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March 14, 2013 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-03-14

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 3B

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 3B

From Page 1A
Zingerman's has achieved
extraordinary success, but
instead of keeping their formula
to themselves, they share it freely.
Weinzweig has written several
books about effective manage-
ment. ZingTrain offers consult-
ing on the art of customer service.
BAKE!, a hands-on teaching bak-
ery shares the secrets of Zinger-
man's most delectable breads and
pastries with over 60 different
School of Music, Theatre &
Dance sophomore Heather Ken-
drick has worked for Zingerman's
for two years and has taken three
of the BAKE! courses.
"It's super fun, and it's really
worth your dollar because you
end up leaving with so many
things you make," Kendrick said.
"I took a donut-making class - my
mom and my sister and I took it
together, and we ended up with
160 donuts!"
Though firmly rooted in Ann
Arbor, Zingerman's has a mail-
order program that extends the
business's reach to the entire Unit-
ed States. In 1994, Mo Frechette
became a founding partner of the
mail order, which now rivals the
deli in terms ofsales volume. When
Frechette was first startingout, his
business was a curiosity inthe food
"There was no food mail-order
business industry; there were
no television shows about food;
there were no blogs about food,"
Frechette said. "It wasn't com-
mon for people to have an interest
in food, or to have that as a pas-
Another passion of the Zinger-
man's gang is travel. Frechette and
the other Zingerman's partners go
on epic adventures, sort of culi-
naryvision quests, to find the ideal
foods for their businesses.
"Ifyou travel with me, I'm going
to drag you to a grocery store,"
Frechette said. "It's my museum."
On a whirlwind tour through
Spain, from Bilbao to San Sebas-
tian, Frechette spent hours perus-
ing the grocery stores' seafood
"You consider tinned seafood
to be a low-end commodity,"
Frechette said. "They treat it like
a great and amazing thing. Things
you'd never think would be in a tin

Give old-
fashioned, local
bookstores a try

Zingerman's offers a customer service training program called ZingTrain that teaches their effective management strategies.

can be found there - barnacles off
the side of a boat, for instance."
After these journeys, employees
share their finds with the rest of
the discerning staff. On an aver-
age month, Zingerman's employ-
ees will taste 200 foods and maybe
two will be considered worthy
additions tothe menu.
"What's considered mundane in
one place and sold in a gas station
is sometimes special somewhere
else," Weinzweig said. "Almost
everything we sell is poor people's
food, but if you're not from the
area where it's produced, it seems
The haters are out there
Another partner with a global
perspective is the Bakehouse.
For 20 years, Frank Carollo and
his staff have hand-crafted every
hearth-baked loaf. They've also
scouredthe globe in search of new
Since 2011, members of the
Bakehouse staff have traveled to
Hungary three times to eat and
to learn traditional artisan bread
baking. The bakers brought their
experiences back with them, sell-
ing Hungarian torts, breads and
soups in the Bakehouse shop.
Zingerman's also offers Hungar-
ian baking classes. As Carollo put
it, "We want our customers to
learn with us."
Weinzweig has a unique busi-
ness philosophy, which may have
been a catalyst for Zingerman's
success. As a Russian history
major, his focus was on the anar-

has shaped his managerial style
and noted that there are striking
similarities between hundred-
year-old anarchist writings and
modern progressive business
"Except one group was going to
jail and one was on the best-seller
list," Weinzweigsaidwithalaugh.
Weinzweig's anarchist utopia
stresses free choice and respect
for individuals, with the belief
that a strong work ethic comes
from conviction in one's work. In
fact, Zingerman's is a place where
the employees truly run the busi-
"We wanted to push decision
down as far as in the organization
as we could, so that decisions were
not going to be made based on who
had the most authority, but who
has a good idea - who has a solu-
tion," Saginaw said.
Zingerman's has been called
"The Coolest Small Company in
America" by INC Magazine and
received high praise from celebrity
chefs Bobby Flay and Mario Batali.
But as Saginaw put it, "The hat-
ers are out there. They hate us to
the bone." These detractors take
to Internet forums bitterly moan-
ing that Zingerman's food is over-
priced, as if they'd been tricked
into ordering a $12 sandwich.
After AnnArbor.com published
a story about Bobby Flay tweeting
from Zingerman's, user "Goober"
griped: "He has the moneyto eat at
Saginaw was quick to admit that
Zingerman's isn't a necessity.
"Nobody gets up and says, 'If
I don't get an $8 loaf of bread, life
isn't worth living.' We don't sell
anything that anybody needs,"
Saginaw said.
Despite the naysayers, Zing-
erman's has flourished by offer-
ing traditional, full-flavored food
whose production value explains
the price tag. The specialty ingre-
dients are imported; Saginaw
noted that by definition you can
onlyget parmigiano reggiano from
Being a good corporate citizen
However, many of the ingredi-
ents in Zingerman's goodies are
grown with pride in Michigan.
"I believe that the local busi-
ness is the backbone of the eco-
nomic system," Saginaw said. "It
is what will drive it and help cre-
ate vibrance."
"You earn your right to do
business in a community by
being a good corporate citizen,"
Saginaw added. "You need to be
profitable but you need to make a
profit responsibly and share that

