Today’s phone comes to you from my favorite new Chicago grocery store, called Mariano’s Fresh Market. Former Dominick’s veteran CEO, Bob Mariano has take then city by storm with these awesome new stores. This is an amazing grocery store where you can sample the food, drink beer, wine and mimosas on the sales floor, and sit and enjoy a meal amongst some of Chicago’s most beautiful and quite friendly people.
Here is Mariano’s website:
One thing I love about Mariano’s is that they still believe in overhead paging. Instead of the paging being obnoxious and over bearing, employees are taught to keep their pages quick and to the point. Many of the managers paging there are former Dominick’s/Omni Superstore managers from the days when Bob Mariano ran Dominick’s, so they brought their abrupt and to the point paging dialects to Mariano’s.
I am actually surprised Mariano’s is using Toshiba. When Bob Mariano ran Dominick’s they were huge Nortel Option 11C customers with Nortel M2008 and M2616 digital phones throughout the stores.
Music is also quite unique in the store, from Classical to Jazz to Frank Sinatra, this store plays it all.
So to the phone system, as modern as the store is, I was quite surprised to see they haven’t taken the IP jump yet. They are using a Toshiba DK Strata digital phone system. This system can be setup in either a Key or PBX format. I believe this store is arranged in a Key System format, because outside lines are shared. Wireless sets are carried by all of the managers. Much more solid and less fussy than the headsets seen at Best Buy and Wal Mart.
Today’s phone is a DK Strata 20 Button Speakerphone with LCD display. These sets are at every extension in the store. The buttons are labeled quite clean and a “Call Release” button is especially helpful (and reminiscent of the RLS button from Nortel) in ending overhead paging announcements. The service desk has a phone with an additional KEM module to direct dial all departments. The 20 button set is generally an executive set. The LCD displays were introduced in 1992, and have evolved from a small display to the phone seen in this pic with a rather large LCD field.
The Strata System was introduced in 1978 with the Strata III, Toshiba’s first electronic, stored program key system. The Strata III was one of the first “skinny wire”systems on the market and led the way to the development of future Strata products. For a while in the 1980’s, some Toshiba sets were labeled Lanier/Harris. I believe Toshiba acquired the telecom end of Lanier/Harris Business Systems sometime in the late 1980s.
The Strata system was quite popular in the late 1980s and all throughout the 1990’s. In the 1990’s I noticed them at Marshall’s stores, my Munster High School in 1997 in Munster, IN, Petco stores, Office Max and many other retailers and offices.
Please see the following link I found online for the complete history of the Strata System:
Interesting side note, I did my internship for design working on a remodel of my alma mater Munster High School in 1997. The PA system was supposed to be connected to the Toshiba system. For some reason the PA guy didn’t want to hook up the Strata system to the PA, even though that’s what the high school had set up previously on an Isotec key system. I fought and found a note in the building specifications that required the system to be integrated with the PA system, and they finally gave in. Today they have upgraded to Cisco at Munster High and the PA system is connected to the Cisco system.
If you ever notice the noise of a hang up on the Strata system, it’s quite unique. It’s almost like a weird hangup and suction noise in one. Hence it’s pretty obnoxious over a loud PA system, so users should always remember to press the switch-hook or Intercom button when ending a page.
Thank you Mariano’s for having a great store in this great city of Chicago, and a great phone system!