Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. No non-grocery posts.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by BatteryMill »

mjhale wrote: May 31st, 2021, 8:53 pm I recall reading perhaps over on the Acme Style blog that Weis does not remodel acquired stores until they absolutely know things are going to work out. This isn't anything new for Weis. In the 90s when I was at Shippensburg University Weis bought the local Cresslers chain. Cresslers had just built a modern supermerket south of town which Weis wanted as a replacement for their aging, small store northeast of town in the then Kmart Shopping Center. It wasn't until a good five years or so later that I recall that Weis actually took down the Cresslers interior and made the store look like a Weis. (Side Note: The Cresslers in Chambersburg was originally built in the 1950 or 60s as another grocery store that I don't recall. The store was on Route 30 near the hospital and was demolished for a new build Walgreens.)

My guess is that the stores that Weis acquired that have not received any interior work from Weis and are not the only game in town will go quietly either when the lease is up or when Weis' operation agreement as a part of the Ahold-Delhaize divestitures expires. I suppose Weis thought this might be another opportunity to get out of their PA stronghold. But it seems they just can't do that much in suburban areas when there is competition. To bring this back to Winchester, perhaps if Weis wants to expand they should continue down I-81. That area is similar to what they are used to operating in. The next major town down I-81 from Martinsburg is of course Winchester.

Lastly regarding Fredericksburg, I completely agree with you. Winn-Dixie stopped in Fredericksburg. So did Ukrops. And Publix did too until their recent Stafford location opened. For a long time the only Wal-Mart Supercenters near the southern DC area were in Culpeper and Fredericksburg. Interestingly Giant still has Fredericksburg locations but I believe they wanted to offload those and keep the Food Lion locations until the community protested. I've always thought that for retail, and especially grocery that Fredericksburg is the last stop before the DC market. If this is really true I have to wonder when Publix will finally make a stab at DC proper.
I think you may be able to best judge by what Food Lion acquisitions have already shut down. I do quite wonder if the divestment agreements have lapsed over at Shop 'n Save or if that did not count. In any case throughout the areas Food Lion has sold to Weis, I do hope they'll have a solid chain in line to take their presence.
These are the only places around here you'll be able to see older Food Lion decor, as the nearby locations Food Lion retained have finally undergone a remodel wave. As for remodels, there has been at least one FL acquisition that I know has remodeled. It happens to be a rather interesting job though - walls repainted with many Bloom artifacts remaining and a pharmacy shoehorned into the front end.

Certainly agree, I'd say that about a few fast food chains like Hardee's or Cook Out for instance.

Publix-wise, I have not heard of any direct interest just yet in going further than Stafford. There have however been some rather convincing sites for potential Publix stores in NoVA from renderings/brochures I've seen.

And yes, Walmart was probably the last market in the country to get Supercenters. I don't understand NoVA skipping out on them, but some suburban Maryland counties such as Prince George's and Montgomery have demonstrated resistancet to Walmart expanding existing stores or opening new SCs.

On the topic of Giant, Ahold and Delhaize seemed to have been fickle as to where they'd keep their overlap, as both Food Lion and Giant-MD coexist in different pockets of the region to this day. Giant also seems to be the only consistent standard grocer in Fredericksburg/Stafford besides Weis.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by mpieron »

Just found this site/thread and had to chime in as this is a topic of great interest to me. Enjoyed reading the thoughtful insight above. I have given this serious contemplation since Shop 'N Save left after only a relatively short time and around the same time that the Fresh Market closed. I have theorized that perhaps there was an agreement between Ahold/Delhaize and the owners of Shop 'N Save to shut down after a certain period of time. I also imagined that it is more profitable to pay for leases on these empty spaces (former Food Lions/Shop 'n Saves) than to allow a viable competitor to take over. I simply can't figure out how none of these spaces can find someone to lease...even for anything.

However, I will digress from that line of thought and look at this more objectively. Frederick County/Winchester alone has approximately 122,000 people. High competition with low profit margins in the industry for groceries is perhaps the fundamental reason our choices are limited and was cited in the closure of all of these stores. I commute and pass by several Harris Teeters and a Wegman's every day of the week, and am very familiar with them and like them. You can't beat Wegmans but, outside of the merchandising/ambiance/appearance, these stores have a lot in common. I can find most things I want at Martins though I have to give the edge on seafood and meat to Harris Teeter and Wegmans...and I think their produce is fresher too. One other thought on this: I would rather have a few well stocked grocery stores with diverse selections than a large number of stores that are operating on thin margins and have less varied selections.

