business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

I took a long weekend, and so I missed this story - the iconic Dorothy Lane Market officially has turned 75 years old.

The Dayton Daily News trumpeted the occasion - it was on August 12, 1948, that founders Calvin D. Mayne and Frank Y. Sakada opened a fruit stand on the corner of Dorothy Lane and Far Hills Avenue in Dayton, Ohio.

Dorothy Lane Markets is still in the family - Calvin's son Norman Mayne and his son, Calvin, run the business, which now consists of three stores in the Dayton market.

Dorothy Lane Markets has evolved enormously from those early days - today, it represents the best in specialty food retailing, with the Mayne family and the wonderful people who work there taking deep pride in the quality and inventiveness of their food and the extent to which they are able to offer superior customer service.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Dayton to speak to the DLM team during a company retreat, and I asked Norman what his goal was for the session so I could incorporate it into my comments.  He told me perhaps the most Eye-Opening thing any retailer ever has said to me:

"I want our team to understand that while we've worked hard and been very lucky in establishing a reputation in our community," he said, "a reputation is only as good as what we did yesterday.  Today, we have to earn that reputation all over again."

I've never forgotten those words.  I steal incorporate them into every speech I give, because they represent an aspirational truth for every business, and a demonstrated, persistent truth about Dorothy Lane Markets.

Sure, they're celebrating a 75th birthday.  Enjoy the moment.  But here's one thing I know. During the next 24 hours, the next seven days, the next 12 months and then the next 75 years, the DLM team will be working hard to earn that reputation all over again.