Habor Wholesale Foods


News. Blog. Announcements.

Foodservice Spotlight: River Rock Tobacco and Fuel

February 1, 2019

River Rock Tobacco and Fuel has cornered the fried chicken market.  With two Henny Penny  pressure fryers and a dedicated team they have built a private label convenience foodservice operation that is cooking all day long.  With the help of Foodservice Developer Drew Rochon the fried chicken focused menu is supplemented with side dishes and convenience classics such as corn dogs and deep fried burritos.

Even with the heavy chicken focus, all day parts are represented.  They do feature breakfast burritos and sandwiches in the morning and having these breakfast standards available is very important for the customer base.  Located just off of I-5 in an area where on-the-go meals and snacks are incredibly important, River Rock has maximized their ability to meet these needs.

Private label is very important to them as their brand is very recognizable in the community.  They have worked with Drew to create their own coffee brand as well as the hand breaded chicken program from the ground up.

Working directly with Harbor Wholesale Foods to build the menu has been a key to their success.  Partnering with their Foodservice developer has opened new opportunities for River Rock to take advantage of everything from menu boards to private label branding.  This partnership has set the store up to continue to support the community that has given them so much.

Get Ready To Get Healthy: Harbor Wholesale Foods and Partnership For A Healthier America

January 29, 2019

We are excited to announce that Harbor Wholesale Foods is now working with Partnership For a Healthier America (PHA) to promote healthier foods to our customers and team members in the Pacific
Northwest. PHA was founded in 2010 in conjunction with Let’s Move! by the nation’s health and obesity advocates like former First Lady Michelle Obama, and US Senator Cory A. Bookter (D-NJ). PHA brings together companies to establish meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity and promote healthy eating. They also ensure that commitments are kept by working with unbiased, third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress their partners are making to show what can be achieved when several companies work together. Everyone deserves a chance to be healthy, and PHA works to make healthy food options more readily available in areas
they previously may not have been.

Beginning in 2019, Harbor will be working to update some of our programs to meet PHA’s health standards. PHA has partnered with NACS to create a healthier product calculator that allows distributors, like Harbor, to easily identify packaged foods and beverages that meet PHA’s Healthier Food and Beverage Product Criteria. The calculator considers the product’s nutrient quality (like fat and sodium content) and the product’s primary ingredients (such as whole grains or fruits and vegetables) to
determine if it is healthy or not. The programs being updated include our Snack Right Rack as well as our Fresh Zone Cooler. Currently, about 35% of items on the Snack Right Rack meet the PHA health standards, and in 2019 we are going to be updating the rack so that 50% of items fit PHA’s health standards. The Fresh Zone Cooler currently has 60% of items that meet the criteria, and Harbor will be working to maintain and improve that.

According to NACS, from 2017 to 2018 more than 61% of convenience retailers said that sales of better-for-you items (fruits/vegetables, yogurts,  nuts, health bars) experienced sales gains.

In addition to updating programs and racks, Harbor will be participating in PHA’s campaign, Drink Up. Drink Up was established between PHA and former First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage people to drink more water and more often. You are what you drink, so drink up! Harbor will be creating point of sale materials to promote water consumption as well as begin promoting water consumption around our office.

According to a 2016 report from NACS, bottled water outshined soda in sales for the first time in U.S. history. Bottled water producers pointed to American’s desiring portable, calorie-free beverages for the increase in bottled water sales. This trend is predicted to continue in the coming years.

While you’re flipping through this month’s Retail Solutions, be on the lookout for the PHA Proud Partner Logo. The items designated with this logo meet the PHA Healthier Food and Beverage Product Criteria. The New Year is a great time to start offering more healthy products as customers will be seeking these items out. We also will be adding the Proud Partner logo to items in our Foodservice Solutions book and our monthly
e-newsletters, Fresh Ideas and Popular Products.
Harbor is excited to grow the offering of healthy products that we supply and make them more available for our customers around the Pacific Northwest. Here’s to a healthier 2019 and beyond!

