PITTSBURGH — Giant Eagle confirmed plans late last month to open a prototype Giant Eagle Express store that will combine food, fuel and pharmacy in a 13,000-square-foot space, plus the area for fuel pumps.
Replacing a relatively small Giant Eagle supermarket in the Harmar Township area in eastern Pittsburgh, the new format is expected to open this summer, said spokesman Dan Donovan. The retailer is still in the planning and approval process for the store, he said. A number of larger Giant Eagle supermarkets are located within a 5-mile radius.
The new convenience-oriented format will have some departments and services that aren't a part of the existing Harmar Giant Eagle supermarket, said Donovan.
“New features at the proposed site may include a drive-through pharmacy, on-site GetGo fuel and convenience store location, and full-service bakery and prepared foods departments,” he said.
Given the new format's size, full-service pharmacy and drive-through window, some local industry observers have compared it to a drug store chain, putting Giant Eagle in a position to compete with the likes of Walgreens and Rite Aid.
However, the comparison of Giant Eagle Express to a drug store is not one Giant Eagle is making, Donovan said. “We see the concept as being able to accommodate a consumer's weekly supermarket shopping needs as well as quick fill-in trips.”
“In the Pittsburgh area, there is a huge pent-up demand for smaller-footprint groceries that could fit into more urban environments,” said Ed Shriver, managing partner with Strada Architecture, Pittsburgh, whose company is designing the Harmar prototype. For example, there is no grocery store currently in Pittsburgh's downtown area, and thus is constraining the residential market in that area, he said.
“The fact that you can apply the Giant Eagle Express format in an urban area like a downtown or a Main Street in a community, means it has a lot of potential,” Shriver noted.
The company will evaluate using kiosks for photo and video, he added. Some of the company's larger GetGo convenience stores also have a seating area with wireless Internet service, but Donovan said it is too early to know if that will be part of the prototype.
Giant Eagle has plans for other such units, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times, but the retailer would not confirm this.