Although Andrew Burkett III has been a Shoppers Value Foods store manager for only a year, he is considered by the company to be one of the best, according to Clint Caldwell, Shoppers Value general manager.
“Andrew has all the right stuff. He’s dedicated to the company, but more so, he’s dedicated to his customers,” Caldwell said.
Just how dedicated is Burkett to his customers? Well, recently when one of his regular customers mentioned to him that she wished the Colonial Shoppers Value carried a specific spice, he tried to get it from the warehouse, but it was unavailable in the system. So, on his own, he went to another store that carried the item and bought six bottles of it, added it to the store system — and, as is often the case when they deal with Burkett, the customer was happy.
Burkett, 47, has been with Shoppers Value for 25 years since he was 23 years old. He had earned a degree in nursing, but he still loved the grocery business — the interaction with people on a daily basis.
“The grocery business just fit me,” Burkett said. “Plus, I believe in this company. It’s hard to leave somewhere when you love it. I love Shoppers Value’s commitment to community.”
The community of the 70805 is near and dear to Burkett’s heart. He lives about 10 minutes away from the Colonial store. His mother was a longtime school teacher at Istrouma High School in the 70805, where he graduated.
“The people in 70805 are wonderful. They love their community. They support us. They shop here. They want to patronize their own area,” Burkett said. “The 70805 I love is not at all what’s seen in the press. Sometimes the 70805 community can get a bad rap as a harsh neighborhood. The good thing about our community is the wonderful people who live here do not condone violence. There are many educated people working to make this a better place — and they’re not leaving.”
Burkett takes a philosophical approach to the role Shoppers Value plays for the 70805 community.
“We provide sustenance for the community. Without sustenance, there wouldn’t be life,” he said. “The need to eat is foundational.”
He takes full advantage of opportunities to connect with his customers.
“He spends a big part of his time running a cash register so he can talk to his customers,” Caldwell said.
Burkett knows the Colonial customer base well.
“That’s one of the things I like about working for this company,” Burkett said. “I get to interact with the customers. I know their first names. I know their children and have watched them grow up — and they know me. I get that everywhere. I was on Bourbon Street for Mardi Gras and heard someone shouting, ‘Hey Shoppers Value!’” Sometimes when customers buy certain items, Burkett can’t help but ask them what they’re making.
“I am not skilled in cooking, but they’ll go through the whole recipe with me — that’s a part of engaging with the customer. It’s personal,” Burkett said. “I tried one recipe — a garam masala chicken recipe. My customer told me everything to do — and I got all the ingredients. I even tried making it three different times, but it never came out right for me.”
Another aspect of his job as store manager that Burkett enjoys is working with the 35 employees he supervises. “I’m able to help the employees in bigger ways than I was previously. I hear their problems. I can use my authority to help them — sometimes outside of work because you know, people live real lives,” he said. “I have to wear different hats. I have to be counselor, spiritual advisor — a whole lot of things.”
When he’s not at the grocery store, he enjoys spending time in New Orleans. He says, for him, there’s no need to go any further because New Orleans has everything he’s looking for, including food, music and church. Beyond regular trips to New Orleans, Burkett also enjoys exercising, going to his church, listening to gospel music and reading.
“My joy of reading and my love of music came from my mom,” Burkett said.
He also believes he got his work ethic from his mom — that work ethic and dedication is a boon not only the Shoppers Value, but to the 70805 community at large.
“We are pleased and proud he is on our team!” Caldwell said. “His team loves him. He communicates very well and treats his team like people and not a number. His strength is simply that he cares — about his customer, about his team and about the company. Plus, he’s just a good guy!”