A team from Philadelphia-based Dietz & Watson was on Florida's west coast over the weekend running a combination promotional taste test and fundraiser for the local Florida chapter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer foundation. Make a donation, get a pink hat.
Rival Boars Head Provisions, of Sarasota, Fla., responded to the Dietz incursion with a caravan of its own red trucks, horns blaring.
"My parking lot was full of Boars Head trucks. It was bully tactics," Bill Conway, owner of the City Deli in Port Charlotte, Fla., told me, of Saturday's demonstration. "I got there, they had 20 or 30 Boars Head trucks blocking my store. They were intimidating my girlfriend that was working here, and the people from Dietz & Watson that were trying to set up this thing. I got out of my car screaming."
The Boars Head people told that, shucks, they just wanted to be part of the taste test. "I asked them, 'Does this little company, Dietz & Watson, scare you?' They tried to tell me they'd give us a better deal on product and service. I told 'em, "I tried you, I like Dietz & Watson better.' After I got here they were gone in ten minutes."
Dietz issued a statement that Boars Head caravans had descended on three more local delis where Dietz was running promotions. "Did they pull product off their trucks and offer samples to consumers? No. They just came to disrupt and prevent consumer choice," said Dietz ceo Louis Eni (grandson of founder Gottlieb Dietz). "And to disrupt fundraising events for cancer research does not get any lower." Boars Head didn't return my phone calls.
At least at his deli, Conway told me, the Boars Head visitors "never did take part in that deli challenge."