As stated very well in this thread, I don't think having a Weis, Kroger, or Giant Eagle would enhance the market or provide cheaper prices. In my opinion, they have nothing to offer over Martins. (Fresh Market filled a void for me and I miss it-still wish we had something like that. ) The challenge in getting another brand is we already have 3 super Wa Marts soaking up much of the demand, 4 Martins, 2 Targets with some degree of grocery shopping and the other independents that have been referenced. Here is an interesting comparison: Loudoun with a population of 450,000 has two Walmart Supercenters or one for every 225,000 residents where we have one for every 40,000 residents. This has to have an impact on the available market for more companies to participate in. I will add that a recent newspaper article stated that Lidl is in the process of sharing the two sites it owns locally so it looks like we can forget about that one too.
Recently, this newspaper article described an initiative by the Frederick County Economic Dev. Authority: https://www.winchesterstar.com/winchest ... 62e3b.html


Getting close to the end here.... I recently saw a design for Heritage Commons that showed that draft layout for the development (between 81 and 522) that included a grocery retail pad. Prime location between all of the subdivisions east of the city and easily accessible from the city itself. Would be a great place to put a prime store like Harris Teeter or Wegmans....however, still begs the question to me-if Roanoke can't have a Harris Teeter despite its size and close proximity to Greensboro, how could we?

Finally, there is an elephant in the room- I think the real question that needs to be answered is "what are we looking for?" In other words, what do we hope to gain in drawing in some competitors? Is it cheaper prices, a more pleasant experience, more selection, better quality produce/meat/seafood? Perhaps it is different things for different people. Please accept my aplogies if I got too far out of bounds on my first post here. Thanks!
Last edited by mpieron on July 7th, 2021, 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by veteran+ »

IMHO, what I want is choice...........................many choices!

Choice is power....................power to shop at different places and power to work at different places.

Choices force retailers to work harder, innovate and LISTEN to their customers and employees instead of being so comfortable and "fat" in their profits.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by storewanderer »

When Supervalu took Food Lion Stores over and rebranded them Shop N Save, it was very clear this was a transaction done solely so that merger could go through. Similar to the Haggen transaction out west with Albertsons/Safeway, this was a scenario where stores were sold to an operator that clearly was not going to last. And in the same manner as with Albertsons reclaiming dozens of divested stores from bankrupt Haggen, when Shop N Save went bust, multiple stores were re-claimed by Ahold/Giant.

Right from the start Supervalu was talking about transferring the acquired Food Lion Stores to independent operators. I'm not clear if that happened at all?

It looks like every single one of the stores is not even supplied by Supervalu at this point.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by mjhale »

storewanderer wrote: July 10th, 2021, 5:44 pm Right from the start Supervalu was talking about transferring the acquired Food Lion Stores to independent operators. I'm not clear if that happened at all?
None were that i know of. It was just the right words for the FTC to hear to let the Ahold/Delhaize merger go through. While we are at it what independents other than ethnic grocers actually exist in the I-81 corridor where Supervalu got the old Food Lion stores? The only one I can think of is Sunnyway Foods in Chambersburg and Greencastle. I can't see them expanding anytime soon.

Not to be cynical but one could propose that Delhaize dumped all the junk Food Lions on SuperValu to get the merger through. As you said SuperValu really had no interest in them. SuperValu runs them for the time they have to and then closes them. Amazing that Ahold-Delhaize swoops in and cherry picks the good locations for Martins. Notice that Martins reopened the old Food Lions in Greencastle and Berryville which both have little other competition.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by BatteryMill »

mpieron wrote: July 6th, 2021, 11:19 am Just found this site/thread and had to chime in as this is a topic of great interest to me. Enjoyed reading the thoughtful insight above. I have given this serious contemplation since Shop 'N Save left after only a relatively short time and around the same time that the Fresh Market closed. I have theorized that perhaps there was an agreement between Ahold/Delhaize and the owners of Shop 'N Save to shut down after a certain period of time. I also imagined that it is more profitable to pay for leases on these empty spaces (former Food Lions/Shop 'n Saves) than to allow a viable competitor to take over. I simply can't figure out how none of these spaces can find someone to lease...even for anything.

However, I will digress from that line of thought and look at this more objectively. Frederick County/Winchester alone has approximately 122,000 people. High competition with low profit margins in the industry for groceries is perhaps the fundamental reason our choices are limited and was cited in the closure of all of these stores. I commute and pass by several Harris Teeters and a Wegman's every day of the week, and am very familiar with them and like them. You can't beat Wegmans but, outside of the merchandising/ambiance/appearance, these stores have a lot in common. I can find most things I want at Martins though I have to give the edge on seafood and meat to Harris Teeter and Wegmans...and I think their produce is fresher too. One other thought on this: I would rather have a few well stocked grocery stores with diverse selections than a large number of stores that are operating on thin margins and have less varied selections.

