Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

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

Post by BatteryMill »

mjhale wrote: July 20th, 2021, 8:35 pm 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.
Wow! I actually didn't know those stores returned to Ahold Delhaize were requested by SuperValu, and not solely initiated by AD. Interesting move anyhow, if these stores wouldn't come too close to any existing Giant-MD/PA locations then it makes sense. I do wonder why Food Lion was not chosen to take back these locations, or why these stores didn't stay on board in the first place. About Chambersburg, that adds on to this discussion too, if those stores were not filled in with any other groceries. SuperValu sure has had an interesting racket going on, especially with them ending up keeping Cub and Shoppers on board for the time being.

I saw Aldi hadn't moved in to Purcellville, strange anomaly despite being hugely successful now. Also, I do have to wonder what would be the case for Front Royal and any other pockets that have not received a grocery replacement for Food Lion. If the chain that enters Winchester locates on a regional basis with only one site in the market (a la Wegmans or Whole Foods), what will be done about the smaller markets competition-wise?
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by Bradford011 »

Hello! Short-time lurker, first time poster.
BatteryMill wrote: July 20th, 2021, 10:07 pmI saw Aldi hadn't moved in to Purcellville, strange anomaly despite being hugely successful now. Also, I do have to wonder what would be the case for Front Royal and any other pockets that have not received a grocery replacement for Food Lion. If the chain that enters Winchester locates on a regional basis with only one site in the market (a la Wegmans or Whole Foods), what will be done about the smaller markets competition-wise?
I think the reason Aldi didn't lease half of the old Food Lion/Shop N Save in Purcellville was that they already had planned a store for Leesburg, this had been mentioned for a couple of years. That store finally opened last December and seems to be doing quite well. The Purcellville location is now a Dollar Tree, leaving only Giant and Harris-Teeter for local shopping, for other stores residents need to go to Leesburg or Berryville/Winchester.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by BatteryMill »

Bradford011 wrote: August 20th, 2021, 2:28 am Hello! Short-time lurker, first time poster.

I think the reason Aldi didn't lease half of the old Food Lion/Shop N Save in Purcellville was that they already had planned a store for Leesburg, this had been mentioned for a couple of years. That store finally opened last December and seems to be doing quite well. The Purcellville location is now a Dollar Tree, leaving only Giant and Harris-Teeter for local shopping, for other stores residents need to go to Leesburg or Berryville/Winchester.
I honestly think Aldi would have been able to fit in both towns, but I digress if they want to take expansion slowly and fit populations accordingly. Going back to my main point, Aldi is more of a chain cities like Front Royal, Stephens City etc. can share alongside Winchester than Wegmans or Whole Foods. Maybe someday Purcellville will see Aldi, Lidl or another chain join in the mix too as they suffered the same fate after the Ahold-Delhaize merger as the towns I've mentioned.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by Bradford011 »

BatteryMill wrote: August 23rd, 2021, 9:27 pmI honestly think Aldi would have been able to fit in both towns, but I digress if they want to take expansion slowly and fit populations accordingly. Going back to my main point, Aldi is more of a chain cities like Front Royal, Stephens City etc. can share alongside Winchester than Wegmans or Whole Foods. Maybe someday Purcellville will see Aldi, Lidl or another chain join in the mix too as they suffered the same fate after the Ahold-Delhaize merger as the towns I've mentioned.
You make a good point.

For over 30 years there's been plans to build a shopping center a bit further west in Round Hill. At various times names of possible grocery candidates have bounced around including Harris-Teeter (who as mentioned built in Purcellville) and Wegman's (who built in Leesburg). Aldi or Lidl are being mentioned now but I honesty don't think the shopping center will ever be built...
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by BatteryMill »

Bradford011 wrote: August 24th, 2021, 5:44 pm You make a good point.

For over 30 years there's been plans to build a shopping center a bit further west in Round Hill. At various times names of possible grocery candidates have bounced around including Harris-Teeter (who as mentioned built in Purcellville) and Wegman's (who built in Leesburg). Aldi or Lidl are being mentioned now but I honesty don't think the shopping center will ever be built...
I never knew that... where have these plans surfaced? I'm not sure Harris Teeter would be feasible considering they are already next door in Purcellville, and the population's just too small for Wegmans. Aldi, Lidl, Publix, and Safeway would be far more viable for example.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by Bradford011 »

TBH I have no idea if any actual building plans have ever been drawn up, the only real proof is a sign announcing the acreage for the shopping center on that corner that's been up for almost 30 years now.

I agree Harris-Teeter and Wegman's are just too big, Lidl gets my vote. There used to be a Safeway in Purcellville (for ages it was Purcellville's sole grocery store) but it closed when IIRC Food Lion came in, it then became an IGA until IIRC Harris-Teeter moved in and it too closed.

Publix would be interesting but as the only Northern VA location is in Stafford County (right now there are about 6 stores in Fredericksburg and 2 in Dumfries) I don't see that happening. An independent is possible, of course. But as I said I just don't see this shopping center ever getting built after all this time.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by mjhale »

Bradford011 wrote: August 25th, 2021, 6:16 pm TBH I have no idea if any actual building plans have ever been drawn up, the only real proof is a sign announcing the acreage for the shopping center on that corner that's been up for almost 30 years now.

I agree Harris-Teeter and Wegman's are just too big, Lidl gets my vote. There used to be a Safeway in Purcellville (for ages it was Purcellville's sole grocery store) but it closed when IIRC Food Lion came in, it then became an IGA until IIRC Harris-Teeter moved in and it too closed.

