Bottom Dollar Food

Inquirer Writer Asks About Genuardi’s & Wegmans . . . Bottom Dollar Food Opens Today . . . Wonder if There’s a Connection

Some people are going to start claiming that I have a fetish for grocery stores but I am fascinated by the closing and opening of supermarkets . . . particularly with today’s economy.  

Yesterday, a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer contacted me in regards to the closing of Genuardi’s and my fascination with Wegmans.  She is writing an article for the Sunday edition of the newspaper and had tracked me down through Community Matters, having read my posts on Genuardi’s and Wegmans.  We had an interesting conversation and I will be curious to see how much of our discussion ultimately ends up in Sunday’s article.  The writer asked a variety of questions, including why I thought that Genuardi’s had failed.  I gave a degree of credit on that topic to the Safeway people.  In my opinion, the store was never maintained properly nor updated.  (Chesterbrook residents will be pleased that the focus of the article will not be on whether the closing of the Genuardi’s will affect real estate values).

I wonder if the Inquirer’s article on supermarkets has a connection to the opening today of the discount supermarket, Bottom Dollar Food, this morning in King of Prussia.  When I called to verify that the store had opened and find out where it was located, a very enthusiastic customer service representative greeted me.  She didn’t know exactly where on Rt. 202 it was located, stating that she was from Virginia and had moved with Bottom Dollar to King of Prussia.  I think that we figured it was on the right side of 202 North – she says that there is a Petco and Staples in the shopping center with Bottom Dollar Food.

The president of Bottom Dollar Food, Meg Ham, explains the concept of her discount supermarket saying,  “We call ourselves a soft discount chain and what that means is that we’re discount, but with a full shop experience and we offer national brands as well as private brands, which is a little bit different and we have full shop, which includes fresh departments.”

The store cites examples of savings – they sell Breyers Ice Cream for $3.38 but their own “Hannaford” brand is $2.68 and a “Smart Option” bargain brand is $1.98.  Another example – You can buy Charmin bath tissue for $2.85, Bottom Dollar Food’s “Home 360” brand for $2.50, or the “Smart Option” for $.98 for four rolls.

Bottom Dollar has some interesting ways to cut waste and save energy.  They keep the fresh produce in a giant walk-in cooler section which gives it a longer shelf life.  Since they are not throwing away as much spoiled produce, they can keep the produce prices lower (and hope to undercut the competition).  The store is utilizing doors on the dairy cases to keep cold air in and reduce energy usage. The King of Prussia store has 19,000 square-feet and  will offer more than 6,800 items.

In addition to bargain grocery shopping, the Bottom Dollar Food chain claims that each store will require the hiring of 30-35 employees.  (This is interesting, considering that Wegmans claimed to have hired 500 people with their store’s opening). The King of Prussia store is the first of 15-20 Bottom Dollar Food stores scheduled for the Philadelphia area.

As part of the grand opening festivities, Bottom Dollar Food donated $10,000 to the Philabundance Food Bank, and donated $500 to the Upper Merion Township Police Department and Fire Department.  In addition, $500 donations were made to the Upper Merion Township Emergency Fund and Lafayette Ambulance and Rescue Squad.

Wonder what it would take for Bottom Dollar Food to get interested in the Genuardi’s site in Chesterbrook?  It will be curious to see if Bottom Dollar Food gets mentioned in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer article on local supermarkets.  I’m also curious to see if Community Matters gets a mention in the article . . . my guess, probably not.

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Discount Grocery Store ‘Bottom Dollar Food’ Coming to Philadelphia Area

In catching up on some of the local business news, I was reading about the local grocery market and was interested to read about a new grocery chain coming to the area, Bottom Dollar Food.

We know that Wegmans next step on their expansion plan is King of Prussia (I think the old golf course off Swedesford, correct?) so I was curious if our area would be getting one of these discount grocery stores.  Bottom Dollar Food is a discount grocer that’s part of the Food Lion store chain and has said that it will open 21 stores in Philadelphia and surrounding areas, creating 600 jobs.  A friend recently visited our new Wegmans and asked management how many employees in that location — yes, 600. 

This is a significant expansion for the Salisbury, N.C.-based Bottom Dollar Food, which has 28 stores in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. I did a bit of research on the company – they opened their first store in 2005, 5 years ago!   They seemed to have discovered a niche market-place by keeping their stores very simple in design.  One of the ways they are able to drive the prices down to bargain-basement level is by removing the fancy, expensive displays.  Interesting concept given Wegmans over-the-top approach!  They keep the isles wide, displays simple and have a color-coding system showing the various levels of mark-downs.  Special ‘bargain’ areas in the stores are indicated with color-coded signage.  Kind of reminds me of the Syms approach — you read the price tag and the date determines the price.  The longer the item remains at Syms, the lower the price.

Bottom Dollar Food will open their first Philadelphia area store in the fall.  The president of the Bottom Dollar Food Meg Ham, reports that  “Bottom Dollar Food has great potential in the market as we believe it is underserved in the soft-discount grocer arena”.  Interesting.

However, the most interesting point of the article was the list of new store locations, including  197 E. Dekalb Pike, Upper Merion (King of Prussia).  Short of driving up 202 north and looking for the address, I’m wondering if that is the Genuardi’s store on 202?  I looked at all the stores on the list and unfortunately a Chesterbrook location was not on the list.  But that poses an interesting question, would people rather see an empty anchor store in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center as opposed to some kind of discount store?  Comments . . .

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