As stated very well in this thread, I don't think having a Weis, Kroger, or Giant Eagle would enhance the market or provide cheaper prices. In my opinion, they have nothing to offer over Martins. (Fresh Market filled a void for me and I miss it-still wish we had something like that. ) The challenge in getting another brand is we already have 3 super Wa Marts soaking up much of the demand, 4 Martins, 2 Targets with some degree of grocery shopping and the other independents that have been referenced. Here is an interesting comparison: Loudoun with a population of 450,000 has two Walmart Supercenters or one for every 225,000 residents where we have one for every 40,000 residents. This has to have an impact on the available market for more companies to participate in. I will add that a recent newspaper article stated that Lidl is in the process of sharing the two sites it owns locally so it looks like we can forget about that one too.
Recently, this newspaper article described an initiative by the Frederick County Economic Dev. Authority: https://www.winchesterstar.com/winchest ... 62e3b.html


Getting close to the end here.... I recently saw a design for Heritage Commons that showed that draft layout for the development (between 81 and 522) that included a grocery retail pad. Prime location between all of the subdivisions east of the city and easily accessible from the city itself. Would be a great place to put a prime store like Harris Teeter or Wegmans....however, still begs the question to me-if Roanoke can't have a Harris Teeter despite its size and close proximity to Greensboro, how could we?

Finally, there is an elephant in the room- I think the real question that needs to be answered is "what are we looking for?" In other words, what do we hope to gain in drawing in some competitors? Is it cheaper prices, a more pleasant experience, more selection, better quality produce/meat/seafood? Perhaps it is different things for different people. Please accept my aplogies if I got too far out of bounds on my first post here. Thanks!
mjhale wrote: July 11th, 2021, 3:49 pm
storewanderer wrote: July 10th, 2021, 5:44 pm Right from the start Supervalu was talking about transferring the acquired Food Lion Stores to independent operators. I'm not clear if that happened at all?
None were that i know of. It was just the right words for the FTC to hear to let the Ahold/Delhaize merger go through. While we are at it what independents other than ethnic grocers actually exist in the I-81 corridor where Supervalu got the old Food Lion stores? The only one I can think of is Sunnyway Foods in Chambersburg and Greencastle. I can't see them expanding anytime soon.

Not to be cynical but one could propose that Delhaize dumped all the junk Food Lions on SuperValu to get the merger through. As you said SuperValu really had no interest in them. SuperValu runs them for the time they have to and then closes them. Amazing that Ahold-Delhaize swoops in and cherry picks the good locations for Martins. Notice that Martins reopened the old Food Lions in Greencastle and Berryville which both have little other competition.
Thank you for joining in on this conversation, mpieron. Hope you get a great grocer out there. I think it depends on who's the most on an expansion run, and it doesn't seem like most of these are willing to enter Winchester/Front Royal as of yet.

By looking to have these sites closed within some time despite selling to someone else, is it just a sneaky way to steer away competition? Ahold did not opt for this with the Food Lions sold to Weis for instance, therefore assuming the SnS divestitures were in a weaker position than the rest of the sites they unloaded.

Loudoun now has three Supercenters with Leesburg, Arcola, and Sterling, although the population share for each store is still sure to exceed how it is divided out in the Shenandoah Valley.

Interesting you mentioned Harris Teeter as a candidate for Roanoke, as they left the area in 1999 due to distribution challenges and lack of consumer familiarity. Even if they tried today, it'd be hard for HT to set foot into these markets given the chain is now a subsidiary of The Kroger Co. Nevertheless something on its level like Publix or Lowes Foods wouldn't fare too bad in that metro area. Harris Teeter meanwhile could be a good population fit up in Winchester.

Wow, I just found that out! There are two more commercial developments going into Winchester now, that being Crosspointe Center (east of the 81/37 interchange) and Winchester Station (along Crossover Blvd, next to the center with Target and Petco). Only time will tell if each will be able to fit in a unique grocery anchor.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by buckguy »

The market saturation of Walmart goes a long way toward explaining the lack of mid-market competition. Wegman's actually seems like it would be a better candidate than H-T for Winchester because it would be more of a regional draw and less of a mid-market chain. They have a store in Frederick, MD which has some similarities despite being a bigger market with fewer Walmarts. OTOH, Winchester has much more in terms of well-off retirees and weekend people and that may be why, like Frederick, it supports a Costco. If they can do that, they could support Wegman's which would be a draw for the second home people who are scattered in the neighboring areas and for people wanting to make a stop on a weekend roadtrip to to Shenandoah and beyond.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by BillyGr »

