Tuesday, June 18, 2019
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5 Questions With…

Lee Milam

Max & Lee Milam

It was a space worth waiting for for the MIlam family. After moving to Pinecrest in the late 70s, the Milam family set their sights on a grocery space in Pinecrest Plaza that was, seemingly always, occupied. So they waited. “Every few years, my father contacted the family that owns Pinecrest Plaza to express our interest in opening a Milam’s Market in the location one day, should the space become available,” says Lee Milam, the company’s chief sales officer. “And of course, in early 2017 we received a phone call from the family and the rest is history!” We spoke with Lee (one of 12 family members working for the company) about their latest store to get the lowdown on what makes Milam’s special, how that beloved wine section came to be and why special orders are on every store menu.

A lot of people don’t realize that Milam’s is a family-owned and run business. How many family members work for the company and how does that affect what comes through on the customer end?

We are fortunate to have a large family (my father has nine siblings) and we now have 12 family members working for the family business. It’s amazing to come to work every day and see your parents, uncles/aunts, siblings, and cousins. We all have strengths in different areas and it really helps us to take on various aspects of running a business with utmost detail. Our local involvement also helps us to quickly adapt and react to circumstances that come our way. An example of this would be Hurricane Irma in 2017 – we were the first supermarkets back open (the morning immediately after the storm) and we worked around-the-clock to provide cold water and hot meals to our local communities which suffered from severe power outages. We consider our customers an extension of our family and we truly are here to do anything and everything to serve our community.

How do you see your stores in comparison to other grocery stores. What makes Milam’s unique?

The most common phrase we hear from new customers entering our store is, quite simply, “Wow!” While we are humbled each time we receive such a reaction, it is a testament to what we are working towards. We strive to provide an exceptionally enjoyable shopping experience for our customers through a beautiful, clean store and through “Quality, Variety, and Service…Second to None.” We work tirelessly to ensure we have the highest quality products from produce to meat and seafood… and you can see and taste the difference! We also are constantly reviewing new items (whether conventional, specialty, or natural/organic) to bring into our stores, especially products from local vendors in our community. Finally, we want to provide the highest level of customer service to ensure a flawless, convenient, and satisfying shopping experience.

One of the things people seem to appreciate is the focus on specialty sections and even special orders. Tell us a little about that.

For us, food is not only what we eat to survive, but it’s an exciting adventure! We have access to thousands of fantastic items that you may never see at other supermarkets, and when these items come across our eyes we can’t help but share them with our community. For this reason, not only can you shop for your household basics and name brands, but also a plethora of local, specialty, and gourmet items in our stores. We continuously tailor our stores to fit the specific demographics (i.e. nationalities) of the surrounding communities and actively solicit requests from our customers. Over time, as we continue to learn the needs of our Pinecrest community, you will see the Pinecrest store further evolve into its own, special Milam’s Market that is best fit to serve the community.
Regarding customer requests, if a customer is ever looking for a specific product, we make every attempt we can to source the product for them. If we are able to bring it in then we will let the customer know as soon as it hits our shelves. We are blessed to be able to serve our community as a local supermarket, providing our neighbors with products they are looking for is truly our pleasure.

Wine is another standout for customers, has that always been a focus and why?

My grandfather, Thomas Milam, took an interest in growing the wine department in our early years. He saw an opportunity to create a point of destination for our customers and offer an expansive variety of wines from around the world. For many years now, Mike Milam (my uncle) has personally managed the wine assortment and worked with vendors to continue growing our variety while ensuring highly competitive pricing. You’ll find our wine department organized by country, so walking through the aisles is like a sommelier’s trip around the world! Also, as a result of Mike’s high level of engagement with this department over the years, we are able to offer many wines at reduced retail prices throughout the department. We are proud to say that you will not find a wine offering like ours at any other supermarket in South Florida.

What’s new in the Pinecrest store and why did you choose to open in that location?

Pinecrest is a natural southward extension of our current locations surrounding the Coral Gables area. The truth is that we’ve always loved the Pinecrest Plaza location and have yearned to operate a store in Pinecrest for decades. My grandparents, Joan and Thomas Milam (one of our founders), moved the family to Pinecrest back in the late 1970s. My father actually attended Miami-Palmetto High School.

While the store largely resembles the same assortment as our Coconut Grove location, occupying a similar footprint as this store, the Pinecrest store does have a larger offering of Kosher products such as Kosher wines, Kosher dairy products, Kosher fresh meats and chicken, etc. Over the next year, our goal is to have additional in-store events to enhance the experience for our Pinecrest customers. We are also working to increase the amount of in-store tastings available over the next few months so our new customers can try out some of the unique items we carry.

Milam’s Market is located in the Pinecrest Plaza at 11701 S. Dixie Hwy, Pinecrest, FL 33156. Please call (786) 350-2200, or visit milamsmarkets.com for more information.

Andrea Carneiro
the authorAndrea Carneiro