Dorignac’s: Preserving Tradition while Embracing Change

Regional Staple

Dorignac’s specializes in hard-to-find and local items. The store provides its community with fresh and local groceries along with a personal, service-driven experience.

Originally opened in the Lower Garden District in New Orleans between Magazine Street and the Mississippi River, the company became part of the city’s culture because of its focus on customer service, convenience and quality products. In 1963, Dorignac’s moved to the site of its current location on Veteran’s Memorial Boulevard in Metairie, and the store has become a reliable vendor for a variety of both local and international products.

Building and maintaining a loyal customer base is one of Dorignac’s main objectives. This is one of the reasons why the company specializes in niche and local items. By being consistent with the provision of quality products for its customers and catering to many different submarkets, such as highly prized religious and ethnic foods, Dorignac’s has enabled itself to become a local favorite.

“The ability that we have to cut our own meat and to make fresh products on a daily basis is a dying trend,” Dawson says.

“We also place a great deal of focus on having as great a concentration of as much locally grown products as possible,” he adds.

There are a number of changes currently taking place to Dorignac’s market. These include changes to the demographics of its area as well as changes in consumer tastes, the store’s product mix, and the way consumers’ access and research information on the products for which they are looking. Making sure that it can adapt and evolve has helped Dorignac’s to keep up with these changes.

“Technological advances are one of the huge factors for us,” Dawson says. “Technology affects our point of sales systems and the way that we advertise, and social media has also added a new element to our customer marketing efforts. In addition, consumers today are much more health conscious than they were in the past. We work hard to try to assist them with all of their special dietary and nutritional needs.”

Modern Improvements

Always looking to put its best foot forward, Dorignac’s is currently in the midst of a renovation to the store. As it is operating out of a building that is more than 50 years old, the company deemed the renovation a necessary investment. However, while Dorignac’s is making some much-needed changes to the store, it is also being very careful to ensure that the renovations stay true to the legacy that the company has built.

“We felt that the store was in need of a facelift to help us attract new shoppers while also allowing us to enhance the shopping experience we provide for our current shoppers,” Dawson says.

“At the same time, our reputation and legacy are extremely important to us, so we were careful in designing changes to not infringe upon those areas that make us the institution that we are,” he adds.

Securing the Best

Rather than tearing the building down and starting over from scratch, Dorignac’s is doing its best to become more efficient with its equipment and facility costs. The company updated the store’s facade by adding more windows to allow for a nice view into the store while also adding more natural light to the inside. In addition, Dorignac’s is improving its bakery, produce, cafeteria and deli departments by adding equipment that will allow it to better prepare and merchandise its products.

Beyond the renovation effort, Dorignac’s has made a number of additional key investments into the company. Technology and new equipment have been the biggest focal areas, while training and investment in employees is another constant, critical investment area.

“We also continuously strive to secure the best products to bring to our customers by keeping our partnerships and communication with local suppliers strong,” Dawson says.

Having established itself as one of the largest grossing food centers per square foot in its market, Dorignac’s has many reasons to be proud of its past and confident in its future. For example, the ARC of Louisiana recently voted Dorignac’s as employer of the year for its assistance in finding ways for special needs individuals to find gainful and productive work. Clearly, Dorignac’s has become an integral part of its community, and that will continue to be its goal in the future.

“It is our belief that we can help people to help themselves to eat their way to a healthier life,” Dawson says. “We must also ensure that the time period from farm to market continues to shorten so that our products are the freshest they can possibly be.”