Pattye Benson

Community Matters

King of Prussia

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.

Altercation at King of Prussia Construction Site . . . Speculation of Ironworkers Local 401 Member Involvement; How Can This Violence Help?

There was a violent incident this week in the parking lot behind King of Prussia Mall that I found particularly disturbing. As I understand it, when a crew of 5 steelworkers (non-union workers) in 2 construction trucks arrived from Lebanon around 7 AM on Wednesday to begin work at the new Toy R Us store, their entry was blocked by members of the Ironworkers Local 401. Instead of forcing through the picket line, they decided to call the police and wait nearby in the mall parking area.

Two or three minutes later, a black Chevy sedan pulled up and 4 men jumped out swinging baseball bats, yelling and shouting. Three of the men ran away but the other 2 run to get in each of the trucks. The attackers shattered the trucks rear windows with the bats. The steelworks jumped out of the trucks and tried to defend themselves but were no match for the 4 assailants who beat them with the bats. Although the men who were attacked did not tell police their attackers were union workers, they believe that to be the case.

The general contractor for the project, Kane Builders of Glenside says that the subcontractors on the site are both union and non-union. The site preparation subcontractor is union, as is the framing subcontractor. The ironworkers and masonry subcontractors are both non-union.

A representative for Ironworkers Local 401 are denying their members had anything to do with the attack. Their attitude is just because we picket the job site does not mean that we had anything to do with the altercation. Upper Merion Police have made no arrests in the case.

This would not be the first time there has been a serious union incident in the King of Prussia – Valley Forge area. Back in 1972, there was another incident of construction-union violence. On June 5, in 1072 about 1,000 men, many wearing hard hats, swarmed the construction site for a hotel and theater complex (now the Valley Forge Convention Center and a hotel). The union members stormed the Valley Forge site, overrunning a fence and destroying $400,000 worth of equipment and materials. There were 16 union members convicted and 11 jailed in that union incident.

Here we are nearly 40 years later. Times are difficult . . . people are out-of-work and desperate . . . but what can possible by gained by this level of violence?

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