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Vistar Cash and Carrys are closing?


AZVendor

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The Vistar cash and carry in Phoenix has closed and Vistar is only taking phone or internet orders for products that then must be picked up at the Phoenix warehouse.  Prior to the closing I had heard of low inventories of some items (don't know which ones) with some of those items taking forever to be back in stock while Vistar made excuses, and of Vistar being unwilling to take back products that expire too soon or just go bad when they shouldn't, like frozen pastries.  

 

These are not good signs of a healthy vending industry or a healthy Vistar.  The small vendors in our area are of the opinion that Vistar is simply willing to cast off the small vendors in favor of servicing the larger regional and national vendors. 

 

I know that many in the vending industry, especially smaller operators in search of better margins, have avoided the prices at Vistar and made the bulk of their purchases at Walmart, Sam's Club, Costco, etc., but now we are now seeing the fallout from those purchasing decisions.  I am not saying that all vendors should have been purchasing from Vistar.  We all know that corporations like this (owned by Performance Food Group) means they are primarily driven by profit margins but apparently they must feel that they can't sustain a cash and carry.  This is a sad time for all of our local operators, especially the small ones, as one terrific source for them is now restricted without the freedom to walk in and shop for what they need or can't get elsewhere.  They have also now eliminated their best venue for introducing their customers to new products because we all know that a paper flyer or internet ad is not the same as seeing the item up close.

 

I believe this is a short-sighted move by Vistar and I hope it's only happening in select markets, but I fail to understand how, in a metro area the size of Phoenix (population of 3.252 M), that they didn't have enough walk in business to keep two or three cash and carry employees busy.  Back in the heyday before Vistar bought Vendsource out, there were times when you couldn't get a parking space so you could go in and shop.  Having said that, the last couple of times I was at the Phoenix location to visit old friends, I was surprised to see that the cash and carry was not the bustling spot I remembered it to have been and I hoped it only meant that I was there at slow times.  Certainly the vending industry is a shadow of it's former self now but I had not realized how bad business was for suppliers like Vistar, no matter how self-inflicted their sales problems might be.

 

Is this happening in any other parts of the country?

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The local merchant mart seems fine in my region. I have to say though, when I buy accounts from people, my sales usually increase 10-20% because I sacrifice shelf life for faster sales. The customers praise me for better stuff but I stick to basic snacks. Most of that basic stuff comes from Sam's club. Because of that, I don't shop at merchant mart much. I sort of run my product line like Sam's club. If a product doesn't move, I stop carrying it with few exceptions.

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I shop at Vistar frequently, always walk in and buy because I like to see what is new or different, I am a bit upset about them closing the cash and carry side of things. Everytime I have been in to shop there was always a constant line of mostly will-calls. I think by them closing it will no longer be convenient plus a little higher cost there will be more negitives then positives except for 2 of my top selling chips are only sold there that I know of (poore brothers and pork skins). Hopefully u are right about this not lasting long I think we need to start sending emails to corporate about how this will effect our businesses

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When my order was delivered Thursday, the route driver was new to me, but has been working for Vista for 31 years.

 

He told me the routes was been restructured for efficiency.

 

Also told things was changing at Vista. 

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The local merchant mart seems fine in my region. I have to say though, when I buy accounts from people, my sales usually increase 10-20% because I sacrifice shelf life for faster sales. The customers praise me for better stuff but I stick to basic snacks. Most of that basic stuff comes from Sam's club. Because of that, I don't shop at merchant mart much. I sort of run my product line like Sam's club. If a product doesn't move, I stop carrying it with few exceptions.

You nailed it Chris - the biggest mistake I see people making with snack machines is to opt for items with long shelf life that don't sell well to avoid waste.  You need to treat each column like prime real estate and stock what moves - shelf life be damned.  In four months that junk that nobody wants will hit the stale bin anyway.

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Vistar sent me a bunch of "Rye Street" chips with 3 weeks of shelf life. It took several phone calls to get them to pick it up and still haven't seen my credit. They said Canteen never returns their stuff. I asked what that had to do with me? They said to try to sell as much of it as I could and they would credit me with what actually expires. I had to call B.S. on that. I no longer carry Rye Street chips. Vistar sucks but I need the vend-able arrowhead waters and the cans of Snapple and Gatorade they carry. When I find it somewhere else I'm going to cancel my subscription.

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Vistar sent me a bunch of "Rye Street" chips with 3 weeks of shelf life. It took several phone calls to get them to pick it up and still haven't seen my credit. They said Canteen never returns their stuff. I asked what that had to do with me? They said to try to sell as much of it as I could and they would credit me with what actually expires. I had to call B.S. on that. I no longer carry Rye Street chips. Vistar sucks but I need the vend-able arrowhead waters and the cans of Snapple and Gatorade they carry. When I find it somewhere else I'm going to cancel my subscription.

 

I buy arrowhead water from Sam's club

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