Emily Nelson’s career journey reflects her dedication and passion for the grocery retail industry. Starting right out of high school, Emily’s path began in the bakery department of her local store and now takes her to becoming the new seasonal general merchandise (GM) category manager at Associated Food Stores.
Emily began on the front lines of grocery retail, where she worked in the bakery at Albertson’s in Kaysville prior to transferring to the Dick’s Market in Centerville following AFS’ purchase of the Utah Albertson’s stores in 2009. Over the years, she ascended through the ranks, gaining valuable experience as a cashier and later as a service supervisor and front-end manager assistant.
After five years on the front end, Emily embraced the challenge of becoming a receiver, successfully fostering relationships and negotiating deals with vendors that optimized store sales. This approach led to record-breaking center store gross figures. Emily’s continuous quest for new challenges led her to roles such as dairy supervisor and grocery manager, where she applied her accumulated knowledge to directly influence sales, gross margins and optimal inventory levels.
Emily’s career took a pivotal turn when she joined Associated Food Stores’ corporate office team as the GM seasonal category manager assistant. Approximately six months into her tenure, the pandemic transformed the retail landscape. Instead of viewing it as a setback, Emily saw an opportunity to deepen her understanding of category management. Mentored by Gordon Sanders and Lisa Dall, Emily delved into the category management process, attending vendor calls and contributing to item selection for upcoming shows.
“Both Gordon and Lisa graciously accommodated my curiosity, allowing me to ask numerous questions and giving me access to valuable insights,” said Emily.
Embracing her passion for holidays, Emily relished the opportunity to buy seasonal GM items and set up the showroom at the corporate office, despite the challenges posed by condensed timeframes. This experience, combined with her dedication and curiosity, led Emily to her current position as seasonal GM category manager.
“Emily has a passion and understanding for seasonal trends and merchandising that engages the consumer,” said Lon Herget, director of center store category management. “She is a team player with an analytical mindset and we are thrilled to see her expand and innovate in her new role.”
As the seasonal GM category manager, Emily now oversees the dynamic and ever-changing world of seasonal general merchandise. Her love for holidays and creating a festive atmosphere aligns perfectly with her responsibilities. Emily, a kid at heart with three young children of her own, also stays up to date on the latest trends in toys, ensuring AFS members have access to the most exciting and sought-after items each season.
Emily finds joy in working at Associated Food Stores due to the positive atmosphere created by the leadership team, managers and team members.
“I enjoy our leadership team and managers,” said Emily. “They create a positive atmosphere, have an open-door policy so you can always ask questions and they allow us to have fun while working.”
Outside of work, Emily enjoys quick day trips through the beautiful mountains, vacations with her husband and kids and relaxing on the beach. Her interests and hobbies reflect her love for family, nature and travel.
As she leads her category, Emily’s dedication to creating a positive work environment and staying current in the ever-evolving retail landscape promises a vibrant future for seasonal general merchandise at Associated Food Stores.