Imagine running a local supermarket when a superstore comes to town. Will there be a mass exodus of customers? Can you survive? Can you be profitable? Let’s take a look at Bullock’s, a locally-owned supermarket in Truth or Consequences, and learn how this amazing operation has managed to stand tall against a big box giant’s inventory and pricing.  And let’s take a look at the man behind the scenes, Forest Hill, who is the General Manager of this determined, profitable and growing business. 

From Inception to Today

A Family Affair

Bullocks Supermarket Sierra County New Mexico

In 1945, Ed and Flo Bullock opened Bullock’s doors to their first customers in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and it’s been in the family ever since.  After running the store for 40 years, Ed and Flo turned the reins over to their son, Butch. Today, while Butch and his wife, Cheryl, are semi-retired, they still play ongoing roles a few days a week, with Butch working on the books and Cheryl handing a number of tasks, including placing the cheese department orders.

Forest Hill’s Rise Through the Ranks

Bullock's Supermarket Truth or Consequences

Like many successful general managers, Forest Hill started at the bottom. His first job was behind the meat counter, from which he worked his way up over the next several years to the role of marketing manager, while learning everything he could along the way. Having started in 1988, Forest took a four-year break in the early 2000’s, settling into a couple different jobs, including working as a lineman for Sierra Electric.  But when Butch reached out to him in the mid 2000’s, Forest was ready to return, stepping back in as a Partner and General Manager.

Staying Power

Bullock's Supermarket Truth or Consequences

It’s remarkable for any business to survive and grow over a period of decades. This is even more true for a small, home-town supermarket. Over the years, Bullock’s has stood the test of time against major retailers, including Piggly Wiggly and Safeway. Bullock’s has also had to learn new strategies to maintain market share when the dollar stores started popping up in Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte. And when the big gun, Walmart, came to town, Forest admits he felt some angst, knowing that the superstore’s presence in the market would be a game changer for Bullock’s as well as for several other businesses in town. And to top it off, along came Covid with its unprecedented challenges, not to mention the need for a new roof, new floor, and new coolers and freezers. And yet, Bullock’s is not only still standing, but is a growing, highly respected, and profitable business today.

The Bullock’s Difference

Putting the Customer First

Bullock's Supermarket Truth or Consequences

With a staff of roughly 50 full and part-time employees, Bullock’s is 100% prepared every single day to deliver exceptional customer service throughout the store and at the checkout registers. Unlike their dollar store and big box competitors, where it can often be next to impossible to find someone to help, Bullock’s fully-staffed departments mean that help is only a few steps away.  It’s nothing short of refreshing to experience the type of customer service that surely existed when Bullock’s first opened in 1945, a customer-centric focus that is clearly still a priority today. As Forest puts it, “We treat people the way they want to be treated. We bend over backwards to show that we care.”

A Loyal Team

Bullock's Supermarket Truth or Consequences

When Forest talks about his staff, it’s obvious that he respects and appreciates each and every one of them. He knows each team member by name and greatly values the fact that during Covid, when our government made staying home a financially-viable option, the vast majority of his team were loyal to Bullock’s, showing up for work in spite of government payouts, annoying mask requirements, and other workplace mandates.

Making Quality Matter

Quality matters to customers and it most certainly matters to Bullock’s. The produce department is filled with the freshest of fruits and vegetables and the in-store bakery’s cookies, breads, donuts and other delectables are baked fresh daily.  And when it comes to meat, Bullock’s meat specialists are the best in the business, ensuring an extensive variety of fresh cuts every day.  Plus, the Hereford Beef program at Bullock’s brings exceptional and consistent quality, aging, marbling, and tenderness to their customer’s beef selections, with choices ranging from Tenderloins, Rib-eyes, New York Strips, and Porterhouse Steaks to T-Bones and Top Sirloin.

Amazing Choices

Bullock's Supermarket Truth or Consequences

Imagine the selection big box stores offer and then imagine the same in a smaller footprint. That’s Bullock’s. Every department is fully stocked with the products customers want and need. Take the liquor department, for example. It’s almost mindboggling to see how many types and brands of beer, wine and liquor are offered.  And there are some other surprising choices as well, like the amazing selection of specialty cheeses and fresh-baked products. And that’s not all. Bullock’s storewide pricing is very competitive.

Going Above and Beyond

There’s nothing average about Bullock’s. They care about their customers and their community and put that care into action day after day. Customers know that Bullock’s will bend over backwards to fill special requests. For example, many customers were driving to Las Cruces to pick up FreshPet® dog and cat food, so Bullock’s installed refrigerated cases specifically for FreshPet® products.  For customers who can’t leave home or have mobility issues, Bullock’s delivers. And when it comes to the community, Bullock’s gives back through their Cash for Clubs program and are generous supporters of community events as well as school fundraisers and Veteran programs.

A Nostalgic Experience

For anyone born in the mid 1900’s, a shopping trip at Bullock’s will prove to be a nostalgic experience. The store’s overall appearance really hasn’t changed much since it first opened. One might wonder, “How can this store have everything I need?” The fact is, you’ll find everything you need and so much more. At one point, consideration was given to relocating, but since the current location is excellent, the decision was made to stay put.  That’s good news for the customers within walking distance as well as guests at the many Airbnb’s and hot spring resorts downtown as wine, cheese, beer, snacks, and other favorite visitor items are just a short walk away.

Conclusion

For nearly eight decades, Bullock’s Supermarket has provided customers and the community with great products, competitive prices and outstanding customer service, proving that determined, forward-thinking, home-grown businesses can survive and thrive even when national competitors enter the market.  Perhaps Jim Walker, a longstanding customer, best puts it in perspective with this: “I purchase everything I can from Bullock’s. If they don’t have what I’m looking for, Forest will make every effort to order it.  I love the small-town atmosphere. What a great store!  Bullock’s has been, still is, and will continue to be a wonderful asset to our community!”


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