Michael, who is in charge of selecting what Joanna sells, points to a 10 ounce jar of pluot jelly. It sells for $12. That's not cheap. Not by a long shot. But Michael says they've been selling a lot of it, illustrating the success of the strategy focused on exclusive, one-of-a-kind items.

WLRN's Sunshine Economy visited the store during a busy lunch hour and learned of another way Joanna's is competing against the bigger names: ready-to-eat meals.