Publix would be interesting but as the only Northern VA location is in Stafford County (right now there are about 6 stores in Fredericksburg and 2 in Dumfries) I don't see that happening. An independent is possible, of course. But as I said I just don't see this shopping center ever getting built after all this time.
Given all of the development in Purcellville and Round Hill if another new shopping center was going to be built I'd think it would have already been constructed. Just like with the center where Harris Teeter is located now.

As for Publix, if they fit into the Giant/Safeway/Harris Teeter sector of the market, we already have saturation there. I think it would take one of the three of those to leave the DC market to give Publix their entry. There just isn't much space in the more affluent areas that I perceive that Publix would be looking at to build an average size modern grocery store. There was speculation on this board that Publix might be interested in some of the old Shoppers locations. Most of those went to Lidl and Giant. Of the three, Giant/Safeway/Harris Teeter, my feeling is that Safeway is weakest. High prices, inconsistent stores and a blah, dated feeling in the stores even with the recent decor swaps. If Albertsons ever wanted to bail on Safeway and focus on Acme, Publix would be good fit for a lot of the Safeway locations in the DC area. The only conflict is the union seeing as how Publix doesn't have one.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by mjhale »

BatteryMill wrote: July 20th, 2021, 10:07 pm Wow! I actually didn't know those stores returned to Ahold Delhaize were requested by SuperValu, and not solely initiated by AD. Interesting move anyhow, if these stores wouldn't come too close to any existing Giant-MD/PA locations then it makes sense. I do wonder why Food Lion was not chosen to take back these locations, or why these stores didn't stay on board in the first place. About Chambersburg, that adds on to this discussion too, if those stores were not filled in with any other groceries. SuperValu sure has had an interesting racket going on, especially with them ending up keeping Cub and Shoppers on board for the time being.
It seems that when SuperValu saw that no independents were going to pick up the stores and SuperValu wanted out of running the stores themselves something had to give. As was discussed in the sale request there was little to no competition in the areas where they were looking to sell stores back to Ahold. Also as you say the stores that would go back would not be near any Giant-PA (Martins) locations.

I have not been in the Berryville, VA store since it became a Martins. However I was in the Greencastle, PA Martins during its grand opening. From a layout and facilities standpoint the store is still a Food Lion. Ahold came in and hung up whatever the latest wall signs are for Giant-PA but left everything else as is. You feel like you are in a Food Lion not a Martins. It is really one of those cases where the store is on its third operator and it still feels like original operator's store. It reminds me of the Super G turned Stop and Shop locations in South Jersey that Ahold sold to Shop Rite. For about the first two to three years those store were operating as Shop Rite they still looked and felt like 1990s neon Giant-MD stores. It was actually kind of surreal being in South Jersey but entering a store that made you feel like you were in the DC area. Shop Rite finally remodeled the stores into their own designs. One has to wonder if Ahold is just running these stores it took back on the cheap to provide some grocery to the areas they are in or if Ahold will actually bring them up to par with the other Giant-PA/Martins locations.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by Bradford011 »

mjhale wrote: August 26th, 2021, 7:56 pmGiven all of the development in Purcellville and Round Hill if another new shopping center was going to be built I'd think it would have already been constructed. Just like with the center where Harris Teeter is located now.
This is my feeling as well, the land's been offered for over 30 years with no action. I think it's very unlikely it will ever be built, and if it is it's going to be at least another 5 to 10 years for there to be enough additional development to make construction profitable.

My guess is this land will just become more houses and maybe a gas station at some point...
mjhale wrote: August 26th, 2021, 7:56 pm[snip]As for Publix, if they fit into the Giant/Safeway/Harris Teeter sector of the market, we already have saturation there.
I must agree. Publix has only one store in the Metro Area (their latest store in Stafford, said county is now considered part of Northern VA) plus 6 in Fredericksburg and 2 in Dumfries. Given the location of their distribution centers it's unlikely they'll come further north unless the market permits it and another distribution center is built in the Fredericksburg/Falmouth area to service these stores.
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by BillyGr »

mjhale wrote: August 26th, 2021, 8:07 pm It seems that when SuperValu saw that no independents were going to pick up the stores and SuperValu wanted out of running the stores themselves something had to give. As was discussed in the sale request there was little to no competition in the areas where they were looking to sell stores back to Ahold. Also as you say the stores that would go back would not be near any Giant-PA (Martins) locations.

I have not been in the Berryville, VA store since it became a Martins. However I was in the Greencastle, PA Martins during its grand opening. From a layout and facilities standpoint the store is still a Food Lion. Ahold came in and hung up whatever the latest wall signs are for Giant-PA but left everything else as is. You feel like you are in a Food Lion not a Martins. It is really one of those cases where the store is on its third operator and it still feels like original operator's store. It reminds me of the Super G turned Stop and Shop locations in South Jersey that Ahold sold to Shop Rite. For about the first two to three years those store were operating as Shop Rite they still looked and felt like 1990s neon Giant-MD stores. It was actually kind of surreal being in South Jersey but entering a store that made you feel like you were in the DC area. Shop Rite finally remodeled the stores into their own designs. One has to wonder if Ahold is just running these stores it took back on the cheap to provide some grocery to the areas they are in or if Ahold will actually bring them up to par with the other Giant-PA/Martins locations.
Perhaps they wanted to try and see if these locations would be worth doing work on?

Acme did the same when they acquired a bunch of A&P stores at the time that chain went bankrupt.

After a couple years, they gave some a full remodeling, kept a few as is and closed others - apparently the first group did best, the middle group OK but not enough to warrant the spending and the last group not so well.

Sounds like (to some degree) that is also what the ShopRite operator (whomever it was down there) did, with running them as is for a time before the renovations. Of course with them it may also vary, as some operators have more stores and larger budgets than others do.
Last edited by BillyGr on August 28th, 2021, 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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