Bottom Dollar

Tredyffrin: Open for Business . . . and Closed

The economy is taking its toll on businesses across America and unfortunately, locally we are not immune.  There is such joy when we see signs of growth and development in the area retail and restaurant market but a sense of sadness when we see the closed signs.  It is particularly tough if you know the owner and developed a relationship with one of these entrepreneurs who dared take the journey in spite of the economic warning signs.

Such is the case for me with Jake’s Frozen Custard in the Paoli Village Shoppes and owner Missy Shaw.  With enthusiasm and Midwestern charm, Missy opened Jake’s 10 months ago and this week a ‘closed’ sign hangs on the door.  Missy’s smile and good humor was contagious . . . her spirit (and her frozen custard) will be missed! 

If Jake’s closing has you looking for respite from the summer sun, remember other local favorites Whirled Peace and Rita’s Water Ice in Paoli and Handel’s Ice Cream in Berwyn.

Another Paoli business that opened with fanfare last year but recently closed it doors  — Doggie Style, a boutique-type pet supply shop in the Paoli Shopping Center . . . don’t know if it saw it’s first anniversary.

However, there are some openings in Paoli to report – Shoppe Flare, specializing in gifts and monogrammed items, opened on Lancaster Avenue across from the Paoli Village Shoppes.  Re-Max Realty on Lancaster Avenue is now sharing space with a new Dunkin’ Donuts store. The newly opened store with a drive-through window is only a couple of blocks from the existing Dunking Donuts.  According to the manager of the new store, the same person owns the two locations. Until the lease runs out on the old store across from the train station next year, both locations will be open.

If you have driven down Rt. 252 in Devon lately, you will notice much activity in the Valley Fair shopping center.  The construction on the new McKenzie’s microbrewery is well underway.  Retrofitting the old Charlie Brown’s restaurant, McKenzie’s is planning a September opening — we’ll have to wait and see if they meet their planned timeline.  In the same shopping center, the new Mealey’s furniture store is also moving forward in their construction.

The long empty box store that housed Linens & Things in Devon may have a new tenant.  The interior of the store has recently been gutted and new checkout counters installed . . . no more specifics, although a hopeful reader suggested maybe a Bottom Dollar grocery store.  Speaking of the Bottom Dollar grocery store chain, remember for a while the Chesterbrook residents thought that Bottom Dollar was headed for the empty Genuardi’s space.  Although the Bottom Dollar deal fell through other rumored tenants have surfaced, including a farmer’s market and recently a Movie Tavern.  A fun concept with a full bar and food menu (plus movies) this idea for the Genuardi’s space is also ‘dead on arrival’.  Apparently, the prospective Movie Tavern developer did not think that Chesterbrook shopping center provided sufficient visibility.  (If you are interested, a Movie Tavern recently opened to rave reviews in Collegeville).

There are new rumors swirling for the old Duffy’s catering property in Daylesford.  If you recall, a controversial high-density mixed use development plan by developer ARC Wheeler failed to win public support in 2007 and the property has remained vacant and undeveloped.  Apparently, there is new discussion for the 13-acre site – nothing firm yet but I have heard assisted living or retirement center development plans.

As of last month, the Whole Foods in Devon is now selling beer for take-out and in their new Mile Post Pub.  Looks like a new Starbucks location for Devon . . . Township planning commissioners reviewed a sketch plan for the construction of a Starbucks and drive-thru in the Devon Village Shopping Center at last week’s planning commission meeting.

A different kind of ‘closing’ occurred in Mt. Pleasant on July 21.  Ruled accidental by Tredyffrin police, a fire totally destroyed the playground equipment at Mazie Hall Park.  An early estimate of $60,000 in damage, the township playground is insured.  Looking ahead to a timeline for repairs and a new ‘opening’ for the local residents, a meeting was held last night with township staff, supervisors and Mt. Pleasant representatives.  Sean Moir, chair of Parks and Recreation attended the meeting and provided the following update from the meeting:

There was a meeting tonight between township officials and Mt. Pleasant community leaders to discuss the Mazie B. Hall tot lot fire. Paul Olson, Michelle Kichline, Mimi Gleason, Dean Wilkins, and myself were representing the township.

The township has filed an insurance claim . . . The Park Board has been asked to come up with replacement options for the community. Once the options have been compiled, they will be presented to the community and we will try to provide the best affordable solution.

It’s hard to predict the timing since we don’t know when the insurance company will get back to us.

Here’s hoping that the insurance company can move quickly to settle the case and get the playground at Mazie Hall Park ‘open for business’.

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Be Careful What You Wish For . . . Bottom Dollar Food Coming to Chesterbrook

Back on July 30, I wrote the following article about the Bottom Dollar Food grocery store chain coming to the Philadelphia area and opening a store in King of Prussia.  In the article, Discount Grocery Store ‘Bottom Dollar Food’ Coming to Philadelphia Area. I commented on the differences between the newly opened Wegmans vs the ‘no-frills’ discount grocery chain, Bottom Dollar. 

Wegmans opening this summer, fell on the heels of the closing of Genuardi’s in Chesterbrook.  There are other empty stores in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center and those that have remained since Genuardi’s closing have struggled.  I heard that since the closing of Genuardi’s that the Hair Cuttery is loosing an average of $600/wk in revenue.  The emptiness is particularly noticeable at lunchtime. Many in the community have speculated and wondered as to the future of the real estate.

We don’t have to speculate any longer.  Today, I received news that Bottom Dollar Food has signed a 5-year lease with Centro Properties and will open in the old Genuardi’s location. (Not sure of the opening date).  When reviewing the location plans for Chesterbrook’s Bottom Dollar, I noted they will subdivide the Genuardi’s space.  Originally, Genuardi’s had approx. 38,500 sq. ft. of space but Bottom Dollar is only leasing 26,000 sq. ft leaving a space of 12,500 sq. ft. (next to Fitness Together) still available.  The original entry of Genuardi’s is now in the ‘available space’, suggesting that Bottom Dollar will move their entry location.

In the last paragraph of my July 30th post, I asked the question, ” . . .  would people rather see an empty anchor store in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center as opposed to some kind of discount store?”   And here we are 3 months later, with Bottom Dollar discount food chain coming to Chesterbrook!

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?

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