6 Questions for Rebecca Lee: Purchasing & Merchandising Manager

Q: How did you get your start at the Wedge, and how has your role changed over the years?

A: I was hired as a cashier when I first moved to Minneapolis back in 1998. I spent a few years in the Front End, and then I ran off to California for some serious sunshine. I moved back to the Twin Cities in 2006 with the hopes of buying a house and maybe working at the Wedge again. The Health & Body Care (HBC) department was hiring and decided to give me a shot. I was offered the opportunity to manage these amazing folks the following year and spent the next eight and a half years managing HBC. In early 2017, my dear friend and colleague Fern retired as the Grocery Purchasing Manager. I was ready for a new challenge and was thrilled to be offered the position of Grocery Purchasing & Merchandising Manager.

Q: As a purchaser, you have deep, longstanding relationships with many vendors. What is your favorite vendor story?

A: One of my favorites is the story of Alaffia. Olowo-n’djo Tchala and Rose Hyde met when she was in the Peace Corp in his hometown of Kaboli, Togo. They fell in love and set off to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality in West Africa through the foundation of Alaffia. They are a mission-driven company and measure success through their empowerment projects. They make body care products based on the coconut oil and shea butter produced at their women-run cooperatives but also have beautiful hand-woven baskets and hand-dyed bags and scarves. The products are essential for our long, harsh winters and have a real impact on the folks that produce them. What’s not to love?

Q: How do you stay on top of all the new products and food trends?

A: This information flows in from so many sources. We have many local vendors that just pick up the phone or send an email. Our customers are very on top of trends and are a great resource for new items. We have a fleet of local brokers that keep us very well informed about the newest products available. I read many online resources and attend both local and national trade shows.

Q: The Wedge has always upheld the highest products standards. How will these standards be maintained and expanded with the upcoming consolidation with Linden Hills?

A: Product standards are very important to our customers and staff and a big reason that they shop or work here. We have put a great deal of energy into maintaining these standards over the years in order to best serve our owners. Linden Hills is as passionate about this topic as we are, so our plan is to combine our standards into one that is easy to understand and preserves the integrity we have worked so hard to maintain.

Q: What is your absolute favorite product at the Wedge?

A: There are so many! I’m currently obsessed with whatever apple the Produce department tells me to get. Our fresh ground peanut butter is amazing. Tangerine LaCroix is my go-to beverage of the moment. And I have to give a shout out to the cocoa-covered cashews in our Cheese department. They are ridiculous.

Q: What’s something most customers don’t know about you?

A: I’m restoring my old house a little bit at a time. I’ve learned how to trim out doors and windows, tile a bathroom and install a wood-burning fireplace. I’m currently experiencing the joys and frustrations of building and installing a balustrade and not sure what will come after that. Maybe it will be warm enough to get out in the yard and start planning what will go in the garden this year.

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