Crucial times for Shoppers

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BatteryMill
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill »

storewanderer wrote: October 1st, 2022, 1:18 pm
BatteryMill wrote: October 1st, 2022, 12:19 pm

Prior to SuperValu stepping in, Shoppers was a warehouse grocery store (similar to WinCo or Redner's... a.k.a. Wegners). Along the lines of this format, Shoppers employed warehouse shelving and was able to stock pallets above the aisles. While I have seen some backrooms from that era, I can't imagine there was a ton of space for warehouse shelving there. I am sure that SFW had to figure out something once they became a conventional grocer, but I cannot tell what they did other than at stores like this. I also cannot tell what the salesfloor looks like there now as they seem to have carved out a sizable chunk of perishables,

As for Albertsons, I think that'd work for Cub but I'm not quite sure about Shoppers. I favored Kroger since there's less overlap between it and Harris Teeter.
I feel like when they closed the pharmacies in Shoppers, the ship sailed for selling them to a legitimate operator like Kroger.

I forget but wasn't Shoppers always a conventional around Baltimore but was a warehouse format in DC/VA? I went into a couple Shoppers that clearly had always been conventional (smaller stores, lower ceilings, small departments). I think those stores have since closed or sold.

UNFI's best path forward with these stores is to push volume as high as possible and run them breakeven to maintain the supply business. Not sure why they are remodeling anything but we will see how the remodels look.

Will also be interesting to see if they take back what few pieces are left of Farm Fresh. Guessing no on that.
I'm not sure how it would be a detriment to selling to Kroger, unless it is difficult to re-establish pharmacies. I'm pretty sure Ruler and F4L do just fine without.

Yes, as the bulk of Baltimore-area locations were conversions from the sister Metro brand, an upscale concept created by Basics/Food-a-rama. Of course, this is also when new Shoppers throughout the operating region were tailored to a conventional concept. Ceiling heights vary at some of the ex-Metros but I'm sure some of the Shoppers new-builds are about the same height as they've always been.

Certainly hope the new changes will spur on volumes. Maybe they could return to their roots and pilot a concept competing against Aldi and Lidl, for one location. As for the remodels, perhaps pre-remodel they were not really up to par with UNFI's current vision. Then again one of these stores has probably the most detailed SFW interior, and it's been about 13 years since the last makeover.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by mjhale »

Lets not forget that Supervalu had remodeled a few of the Shoppers locations before the sale to UNFI. The concept was called Shoppers Market. I visited the former Potomac Yards (Alexandria) location after it was remodeled into this format. The store was downsized in the remodel. Even so, the store was very, very nice. Upscale decor, more compact, more intimate feeling and dropping the warehousey feel of the store. This is the format that probably would have worked much better when Shoppers went conventional under Supervalu. Will from Baltimore has a couple of pictures of the remodeled store in his Flickr:



At this point it seems that Shoppers has pared itself back to the area that it has been strongest. That is PG County in the DC area and the greater Baltimore area. There are areas that Shoppers is in now that don't have a lot of grocery competition. Also those areas tend to be lower middle class and blue collar type neighborhoods. If UNFI could build a conventional store that draws from strong traditionals like Giant, Kroger or Publix - or just build more Shoppers Market stores - while keeping pricing lower than the average for the area they could have a winner. Maybe that would make the stores more attractive to another operator if UNFI really does want to offload them at some point.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill »

mjhale wrote: October 1st, 2022, 8:06 pm Lets not forget that Supervalu had remodeled a few of the Shoppers locations before the sale to UNFI. The concept was called Shoppers Market. I visited the former Potomac Yards (Alexandria) location after it was remodeled into this format. The store was downsized in the remodel. Even so, the store was very, very nice. Upscale decor, more compact, more intimate feeling and dropping the warehousey feel of the store. This is the format that probably would have worked much better when Shoppers went conventional under Supervalu. Will from Baltimore has a couple of pictures of the remodeled store in his Flickr:



