South Burlington, Vermont
Produce Merchandising Consultant
Articles from CDS Consulting publications
Articles in Cooperative Grocer
Other works by James Morrell
For the past decade he has been produce manager at City Market Onion River Co-op in Burlington, Vt. Throughout his career James has advocated a dynamic approach to merchandising, sales and customer service, by cultivating partnerships with regional vendors and farmers, and establishing mutually beneficial customer relationships for increased community food access and local distribution. James is a popular presenter, sharing his expertise at numerous industry conferences, including Northeast Organic Farming Association, Expo East, and the University of Vermont Farmer Training.
“I want to remove the boundaries between people and their food through engaging merchandising,” James said. Art and music-making have also played a part in his approach to teaching visual display and retail operations management. “There’s a connection with food, merchandizing and art,” he said. “Sometimes I think retailers can be too conservative, and it’s important to be bold in merchandising.”
James also said that mastery of retail systems fundamentals is equally important. Produce is a high-labor department, and effective systems to manage labor, pricing, shrink, merchandising and sourcing are critical to surviving competition. “You need to make sure your bottom line is sound,” he said. Customer service also needs to be a priority, especially in produce departments where a customer’s first interaction often takes place. “Everything goes through the customer service experience. In the produce department there are conversations about food and where it comes from every day.” He thinks co-ops have an important opportunity to nurture deeper connections through food in their communities. James's approach is to give clients the tools they need to foster that link by strengthening their visual identity, enhancing retail systems and being high-functioning department performers.
S'ra DeSantis, M.S., UVM Farmer Training Program Co-Director/Instructor
Michelle Langmaid, Organic Produce Specialist