Crucial times for Shoppers

Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. No non-grocery posts.
Bradford011
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by Bradford011 »

I for one adored Shoppers Food's doughnuts, a good value for the price. If someone brought doughnuts to work odds were good they were from Shoppers.

At first Shoppers carried a lot of off-brands including Big Valu Corn Chips which were just as good as the name brand and a lot cheaper.

It was later when the big companies forced Shoppers to stop carrying the off brands and only carry name brands that prices were no longer in serious competition with Giant and Safeway. So it wasn't worth the drive to the north side of town where Shoppers was but much easier and no more expensive just to walk to Safeway (less than 2 minutes from my door to theirs) on the south side of town.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by mjhale »

TW-Upstate NY wrote: December 21st, 2021, 2:22 pm Spent some time in Va. back in SFW's heyday and found them to be sort of an enigma. While their name could imply deep discount, I really didn't see that. Their pricing wasn't especially high but nothing they offered would really bring someone in vs. another chain. Honestly, what did/do they stand for?
Shoppers was the primary grocery store for me when I first moved out on my own in the late 1990s. I wasn't making a lot of money. Shoppers pricing at the time was better than Giant and a lot better than Safeway in the area that I lived. Buying the loss leader sales at Giant and Safeway plus "staple" type items at Shoppers is what kept me going in those early days. Quality at Shoppers, especially in produce and meat, was always a bit iffy so I would supplement at Giant if needed. As I earned more money I "graduated" to shopping at Giant which is where my family had always shopped when I was growing up.

Had the DC area stayed a four store race between Giant and Safeway being dominant and Shoppers as the lower priced option with Magruders filling in where they had locations, I think Shoppers could have retained their lower priced image. Add in the donuts (which I like a lot too) and their hot bar and other prepared foods, Shoppers could have retained what they had grown to during their heyday. However, when out of town competitors started opening in the DC area, Walmart added grocery and the deep discounters moved in SuperValu felt that they wanted Shoppers to compete in the great mid-class where Giant and Safeway exist. Pricing went up and Shoppers lost any image of being a better priced option that they had before. Washington is a transient area but there are enough people who have been here a long time to get the perception that Shoppers lost its image. People went to other grocers whether mid-priced, high end, deep discount or ethnic. Shoppers never regained a reason to keep coming back except maybe the donuts for some. But those donuts aren't enough in my mind to make Shoppers a regular stop. This is especially true when Giant and Safeway run better stores, there are multiple true low priced options and the high end is filled out too. Shoppers got lost in the middle and never made it back out again.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by mjhale »

buckguy wrote: December 21st, 2021, 3:57 pm They lived up to the name in the 90s. The stores were a hodgepodge of castoffs with a few purpose built stores. They had two stores almost across the street from each other in Langley Park in shabby looking castoffs---one looked like a pylon Safeway.
You are so right about Shoppers being in cast off locations from others. I shopped quite a bit at the Lincolnia Shoppers which was an old Maria Safeway just west of I-395 on Little River Turnpike. The store was old, broken down and not the cleanest. The refrigeration looked like it was original from when Safeway built the place. The other Shoppers I'd go to was in Annandale next to Kmart. This was an old Grand Union that probably hadn't changed much since Grand Union closed. Small, cramped, limited selection. But as I said in another post in this thread I wasn't making much money so Shoppers fit the budget back then. I appreciate Shoppers for that. At the same time I am thankful that I have been able to advance to the point where I can shop at a mid or upper tier grocery store.

I do miss those old cast off stores though. There was a certain "feeling" about being in a store that you knew was shoe horned and adapted to the space. Maybe I just enjoyed the creativity of it all and the "organic" nature of those store designs. I was kind of reminded of this when I was in Fresh World in Springfield, VA this past weekend. They had aisle markers from Giant-PA, register lights from Shoppers and wall lettering from the Safeway Marketplace interior. I'd love to poke around at a reseller of old grocery interior decor items. Might be fun to find some oddball stuff.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by buckguy »

Losing their niche (willingly) was a big part of their ultimate decline. They would have had to compete with Aldi, but Aldi enters markets slowly and good management could have figured out how to make sure they had a strategy for that. Their ability to target families and to have items you wouldn't expect at a discounter might have worked in that way, esp. if they upgraded the perishables. I haven't been to a PriceRite, but I'd imagine they are something like that.

DC isn't transient in the same way as, say, Atlanta which despite its entrepreneurial image is lacking in iconic local retail (restaurants are a somewhat different story in part because it doesn't take much imagination to stand out there). A lot of people who come to the DC area stay and others come back after an assignment elsewhere in the military, commissioned corps, state dept, govt contractors, etc., so there are "local institutions" here and people look fondly on them.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill »

buckguy wrote: December 22nd, 2021, 7:20 am Losing their niche (willingly) was a big part of their ultimate decline. They would have had to compete with Aldi, but Aldi enters markets slowly and good management could have figured out how to make sure they had a strategy for that. Their ability to target families and to have items you wouldn't expect at a discounter might have worked in that way, esp. if they upgraded the perishables. I haven't been to a PriceRite, but I'd imagine they are something like that.

DC isn't transient in the same way as, say, Atlanta which despite its entrepreneurial image is lacking in iconic local retail (restaurants are a somewhat different story in part because it doesn't take much imagination to stand out there). A lot of people who come to the DC area stay and others come back after an assignment elsewhere in the military, commissioned corps, state dept, govt contractors, etc., so there are "local institutions" here and people look fondly on them.
Shoppers offered more product and larger stores than any deep discounter, especially when they tried the Shoppers Club concept (~60k sq. ft.), which sets them apart.

As for donuts, sometimes the surface melded nicely into the stuffing and made it enjoyable to eat, other times not. Perhaps it was better in the day.
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