At this point it seems that Shoppers has pared itself back to the area that it has been strongest. That is PG County in the DC area and the greater Baltimore area. There are areas that Shoppers is in now that don't have a lot of grocery competition. Also those areas tend to be lower middle class and blue collar type neighborhoods. If UNFI could build a conventional store that draws from strong traditionals like Giant, Kroger or Publix - or just build more Shoppers Market stores - while keeping pricing lower than the average for the area they could have a winner. Maybe that would make the stores more attractive to another operator if UNFI really does want to offload them at some point.
The Annapolis location was remodeled too; I find it quite interesting both were disposed of in the 2019 sale. I still think, though that going more discount or trying warehouse again would work more than being a lower-priced conventional.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by storewanderer »

I don't want to get too wrapped up in rumors or speculation, but I am also wondering here, we know there are these rumors there about something possibly going on with Albertsons/Ahold but it is not clear what. I am wondering if they are potentially working on divesting stores and if UNFI would end up taking on some divests around DC and expanding Shoppers further. Seems like a catch a falling knife idea with Publix coming into the market but with the current poor state of Safeway in the market maybe they wouldn't do any worse as Shoppers and they'd stay union operations.

Those remodels look too nice for Shoppers to me. Who is operating those remodeled stores now? 3801 Richmond Highway appears to be vacant? What a waste. Was that store something else before Shoppers?
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill »

storewanderer wrote: October 1st, 2022, 10:28 pm I don't want to get too wrapped up in rumors or speculation, but I am also wondering here, we know there are these rumors there about something possibly going on with Albertsons/Ahold but it is not clear what. I am wondering if they are potentially working on divesting stores and if UNFI would end up taking on some divests around DC and expanding Shoppers further. Seems like a catch a falling knife idea with Publix coming into the market but with the current poor state of Safeway in the market maybe they wouldn't do any worse as Shoppers and they'd stay union operations.

Those remodels look too nice for Shoppers to me. Who is operating those remodeled stores now? 3801 Richmond Highway appears to be vacant? What a waste. Was that store something else before Shoppers?
This would be nice to see, although I don't know what Giant, Food Lion, or Safeway sites they could possibly scoop, especially if Publix ever buys into any existing supermarkets. Perhaps Shoppers may try their luck beyond the immediate Baltimore/Washington areas.

That location in Alexandria is now going to none other than Amazon Fresh. It was built from the ground up as Shoppers back in the 1990s.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by storewanderer »

BatteryMill wrote: October 1st, 2022, 11:01 pm

This would be nice to see, although I don't know what Giant, Food Lion, or Safeway sites they could possibly scoop, especially if Publix ever buys into any existing supermarkets. Perhaps Shoppers may try their luck beyond the immediate Baltimore/Washington areas.

That location in Alexandria is now going to none other than Amazon Fresh. It was built from the ground up as Shoppers back in the 1990s.
Publix is very unlikely to buy any unionized stores as operating stores. I don't think Food Lion is running in the type of locations Publix would be looking for.

That is a very sad loss for that store in Alexandria. Unfortunate decision to close, it must have been too perimeter heavy for Shoppers, Shoppers isn't exactly a known destination for fresh departments beyond donuts and fried chicken, and Target having a fair amount of food in the same center likely didn't help.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by mjhale »

BatteryMill wrote: October 1st, 2022, 8:48 pm The Annapolis location was remodeled too; I find it quite interesting both were disposed of in the 2019 sale. I still think, though that going more discount or trying warehouse again would work more than being a lower-priced conventional.
Aldi and Lidl have the lock on deep discount. When people think warehouse they think Costco, BJs and Sam's. In Shoppers heyday none of those companies were in the DC/Baltimore area so the warehouse discount format worked. If one wants cheap food you have to go to Aldi, Lidl or Walmart and shop in that sort of environment. If you want a conventional store you are going to pay for it at Giant, Safeway or Harris Teeter. The store that doesn't exist is a discount conventional. Not everyone wants to endure Walmart or settle for limited selection to get lower pricing. Also with Shoppers currently in neighborhoods that would likely benefit from lower pricing it could be the strong format that they need to stay viable going forward.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by mjhale »

storewanderer wrote: October 2nd, 2022, 12:42 am Publix is very unlikely to buy any unionized stores as operating stores. I don't think Food Lion is running in the type of locations Publix would be looking for.

