From an early age, sisters Jill & Beth (left to right) worked at their father’s small dairy store, Stew Leonard’s, when it opened its doors nearly 50 years ago. Those hours spent growing up at the store paid off, as both sisters now function as executive vice presidents of the family-owned business, which has annual sales of $400 million and six grocery locations in the tri-state area.
Beth has a laser-sharp focus on customer service and responding to the ever-changing needs of today’s consumers. She is also the mind behind the Stew Leonard’s in-store bakeries — in the early ’80s, after spending time in France, she had the foresight to add the bakery, proudly recalling that at the time, Stew Leonard’s was one of the first US grocery stores to bake fresh croissants. The two women have been key players in the company’s overall growth. Beth owns Stew Leonard’s Wines & Spirits of Yonkers, which was the first of the company’s wines-and-spirits stores, opening in 1999, while Jill owns Stew Leonard’s Wines & Spirits of Carle Place. Annual revenue from the company’s wines-and-spirits stores is approximately $100 million annually.
Jill is known as the “keeper of the culture.” She’s focused on preventive health for employees and considers it crucial for employee morale. “You can’t have happy customers if your employees aren’t happy,” Jill explains. “We also consider our employees part of the family.” The company offers blood pressure screenings, smoking cessation, and mammograms for employees. It’s just one of the many reasons the company has earned a spot on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” for 10 consecutive years.
Both sisters have embraced their father’s cardinal rule of retail: “He emphasized that the customer is always right,” Beth says.