responsibly with the people you
work with and the community
from which that profit comes."
Saginaw tries to support the
Ann Arbor community by buy-
ing locally whenever possible
and through other philanthropic
endeavors. After taking stock of
the rampant waste in the food
industry he founded Food Gather-
ers, a hunger relief organization.
"The reality is that a line cook
after working 12 hours isn't driv-
ing across town to look for home-
less people," Weinzweig said.
That's where Food Gatherers
comes in. The organization liber-
ates perfectly good leftovers that
would otherwise end up in trash
heaps from local restaurants and
distributes them to community
Weinzweig added, "For some-
body who is in need of a nutri-
tious meal, it's totally healthy, but
maybe it wasn't as tasty as the res-
taurant wanted."
In a time when many busi-
nesses are struggling to stay open,
Zingerman's is already planning
its business strategy for the com-
ing decade.
The plan states that Zinger-
man's will run up to 18 indepen-
dent businesses by the year 2020.
A Tunisian restaurant is already
in the works.
"We've been selling many
Tunisian products that come from
one family, and we've become
very close with the family," Sagi-
naw said. "They are consulting
on this, and the two employees
who are interested in doing this
have stayed with the family and
learned from them."
Always the overachievers,
Zingerman's bought a herd of
Tunisian sheep in order to serve
a very specific type of Tunisian
lamb in the restaurant.
From a tiny delicatessen with
four employees, Zingerman's
has grown to a nationally known
enterprise. They will end this fis-
cal year with $47 million in sales,
18 partners, eight businesses and
about 600 employees.
Though their official birthday
is March 15, Zingerman's will
commemorate over three decades
of service, philanthropy and culi-
nary exploration with an evening
entitled "Celebrating 31 Years
with Ari," on April 3.
The event will highlight the
deli's history and provide a tanta-
lizing glimpse of things to come.
"It'll be a lot of good food and
probably some of the things that
I'm excited about moving for-
ward," Weinzweig said. "A little
past, a little present and a little

The first book Ilever
bought at Dawn Treader
was "Dostoevsky" by
Nicholas Berdyaev. When I
found it, or rather when it found
me, I had
never even
heard of
but I couldn't-
be happier.
During my
senior year of
high school,
I took a lot JOHN
of interest in BOHN
His existen-
tial treatment of Christianity
served to guide me through
what was then my vague, liberal
Protestantism. In "Dostoevsky,"
Berdyaev articulated what he
thought were the main themes
of Dostoevsky's work, and I con-
sumed the book quickly.
Unlike many, that was howI
spent my freshman year's wel-
come week. I don't know exactly
how I would view the book and
its ideas today - Ithave yet to
reread it - but what I won't ever
forget was that rush of excite-
ment I experienced when I
thought I had found the book I
needed to be reading at this time
in my life.
I love browsing bookstores.
The prospect of findingwhat
you didn't set out to find, of
coming across the unexpected,
provides me with a secret thrill.
This past summer, I experienced
that rush of excitement again.
I sat down in one of the chairs
at Dawn Treader, and when I
looked in front of me at the shelf,
there sat "The Rise of Eurocen-
trism: Anatomy of Interpreta-
tion" by Vassilis Lambropoulos,
a professor at the University. I
don't know why this book was
there (especially a practically
new hardcover copy), but it was.
For many reasons, it seemed as
if this was the book I needed to
read. I hadn't heard of it, nor
had Iever really looked at that
shelf before, the one where gen-
eral history meets conspiracy
theory books.
At the time, I didn't have the
sufficient background to fully
understand what it discussed,
and while I probably still won't
understand all the references
ranging from the Reformation
to Derrida, that excitement
rushed over me. Having just
come out of a course on Samuel
Beckett, and in a crisis over the
question of interpretation, this
booked seemed to offer some
Obviously, there are plenty
of other opportunities by which
I could have attempted to
reconcile my anxieties about
interpretation; feel free to write
me off as a mystic for defend-
ing this one. There's definitely
room for that interpretation. Or
call ita gambler's addiction, if

you fancy. Nevertheless, I cher-
ish the experience of walking
into an old bookstore and let-
ting my mind wander. For this
reason, I find myself sensitive
to the possibility of losing this
Businesses come and go
in Ann Arbor; every student
has a different memory of the
city. The welcoming signs of
old State Street businesses
hung overhead my Freshman
year while construction work-
ers busily reminded us that
things were changing. During
my experiences in Ann Arbor,
bookstores seem to have been
most affected. I never got a
chance to check out the famous
Shaman Drum; I only ever saw
the sign hanging above the
door leading into its gutted-out
insides. Borders and Dave's
Books, two bookstores close to
campus, closed within my first
year in Ann Arbor. These places
I went to during my freshman
year no longer existed by the
Let the book
find you.
So I'm a mystic, and now you
have the opportunity to call me
a luddite or a cultural conserva-
tive after the following: Part of
me laments what the Internet
has done to browsing culture.
Looming in the background, the
cheaper alternative of Amazon
ruins the browsing culture
experience. Now I buy books
because I've been told I need
them. Chance encounters with
new knowledge no longer slip
through the cracks; my life and
my readings now all have a pur-
pose and isn't it wonderful?
Certainly Amazon and other
sites have chipped away at
these bookstore's profits. No
one would deny that. I don't
know if this column makes a
good enough case, butI really
encourage those reading to look
at next semester's reading lists
and head over to Dawn Treader,
West End Books and Common
Language among others and see
if they have the book you need.
Who knows - they might! And
I make this argument especially
today because we have coming
to our community a new book-
store, Literati. True,the book-
store sits a little bit off campus,
but the trek out there would
really make a difference.
And even if you don't have a
particular book in mind, check
it out anyway. You'll never know
what you didn't know unless you
step in and see.
Bohn is wandering in a
bookstore. To join, e-mail

On April 3, Zingerman's will have an event to celebrate its 31st anniversary.

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