Viewpoints

Gaining Advantage With Urban Supermarket Retailing

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By David Merrefield
VP, Editorial Director

There’s a lengthy roster of supermarket operators — independents and chains alike — that have made adaptations to their dominant suburban model so they could fit a unit into an urban area.

And in most instances, urban retailing has rewarded those operators who take the trouble to find the urban-centric formula among considerations such as store size, product mix and operational styles.

Perhaps, though, a special first-mover advantage is due an operator who is a genuine pioneer in urban retailing — an operator who is the first one to enter an area that is severely understored, but which shows great promise. In a short time, that operator may garner kudos for being the catalyst that made further and speedy development of an urban location possible. After all, even gentrifying areas won’t continue on an upward trajectory for long if incoming residents have no food-shopping option.

Such was the situation that presented itself to A&P. That operator took a chance by opening a SuperFresh model of 11,000 square feet in a quickly developing area of Baltimore: the central business district. That area of Baltimore is now showing population growth even though most of the city is shedding residents. (See Page 17.)

The SuperFresh now positioned to contribute much to Baltimore’s downtown renaissance provides many of the features that characterize urban shopping, such as fresh and prepared foods, and high-end gourmet product. Moreover, it has a cafe with seating and wi-fi service. The cafe is intended to draw patronage from not only the surrounding population, but also from the large number of office workers that come into the area for several hours daily.

One developer remarked that it fell to A&P to develop a store in the burgeoning area because it was “the only supermarket to express interest in the project; others declined, professing not to understand urban markets.” Maybe so. A&P has a strong heritage of urban retailing and with its Food Emporium banner and others does so quite routinely.

GREEN STORE
Now let’s shift to another topic entirely, that of “green store.” In the Technology & Logistics section of this week’s SN, you’ll find the first of four special reports on “Green Store Solutions” planned for this year. The idea behind the reports is to highlight what’s possible and what’s being done at the store level to reduce energy costs and, at the same time, to make stores more ecologically compatible.

This week’s debut of the quarterly series offers an in-depth look at new refrigeration technology being tested by Food Lion and Sam’s Club. This is especially timely now that the global-warming debate is shifting from being less a matter of doubt to one of virtual inevitability: The equipment featured uses less of the refrigerant that has a high global-warming potential. Other content includes a news article on plastic bag recycling.

The “green store” series will greatly increase SN’s coverage of interrelated energy and environmental issues that have become so important to the industry and business in general. To underscore that importance, the quarterly “green store” report slated for April 9 will form the theme of that week’s entire issue, with contributions to the topic from each of SN’s sections.

Contributors

Liz Webber

Liz Webber is Engagement Director / Fresh Market Editor at Supermarket News. She covers fresh foods for the magazine and creates multimedia, blog posts and other content for the website. She joined...

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach has been with Supermarket News for more than 45 years — a span difficult for him to comprehend, having once been the youngest reporter on the staff. During that time he has...
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