BatteryMill wrote: July 13th, 2021, 3:16 pm By looking to have these sites closed within some time despite selling to someone else, is it just a sneaky way to steer away competition? Ahold did not opt for this with the Food Lions sold to Weis for instance, therefore assuming the SnS divestitures were in a weaker position than the rest of the sites they unloaded.
Or was it more that a chain like Weis came along and made offers for the stores they thought were the best/most likely to succeed as part of their chain, and the remaining ones were only done as a requirement and thus however they could get rid of them - not thinking or caring who took them as long as they could satisfy whatever rules were given?
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by BatteryMill »

buckguy wrote: July 14th, 2021, 6:59 am The market saturation of Walmart goes a long way toward explaining the lack of mid-market competition. Wegman's actually seems like it would be a better candidate than H-T for Winchester because it would be more of a regional draw and less of a mid-market chain. They have a store in Frederick, MD which has some similarities despite being a bigger market with fewer Walmarts. OTOH, Winchester has much more in terms of well-off retirees and weekend people and that may be why, like Frederick, it supports a Costco. If they can do that, they could support Wegman's which would be a draw for the second home people who are scattered in the neighboring areas and for people wanting to make a stop on a weekend roadtrip to to Shenandoah and beyond.
Great suggestion, would cover the area nicely. I hope Wegmans won't have transport challenges. I still however would like mid-market grocery chain to cover everyday shopping needs and the corners of the market (especially Front Royal) that Food Lion/SnS left behind.
BillyGr wrote: July 14th, 2021, 9:35 am Or was it more that a chain like Weis came along and made offers for the stores they thought were the best/most likely to succeed as part of their chain, and the remaining ones were only done as a requirement and thus however they could get rid of them - not thinking or caring who took them as long as they could satisfy whatever rules were given?
While this may be why Weis has closed the ex-Food Lions they did, it is strange to see this be the rule across every FL/SnS in Winchester and Front Royal. Of course as we've mentioned it's more of a dicey area to Weis, but it's strange that no one would have scooped up the rest with effort. You still have to take in the case of SuperValu's gradual discontinuation of their own retail ventures, like that, Farm Fresh, and the others they've spun off.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by mjhale »

Here is a link to SuperValu's request to sell five Food Lion turned Shop n Save stores back to AholdDelhaize. Two of the five stores - Berryville, VA and Martinsburg, WV - were divestitures from the original consent decree that prevented AholdDelhaize from going back into areas where divestitures occurred.

https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/docume ... public.pdf

What is interesting reading to add to the discussion here is Section IV where SuperValu lays out its intent and then what happened after it purchased the stores that were required divestitures and ultimately became Shop N Save. It sounds like a comedy of errors in retailing and in my opinion provides some insight on why SuperValu was failing with its chains. Changing pricing strategies, lack of anything interesting to draw in customers. Food Lion was never a great operator. However SuperValu was even more plain vanilla and boring. Seeing that SuperValu experienced large sales declines after starting to operate the x-Food Lion stores makes sense. I was visiting Chambersburg, PA regularly when the change over occurred. There was a good contingency of people who were loyal to Food Lion. They liked the smaller stores that still had decent product and they operated on the far northern and western parts of town where Giant did not have locations.

Bringing this to the discussion of Winchester, it seems based on the information in the sale request that SuperValu did market the Shop N Save stores around pretty vigourosly. Based on the chart in Section IV, Part C there was serious interest in a group of non-Winchester market stores beyond bringing the stores back to AholdDelhazie. Unfortunately the names of the interested parties are redacted. The only one of the interested parties I've been able to identify was Aldi being interested in opening in part of the Shop N Save in Purcellville, VA. There are several articles in the Loudoun Times that discuss Aldi's interest and ultimately pulling out of the project. One could surmise that SuperValu marketed the other stores as vigorously as those covered in the document. Seeing the other interested parties for the stores covered in the sale request might gives us some insight as to who might have been interested in the Winchester market. The sale document does note that SuperValu was feeling it from all sides - Wal-Mart, discounters and standard grocers (aka Giant). Maybe this was the real reason that no one else took a shot at the Winchester market. If an established food retailer and distributor like SuperValu was getting nailed by Wal-Mart and the discounters primarily what space is there for another traditional operator? I think it goes back to what others have suggested is that it needs to be someone coming to the market to respond to a different demographic than the traditional Winchester resident. Winchester has a good amount of people who have moved from the DC area for cheaper housing. Maybe as someone else suggested that the crack in the market needs to come from someone like Harris-Teeter or Wegmans that brings something different than what is already there and isn't trying to slice out a part of the Winchester grocery pie that is already dominated by Giant, the discounters and Wal-Mart.
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