2019 Tradeshow Registration Is Now Open!

January 9, 2019

Registration for Harbor’s 2019 Tradeshow is now open! The 2019 Harbor tradeshow is the can’t miss event of the year. The show will provide the ammunition you need to defeat the challenges in the business and create a winning strategy for 2019 and beyond. The C-Store industry is evolving quickly and this is your opportunity to meet with vendor partners and network with other like-minded retailers who are all focused on building their business.  Still not sure if you should attend? Here are 10 reasons why you should:

1. New vendors for Harbor with exciting new products

2. Great networking opportunities with other Harbor customers and Vendors

3. Customer dinner, entertainment and customer appreciation

4. Awesome prizes based on purchases or raffle drawings at vendor booths

5. Foodservice booth where you can sample products and get great new ideas for foodservice programs

6. See our Zone Programs in person and sign up for them at the show!

7. Try loads and loads of tasty new food items!

8. Best deals of the year!

9. Dress up, and have fun with the sports theme!

10. Meet local vendor Partners and learn about their products

Register today for the show by clicking here

Customer Feature: Holiday Market

December 10, 2018

Not many stores close and then reopen ten years later, but that’s exactly what Holiday Market did. The original Holiday Market store, located in Burlington, WA, first opened in the 1980’s when unemployment and demand for fishing in the area were in high demand. The original store was built around feeding those fishermen and employing some of the local community.

Unfortunately, the store was forced to close in 2008 due to the Interstate 5 expansion, but they recently reopened with a bigger and better operation. The current store has been open for three months and is 6000 sq/ft. When they reopened, they didn’t think twice about working with Harbor once again. ‘We had a great working relationship with our Harbor Rep from our previous business, and we never considered another wholesaler. We appreciate all the expertise and the benefits we get from working with a fellow family-owned business and from our rep Teresa and Foodservice Rep Drew. We also enjoy the benefits such as merchandising by the Store Solutions Team and Graphics from the Marketing team,’ said owner Diane Steen.

Everything about Holiday Market is a family affair. The store is run by Diane Steen, her daughter, Carrie Holmes, her son, Gary Steen, and granddaughter Rachel Holmes. Diane and Carrie run the day-to-day operations of Holiday Market convenience store, while Rachel operates the espresso stand on the property, and Gary operates Skagit Arms and Holiday Sports located next door.

Holiday Market is a destination in the Burlington community. They have a strong deli program, with Chester’s Chicken and a made-to-order sandwich station. Their deli is ever evolving with adding new items that their customers are seeking out. The store was designed to have the cooking area open to the public view, so the customers can see how their food is being prepared.

When you step foot in Holiday Market, there’s no mistaking that you’ve stepped into a destination. With their high
ceilings, open deli area, and unique branding, everything about this store is one of a kind. Their product selection,
customer service, and community driven mindset keeps customers coming back.

Thank you, Holiday Market, for being a great Harbor partner!

Get To Know Harbor’s Purchasing Department

October 3, 2018

Behind all the products at Harbor is the Purchasing team. Their main purpose is to ensure programs, products, pricing, promotions and merchandising are designed to make retailers, like yourself, successful!

The purchasing process starts by maintaining the proper product mix available in the warehouses. The buying process involves everyone in the department such as, Category Managers, Buyers, Logistics, and the Pricing team. A Category Manager’s goal is to optimize all the latest consumer trends by building programs and product selections that drive sales and profit at retail. They also negotiate special promotional pricing with vendors to maximize sales at retail.

After an item is brought in, the Buyers place orders with our vendor partners continuously to keep ample stock on current and future
orders. The Purchasing team meticulously manages costs in an ever-changing market, and the Pricing team works diligently to ensure all items are priced accurately for the customer’s benefit.

Rick Dombroski is the Logistics Improvement Manager at Harbor. Logistics is a very important aspect of procurement success at Harbor. Rick and Alex Johnson have a strong passion for driving costs down by creating efficiencies in supply chain. They negotiate better pick up costs with vendors and created multi-vendor pick-ups with one coordinated truck. This ensures that our deliveries are priced right, on time, accurate and result in more profitability for retailers.

One thing that helps to drive cost savings is that Rick has his Six Sigma black belt. Replenishment Buyer, Jamie Hinze as also obtained her yellow belt in Six Sigma. Six Sigma is all about process improvements, from manufacturing to distribution. Six Sigma helps those who
specialize in Procurement and Logistics to determine where you need to focus your attention and resources. Team Members with specialized skills like Six Sigma training help us to ensure we are at the top of our game when it comes to procurement and logistics.

Foodservice in Convenience Stores is growing rapidly. Harbor’s Champs/Coopers and Birdshack programs along with our in-house Mexigo and Asian Deli programs are on the move. Harbor’s manfacturers choose us to help launch Foodservice products, such as the new Pillsbury Waffle Sandwiches and the Prairie City Bakery program. Foodservice Category Manager, Theo Porter collaborates closely with our dedicated Foodservice Sales team to ensure we’re carrying the best selection of items and programs to drive customer success. Harbor being a partner to both our customers and our vendors is what makes this all possible and creates great results.

