LANCASTER, Pa. — Targeting shoppers who eschew their local supermarket for fill-in shopping trips and “food for now” solutions, Giant of Carlisle last week debuted a new convenience format here called Giant to Go.
The 4,222-square-foot store intends to draw on the strengths of its parent — including its credibility with fresh food and its reputation for value — within a format based in traditional convenience-store offering. At a pre-opening event attended by SN last week (click here for a photo gallery), Giant officials said they have high expectations for the format as a means to capture more kinds of shopping trips and eventually to become a growth vehicle for the 149-store chain.
“In the U.S. they say bigger is better,” noted Sander van der Laan, Giant's chief executive officer, who arrived last year from the chain's Dutch parent company, Ahold. “But after a lot of years of building bigger it is about time we developed something small.”
The store features approximately 3,100 SKUs — about average for convenience stores of its size — although Giant's offerings lean more toward fresh foods and dinner offerings than other c-stores, according to Jodie Dalbert, Giant's senior vice president of perishables, who led an internal team that spent more than a year developing the concept.
Visitors entering the store immediately encounter a kidney-shaped island displaying fresh salads, packaged sandwiches and other foods to go. Behind that, a wall showcases fresh meats and side dishes; fresh fruits; and more salads and vegetables. “We really want to focus on fresh,” Dalbert said.
The center island divides the store between traditional convenience-store offerings to the left — snack foods, hot dog rollers, fresh coffee and fountain drinks — and aisles of more traditional grocery and nonfood convenience products to the right. Dalbert described the separation as “food for now” and “food for later.”
Whereas the traditional convenience store gears food offerings toward breakfast and lunch, Giant expects to gain an advantage over competitors with its dinner choices, Dalbert said. Several of the new store's features support that.
For example, an endcap facing the entrance promotes a “dinner for four” for $9.99 for customers using their Giant BonusCard. The offering includes a box of pasta and a jar of pasta sauce — both Giant's house brands — along with a Dole-packaged Caesar salad, a package of ground beef and a loaf of fresh bread.
The bread — along with cookies and other items — are baked fresh in the store. To generate buzz as an evening destination, the store offers a “Fresh@5” guarantee that loaves will be available fresh at 5 p.m., or the next one is free.
Dalbert said plans call for Giant to Go to change the “dinner for four” offerings every two weeks. Because Giant to Go is positioned against convenience stores, prices vary by item as compared to Giant's grocery store, Dalbert explained. Cigarettes and coffee, for instance, are cheaper.
Giant to Go uses direct-store delivery for most of its shelf items but will cart fresh selections — including sandwiches, packaged meats and produce — from its nearest grocery store three miles away.
Discount offers including gasoline discounts are available to shoppers through the Giant BonusCard.