That is a very sad loss for that store in Alexandria. Unfortunate decision to close, it must have been too perimeter heavy for Shoppers, Shoppers isn't exactly a known destination for fresh departments beyond donuts and fried chicken, and Target having a fair amount of food in the same center likely didn't help.
Suppose that there was some sort of "synergy" (isn't that what Ahold and Delhaize called their merger?) between Albertsons and Ahold-Delhazie, the stores that would potentially be spun off in the DC/Baltimore area are 99 percent union stores. I'm looking at Giant and Safeway locations with this statement. There are a handful of Food Lion stores in the immediate DC area. While they are decent stores for what they are, none of them seem the size that Publix would be going after. Location wise a few of them are in middle/upper middle class areas that Publix seems to like. Aside from that Publix would be looking at divested Giant and Safeway locations which we know Publix will not do because of the union. When Ahold and Delhaize merged the initial plan outside of the immediate DC area was to spin off the Giant locations and keep Food Lion. Between community protests and union actions the decision was reversed especially in Southern Maryland and Fredericksburg. Also the Salisbury Giant location went to Acme who is also union. Your statement about UNFI possibly being a part of whatever is going on at Albertsons seems the more reasonable speculation at this point. Shoppers is a union operator so it would be a much easier divestiture from an operational standpoint. The problem is that Shoppers in its current form is not Giant or Safeway, nowhere close. Also UNFI was intent on dumping Shoppers and the other retail operations it got from Supervalu. Had the pandemic not happened, Shoppers would likely be sold and probably closed by now. If something is going on with Albertsons and UNFI were a beneficiary they would need to operate something on the level of the Shoppers Market concept to even have a chance at retaining customers from Giant and Safeway stores they could potentially inherit. Running a former Giant or Safeway as a current format Shoppers is going to result in a closed store. That isn't good for anyone. Unless Publix swoops and gets their "in" with castoffs of castoffs with closed former Giant and Safeway stores that ended up with UNFI.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by mjhale »

storewanderer wrote: October 2nd, 2022, 12:42 am That is a very sad loss for that store in Alexandria. Unfortunate decision to close, it must have been too perimeter heavy for Shoppers, Shoppers isn't exactly a known destination for fresh departments beyond donuts and fried chicken, and Target having a fair amount of food in the same center likely didn't help.
The Potomac Yards development where the Shoppers Market concept was located is very close to National Airport. The store was always popular with shift workers from the airport and people coming off flights looking for some quick food on the way home. The store was one of the few that was open 24 hours and then later than other Shoppers locations, I believe 1 AM instead of 11 PM. While Shoppers prepared foods are not on the level of Wegmans or Whole Foods this location had a lot of it even when Shoppers cut back at other locations. It seemed to sell well for the aforementioned reasons. Amazon Fresh is not a replacement for what Shoppers/Shoppers Market was. Harris Teeter is nearby but on the first floor of an apartment building. It isn't very visible from the street and the parking garage is a major pain. Giant and Aldi are much further down Route 1 closer to Alexandria City proper. Potomac Yards had a good combo of Target and Shoppers. Too bad it is gone - as you say a loss for the community. And more indication that Supervalu had no long term intention of running any retail operations.
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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by veteran+ »

mjhale wrote: October 1st, 2022, 8:06 pm Lets not forget that Supervalu had remodeled a few of the Shoppers locations before the sale to UNFI. The concept was called Shoppers Market. I visited the former Potomac Yards (Alexandria) location after it was remodeled into this format. The store was downsized in the remodel. Even so, the store was very, very nice. Upscale decor, more compact, more intimate feeling and dropping the warehousey feel of the store. This is the format that probably would have worked much better when Shoppers went conventional under Supervalu. Will from Baltimore has a couple of pictures of the remodeled store in his Flickr:



At this point it seems that Shoppers has pared itself back to the area that it has been strongest. That is PG County in the DC area and the greater Baltimore area. There are areas that Shoppers is in now that don't have a lot of grocery competition. Also those areas tend to be lower middle class and blue collar type neighborhoods. If UNFI could build a conventional store that draws from strong traditionals like Giant, Kroger or Publix - or just build more Shoppers Market stores - while keeping pricing lower than the average for the area they could have a winner. Maybe that would make the stores more attractive to another operator if UNFI really does want to offload them at some point.

Really nice upscale floors!
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