Joel Goldstein still recalls the day he got his first “paycheck,” if you could call it that, he said. “I was seven years old at that time,” he remembers. “I got $.5 each paper that was delivered on my route. That was my pay for the day.”
Now as president of the Independent Grocer Association, he is the third president the association has had since established. “I have always wanted to do this,” Joel said. “There was not much difference in the conversation at home and around the dinner table than what was discussed on my father’s distribution route.”
“I’m inspired by innovative business ideas,” said Goldstein. “To have a product at the right price at the right margin requirement to pay the bills so you can do it all over again is what interests me.”
“I have big shoes to fill,” said Goldstein, describing the leadership of John Mesodian, the association’s immediate past chairman.
“He did such a great job, and I am happy to carry forward the work of the association.” The issue top of mind for Joel today is the cost of labor and how that will change in-store pricing vs. Online. Currently, the government only requires retailers who have a physical presence in a state to collect sales taxes, while those that sell exclusively online get a pass.
“All retailers welcome competition, whether that is through the Internet or the store next door. But, we should all be playing by the same rules. The law, as it stands now, doesn’t treat us fairly. The government is giving an advantage to one type of business over another,” Goldstein said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Joel is proud of his family ties to retail and distribution. “Retailers everywhere are the bedrock of communities. It’s not just about employment; retail is part of the fabric of everyday life. Who sponsors Little League teams? It’s the local business owners,” said Goldstein.
Goldstein says there was never any pressure for him to take up the family business, and that’s the same frame of mind offered to the next generation. “There is another generation, so we’ll see if there is interest in carrying the business forward within the family. Time will tell,” he says.