Thank you for your great partnership. We’re committed to your success!

Customer Feature: Topp Stop

August 6, 2018

Topp Stop, located in Toppenish in Eastern Washington, has been in business since 2003 after owner Faron Young purchased the location, taking over a previous AMPM location. When the store first opened they sold mostly lottery tickets and beer, but over the years this has evolved, and has changed their sales to be mostly focused on tobacco and their deli.

Topp Stop has been a Harbor customer since 2017. Per the Store Manager, Val, the transition to Harbor was easy, and at a competitive price with great service, resulting in more retail profitability. When first signing on with Harbor, Topp Stop chose to take part in the Harbor Store Solutions program and have their store reset. During the store reset, a product matchup took place, ensuring that Topp Stop was set with the best products and in the right locations. Val said that the store reset helped their store flow better, helping their customers find items easily, resulting in increased sales.

Since teaming up with Harbor, Topp Stop has seen a 4% increase in floor sales. Harbor has also helped them to grow their deli program by 9%. Topp Stopp has dramatically increased their deli offerings, by adding BirdShack Chicken and Tyson/Windsor Asian food programs. Harbor has been able to successfully help Topp Stop implement new, innovative ideas in their deli to grow their business.

In December 2017, Topp Stop decided to replace their coffee program with Java Classics. They worked with their Territory Sales Manager, Adam Roll, Foodservice Sales Developer, James Caldwell, and Java Tech, Jeremiah Pavel, to reset their coffee program. Harbor’s Marketing and Graphics department were also able to help create graphics to make their coffee set stand out. The eye-catching branding on their coffee set helps to differentiate Topp Stopp from the competition, and customers love the change.

Topp Stop is a unique store, as they are located on the Yakima Indian Reservation with five other gas stations on their block, and a Safeway next door. They have separated themselves with competitive prices and a great staff that provides exceptional service. Their service keeps customers coming back, as well as their product selection, deli program and coffee set making their store a destination. Thank you Topp Stopp for being a loyal Harbor customer!

Coffee Set Before

Coffee Set After

Sunscreen Sales & Summer

May 3, 2018

Sunscreens is one of the fastest growing categories of skin care due to the increasing global awareness regarding the impact and damage that the sun can have on unprotected skin. Consumers show increasing awareness that their skin needs all the helps it can get, not just by the application of the sunscreen, but also by helping the skin better deal with the sunlight in general.

UVA and UVB rays are ultraviolet radiation (part of the light spectrum) that comes from the sun. Ultraviolet rays are shorter than visible light, which is why you can’t see them with your naked eye. UVB rays hit your skin’s surface and can turn you lobster-red. Ouch! UVA rays have longer wavelengths than UVB and can penetrate deeper into your skin causing aging and long-term damange. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause cancer. Double ouch!

How can you and your customers protect yourselves from the sun’s harmful rays?

  1. Avoid the sun’s strongest rays and seek shade between 10AM and 4PM.
  2. Sunscreen doesn’t have seasonal preference; Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring rays are all the same. Wear sunscreen all year round.
  3. Listed and look; Don’t neglect your eyes, lips and nose. These facial areas are often overlooked and need coverage too.
  4. Watch our for tracker’s arms! Your left arm often rests on the door ledge by the window when you drive. Arm yourself with sunscreen.


Harbor Wholesale Foods carries Banana Boat products that offer a wide range of sunscreen options so your customers don’t have to worry about getting sunburn this summer. These products include:

284009 – Banana Boat Aloe Vera Gel

2840016 – Banana Boat Kids FC Mist SPF50

284000 – Banana Boat Lip Balm F/B SPF45

2840871 – Banana Boat SPF 30 Bowl

2840003 – Banana Boat Sport SPF30 24ct

2840012 – Banana Boat Sprt Prf Ltn SPF30

Get Ready For The Holidays

May 3, 2018

By: Melissa Molnar, Digital Marketing Specialist

Have you thought about what products to carry for the 2018 holiday season? If not, it’s time to start! The May Harbor Retail Solutions book has fantastic impulse seasonal items to offer.  You don’t want to miss out on these incremental Holiday sales.

Per Candy & Snack Today, 2017 winter holiday sales total category sales equaled $3.9 billion dollars. The holidays are a key time of year to capture incremental sales. Also, premium chocolate saw a 17.1%-dollar gain during the 2017 winter holiday season.  This means people are looking to buy premium chocolate items for gifting purposes. Harbor has a wide variety of both premium chocolate, including a new premium chocolate suggested schematic, and holiday candy items for you to choose from.


