• The Golden Inspiration Chip™ Award

    Golden Inspiration Chip Award

    Have you ever been surprised with a demonstration of kindness, generosity, understanding, and/or helpfulness from a stranger? It might be a person within an organization or business. And maybe not. You know, the great customer service we long to receive.

    When this happens to me, I get so excited that I want to shine a spotlight of validation to acknowledge the person and/or organization they represent.

    I am reminded of Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III who, early in 2009, was able to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River saving all the passengers and the crew aboard the US Airways Flight 1549.

    Often, the occasion I am recognizing is not life threatening nor that dramatic. Nevertheless, it is significant and worthy of acknowledgement!

    Golden Inspiration Chip™ Awards:

    In this area of my website, I have an opportunity to say, “Thank you,” and share a positive experience with you. The person or group being acknowledged through this Golden Inspiration Chip™ Award is truly an example of living the Inspiration Chip™ theory.

    My very first Golden Inspiration Chip™ Award goes to John E. Suydam, Store Director of Raley’s Family of Fine Stores.

    Juhn Suydam and Arlene Kaiser

     Raley's Logo



    In the early 70’s, I had relocated from Hollywood to Fremont, California, to begin my teaching career. Jobs were very competitive and it was difficult to get a contract. After serving as a long-term substitute teacher, I eventually was hired.

    One afternoon, grocery list in hand, I went shopping at Nob Hill in Fremont. After a lengthy time in the store, my cart was overflowing with groceries.  The cash register clicked rapidly as the items were tabulated and we bantered in friendly conversation. As the last few items were bagged, I searched in my huge disorganized purse for my checkbook (this was before credit cards were so prevalent). Pulling out papers, lipsticks, comb, and more papers, my checkbook was nowhere in sight. Then I remembered I had left it on my dinning room table the night before.

    I looked at the numerous bags of supplies and then sheepishly at the checker. “I don’t have my checkbook. I thought it was in my purse. I am so sorry.” He looked at me so kindly and said, “Go ahead and take your groceries home. You don’t want them to spoil, and then drop the check off later.”

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This man I had never met was putting total trust in me. In a flash, I was taken back to the movies of the pioneer days when shopkeepers just had you sign a tab and a handshake was golden. I felt that same camaraderie with this man and his store. I took the bags home, properly deposited them and immediately rushed back to give him the check.

    I met John E. Suydam over 35 years ago. I never forgot him and I have maintained a loyalty to Raley’s Superstores, Bel Air Markets, Food Source, and Nob Hill Foods ever since. He advanced in his Raley’s career from checker to Store Director. He has been in various stores, and for a time, I lost track of him, but he recently returned to a Raley’s in Fremont.  He has gone full circle and he is back to the area where my first encounter with him was so positive.

    Now, lest you think it is a Raley’s policy to let people go home without paying for their groceries, think again! Times are different now, however, the same customer service and loyalty to their customers is constant.

    I have many more positive stories of the Raley’s Superstores.

    In the Milpitas store where I frequent, Carter Bolten, Store Director, and his team continue the tradition of Raley’s as published on their website:

    In everything we do — from introducing a new prepared foods to introducing a new store location — our customers come first, As a company, we’re dedicated to making your grocery and food shopping experience the best it can be through friendly service, delicious meal ideas, and everyday value.



    I had never visited the Raley’s website until I started writing this article. I was surprised to see that the founder, Tom Raley was a believer in GOLD…read about Tom Raley’s Golden Discoveries. I am sure that he would have been pleased to know his tradition is being carried on. And in our world of today, it is needed more now than ever before!


    John E. Suydam, Store Director of Raley’s, Fremont, California, the spotlight is on you with the Golden Inspiration Chip™ Award!