Pattye Benson

Community Matters

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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  1. I cannot help but think that a discount grocery store would be even worse for local property values than no store at all. Maybe Paul Drucker can help attract some more million dollar attention like he did with the Paoli train station.

  2. No comment on the political option, but I think that the demographics of Chesterbrook don’t particularly suit a store of that kind — they would need more volume than the Chesterbrook site offers (no one sees that site unless they live there or know it’s there). The 202 site in K of P has a lot of right-turn access from 202 and Henderson road, and that’s usually what developers look for. Of course, until they have market penetration, they typically cannot justify much advertising — so in the meantime, Costco / Sams Club/BJs offer similar set-ups…without a membership fee.
    Fact is Genuardis was perfect for it when it all opened — as it was “new” to this area and offered cachet. Trader Joes is about the only option I can think of — and the site it’s in is better for now (rent options?)

  3. ALDI would seem to follow the Bottom Dollar model — there are 20 of them within 30 miles of Berwyn, but none any closer than Norristown or Pottstown. Whole Foods would be a great choice — as would something like Yangs. Here’s hoping the center’s developer is aggressively pursuing a tenant, because it’s going to take some serious incentives to move someone into a place so off the beaten path now that Wegmans is open and the newer Wegmans is coming. Remember Giant near Barnes and Noble, where Linens n Things was — a beautiful store — just not needed.

  4. Idea for Wegmans… how about a food stamp depot, since more Americans are on foodstamps than ever before.. did I hear 48 million? And with Mrs. Pelosi stating her desire to stimulate the economy by increasing food stamps, maybe this is the wave of the future. Wonder what Drucker and Kampf would say about this.. A government building in the heart of Chesterbrook might be considered blight..nimby…

    1. I think every store does. Even Wawa.
      Next time you swipe your ATM/Credit card at the register, look for the ‘EBT’ button.

  5. Just found your article, Pattye. Dunno about any connection — rumor is that Acme in KoP on 202 will be closing. Haven’t heard about Genuardi’s on S. Henderson Rd. though. The KoP Wegmans is proceeding (finally), slated to open summer 2012. This is right across the road to Walmart which has a grocery section, though not as extensive as Trooper Walmart, which competes with Giant, also in Trooper.

    Will be interesting to see the competition between Wegmans, Bottom Dollar, Genuardi’s, and Walmart in KoP.

  6. All Genuardi locations are now secretly being marketed to other retailers. Mr.Donald Ciotti, who is the top honcho at Bottom Dollar, is another Genuardi refugee executive.

  7. All A&P locations (Pathmark,Superfresh and food basics) are now secretly being marketed to other retailers. Mr. Samuel Martin, who is the top honcho at A&P, is another Burkle refugee executive.

  8. Hey, you know why Bottom Dollar is so cheap, they don’t look after it’s employee. You know Bottom Dollar foods emploee pays the highest health care preium around, they pay more, the Giant, Wegamans, Auldi, Weis, Acme* and Shop rite* (* note they are union shop…unlike the others). I have all the facts here, and will be demanding fairness for it emploee.

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