The newest ShopRite in Wilmington, Del., has more than its share of firsts.
It is the first new store opened by the Kenny Family ShopRites of Delaware since the Kennys acquired the company in 1995. But the 70,000-square-foot store also includes many “firsts” for the state of Delaware — the first supermarket with rooftop parking and the first with a “cartveyor” moving-stair system to transport shoppers and their groceries to the upper level, in addition to having an elevator.
It also is the largest supermarket ever to open in the city, and has the largest meat department of any supermarket in Delaware, according to Chris Kenny, chief financial officer and general counsel for the company.
The store, which opened Dec. 27, is the fourth operated by the Kenny Family ShopRites of Delaware, a member of the Wakefern cooperative.
“Other stores average around 55,000 square feet, so this is 15,000 square feet bigger than any other store we have currently,” Kenny told SN.
The company's three other locations, all in Delaware, are in Newark, Stanton, and on Concord Pike in Wilmington.
The new store — which Kenny described as the first new supermarket in Wilmington in 20 years — is located in the Riverfront area, close to both high- and low-income residential neighborhoods and just a short walk from downtown offices.
“This area has a full spectrum, from $10,000 annual earnings to $200,000-plus, in terms of demographics,” Kenny explained.
The company is relocating its headquarters to the mezzanine level above the new store, he said. The headquarters is currently located at the Stanton store.
“We wanted to move into the city and be a part of the community, and be a part of the new store, since we have invested so heavily in it,” he said.
In addition to the new Wilmington location, the company also has secured a site for a fifth store, in the nearby town of Bear, Del., scheduled to begin construction by the end of the year.
The new ShopRite in Wilmington includes an expanded array of features, some of which the chain has never operated in its other stores.
Given its proximity to downtown office workers, Kenny said the store is seeking to attract a lunch business. It has ramped up the foodservice offering for the location, with a 40-seat, indoor-outdoor dining area that includes wi-fi access.
Food offerings include a hot bar and a cold bar, store-baked pizza and “a full line of subs, salads and sandwiches,” Kenny said.
It has a full-service bakery, with both scratch and par-baked items, and a full catering operation.
The store employs nearly 200 workers.
The expanded foodservice offerings are just one of the ways the store seeks to cater to the local area.
It also offers a selection of bulk products at discount prices that Kenny said are designed to appeal not only to local businesses as an alternative to the club stores in the area, but also to the lower-income residents in the nearby neighborhood of Southbridge, a largely African American community just a short distance from the $1 million condos that the store also caters to.
“We have restaurant-size No. 10 cans of food that we provide at our cost — so you can get cans of spaghetti sauce for about $3.40, or about 50 cents a pound,” Kenny said. “It's for bulk shoppers, low-income shoppers, people suffering from the effects of the economy, plus people that are underemployed, like those in the area.
“Plus, there's competition from Coscto and BJ's in the area,” he added. “We're looking to be competitive against the big-box stores.”
Another feature the store offers for the low-income consumers in the area is its courtesy counter for financial services, where customers can make utility payments, conduct money transfers, purchase money orders, pay bills and buy lottery tickets, among other services. It is one of two large courtesy counters at the store.
“It's a first for us, but other ShopRites have done it in inner-city stores,” Kenny said. “We thought it would be a good idea to duplicate that here because of the diverse market.”
Kenny explained that the company's management looked at several other ShopRites in inner-city locations before deciding what features to offer in its Wilmington store.
The store also includes several flourishes that cater to more affluent customers, he said, such as the LiveRight section offering a range of organics, healthy foods and foods catering to specific dietary needs.
In addition, the store features many “green” energy-saving features, such as lighting timers to reduce power use during peak periods.
Kenny describes the store's meat selection, which takes up most of one wall of the supermarket, as perhaps the most significant of the store's features.
“It's a huge amount of linear feet for meat,” he said.
Other offerings include a drive-up pharmacy, which is the first drive-up for the Kenny Family stores, although not the first pharmacy.
It also is the second store in the company to offer online shopping — the company's Concord Pike location generates about 200-250 orders per week, Kenny said.
The company decided to make a statement with the new store that the Kenny Family ShopRites of Delaware was an integral part of the Wilmington community.
In a prepared release issued by the company at the opening of the store, the Kennys said they hoped the store would “demonstrate to other businesses that Wilmington can be a successful investment.”
The Kenny family supports several local charities, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, The Delaware Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and other organizations.
In addition, Chris Kenny's father, Bernie Kenny, the company's founder and chief executive officer, is the chairman of the board of directors for the Academy of Food Marketing at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He is also a member of the board of directors at Wakefern. Rich Kenny, director of government affairs, is on the board of directors for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. Chris Kenny is on the board of directors for the Delaware National Guard & Reserve Foundation and the Food Bank of Delaware.