In addition to items in the May Promo Book, be on the lookout in September for our seasonal book that will include holiday relative items that are available everyday in addition to more seasonal limited time offers.  With such strong sales opportunities coming your way in the 2018 during the Holiday season, you don’t want to miss out. Your customers will be seeking out these holiday and premium items, so make sure you have them stocked in your store.




Candy And Snacks Today, March/April 2018 Magazine, Seasonal Products Article

Building Your Brand With Social Media

April 3, 2018

By: Melissa Molnar, Digital Marketing Specialist

Do you use social media for your business? Have you ever considered using social media for your business? Why is social media worth it? Summed up, social media is the easiest way to connect with your customers, build awareness of your company, turn a prospective customer into a purchasing customer, and it’s free! Your customers are already on social media interacting with businesses, your company should be in that conversation too!

The main social media channels for businesses are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram LinkedIn and Yelp. However, when getting started it is best focus your efforts on just a few of those channels. If you are wanting to invest time in just one channel, Facebook is where you should be. Facebook has the most evenly distributed demographics, which means that your content will reach the most people. A Facebook business page is easy to set up, however you must have a personal Facebook profile to create a Facebook page.

After Facebook, Instagram is the channel that will create a great return on investment for your time. Instagram is used mostly by people ages 18-29*, so if you are located by a college campus or school, your customers are using Instagram even more than Facebook. It’s important to note that Instagram is best optimized for a mobile phone. You won’t be able to get the full range of features on a computer. Using hashtags on Instagram is key. Hashtags allow for people to find your content and follow you. For example, on a Harbor Instagram post we always include #HarborWholesaleFoods. We also will include hashtags relevant to the post like #Snacks #CStore #NewProducts so people outside of our organization can find the content too.

Yelp is another great channel to use- and chances are your business is already here. People can leave reviews for businesses on Yelp whether they have claimed their page or not. Therefore, it’s important to claim your page so you can respond to reviews, both positive and negative. Claiming your Yelp page is easy, you can start the process by visiting https://biz.yelp.com. After claiming your page, you can also add in store hours, location and photo.! If you have a foodservice or coffee program you can also add that information so when people are looking for lunch or breakfast your store pops up and they know to stop there.

Having an online presence is important and is a great way to make potential customers aware of your programs and services without having to invest a lot of money. So what content should you share? Here’s a great list for starting out:

Daily Foodservice item

Any deals or coupons

Coffee information

New items in your store

Customer appreciation

Employee spotlight

Items in your cold case & hot case

Bestselling items

Host a contest to gain followers

Ask customers to share photos of what they purchase from you

Local events you may be participating in

History about your store

It may take some time to figure out what posts really work well for your customer base, but spending time to create social media will help to create a loyal following for your store!

If you would like to learn more, talk to your Harbor Sales Rep and they will be able to provide the full Tradeshow Seminar presentation for you.

*Stats from wishpond.com

Brewing Success: Coffee As Cornerstone

April 3, 2018

By: Stephen Zirschky, Coffee Program Manager

Did you know that over 60% (200 million) Americans consume coffee on a daily basis? Of those 200 million people, only 14 million purchase their morning brew from a convenience store. With such a big discrepancy, we have to ask ourselves, “why”?

Today’s coffee consumers are much more discerning than in days past. As part of a NACS consumption survey, 51% of respondents stated the quality of their coffee was the deciding factor of where they would purchase on a daily basis. In addition to product quality, consumers are also inundated with choices – in terms of product variety AND customization.

I challenge you to answer these questions:

Is my average cups per day increasing or decreasing? Why?

What customization options do I offer my customers? (creamers, flavorings, syrups, dairy options)

Am I strengthening my offering with other programs? (cold brew, tea, slush, or espresso)

Our data indicates that higher quality blends such as single origin, organic, & high quality coffees are experiencing an average of +10% in growth year over year. Conversely, lower quality coffees & traditional blends are experiencing a (3%) dip. This does not even take into account the impact of offering variety to your customers –79% of whom indicated they choose their coffee destination before leaving home/work.

The big picture is this: coffee is the highest margin program in our stores, it is a traffic driver to our stores, and it is a complementary item. Gone are the days where a $0.99 cup of coffee will drive traffic into our doors. To keep up with not only coffeehouses and drive thru cafes, but major chains in the convenience industry as well – we need to adapt.

If you would like to learn more, talk to your Harbor Sales Rep and they will be able to provide the full Tradeshow Seminar presentation for you.