HATFIELD, Pa. — A new sustainable refrigeration system at a ShopRite store here shares the spotlight with well-merchandised perishables, emphasizing the owners' commitment to environmental stewardship.
Members of this community place a high value on local and organic foods and on respecting the environment, local sources said. So, the owners of the ShopRite store keep an eye out for ways to be eco-friendly.
“I think when you're near a farming area, people are just more environmentally aware,” store operations director Jim Madanci told SN.
Joe and Mary Miller, owners of KTM Supermarkets — the company that operates this ShopRite store and another a few miles away — made sustainability a priority in everything from the products to be sourced to the construction of the store itself, which just opened in October.
The fact that the 67,000-plus-square-foot store was built from the ground up made it easier to put in all the systems the owners wanted from the very beginning, Madanci said.
Pennsylvania-based AMF Sales & Associates and Conyers, Ga.-based Hill Phoenix worked with KTM to design refrigerated cases that would present products well, but also would meet the Environmental Protection Agency's GreenChill Gold standards for sustainable refrigeration.
“We have some similar cases [with sustainable refrigeration] in our store in West Chester, Pa.,” Madanci said, “but this is the first time we've worked this closely with Hill Phoenix.”
The system, which uses carbon dioxide and glycol, is virtually leakproof, Madanci pointed out. And even if there were a leak, it wouldn't be necessary to take cases apart to fix it.
Not only that, but it's safer and more cost effective than traditional DX refrigeration, according to the supplier. Madanci explained that his father-in-law, Joe Miller, who is president of KTM Supermarkets, approached Hill Phoenix after doing extensive research.
“They have everything meshed as far as a refrigeration system goes and we wanted the community to know that we're environmentally conscious. We may not change the world but we're doing a tiny little piece.”
Madanci said most communities do not welcome new construction, but the impact here was softened by making everybody aware of the measures the store owners are taking to be environmentally conscious.
“We have signs all over the place that tell customers what we're doing, that we're cooling with an alternative system that protects both the environment and the products in the display cases. Customers see those signs and they're giving us positive feedback. That's important, I think.”
Madanci is particularly pleased with the looks of the merchandising cases. Going to an alternative system didn't take away from design or flexibility, he said.
“There are more options now in design” than there were a few years ago.
“It's like when the first Model A Ford came out. You could only get it in black.” Now, in alternatively cooled cases, there are a lot more options and flexibility.
In this small town surrounded by farmland, the ShopRite store, situated right off the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, lies across the road from Lansdale, Pa., and is surrounded by serious competition, including the likes of Costco, Acme, Giant of Carlisle, Weis and Redner's.
“But we're different. Our company is family owned and is a part of Wakefern. None of this could have happened without Joe and Mary Miller and the Wakefern corporation,” Madanci said.
Henry Pellerin, director of marketing programs for Hill Phoenix, said that a few years ago, retailers wanted to be green just for the sake of saying they were green, but now, many retailers are expecting more from refrigerated cases featuring green technology. “They want it all. Sustainable, energy-saving, safe, products protected and cost-effective.”
For example, the display cases KTM chose do not use forced air, and there's no mist, which could introduce bacteria.