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Regional Supermarkets Leave Lasting Impression

I was pleased to learn that Jane and Neil Golub of Price Chopper Supermarkets would be among the honorees at the Housewares Charity Foundation gala.

The Golubs and Price Chopper are household names where I come from: Schenectady, NY, one of the Tri Cities, along with Albany and Troy, that anchor New York’s Capital Region.  

I was born about a mile from Price Chopper’s current headquarters, and I witnessed as a child and adolescent the chain’s expansion throughout the region in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Grand Opening

The supermarket was an unlikely place to capture the imagination of a kid forced to tag along on mom’s weekly grocery visits. Then Price Chopper opened a new flagship store in Schenectady in the mid-1970s, billing it as a supercenter, unfamiliar retail nomenclature at the time. The fanfare behind that store’s grand opening captivated the whole region. I’ll never forget unsuspectingly seeing television sets for sale in the store, and how cool I thought that was. 

Fast-forward some 40 years. Price Chopper and many similar supermarket operations across the country are among the last strongholds of regional retailing. Those that have remained closely intertwined with their hometown communities, while advancing their distribution and marketing capabilities and efficiencies to support steady regional expansion, have been able to fend off the influx of national mass merchants angling for more grocery share.

Local Support

Regional supermarkets have cemented trust and loyalty among their core shoppers over the years through a focus on homebred selections and community-centric marketing campaigns. That’s a significant advantage in the battle to capture and hold consumers once again embracing the virtues of supporting local businesses.

Grocery supercenters looking to inflate their shopping carts with consumer electronics, housewares, garden products and myriad other general merchandise staples might not be as startling as they were back in the 70s. The channel’s best operators, though, continue to refine their general merchandise strategies to balance traditional impulse goods with distinctive in-line programs that advance the stores as one-stop-shopping destinations.

Opportunity Hot Bed

This has become a hot bed of new sales opportunity for housewares suppliers that can overcome the channel’s impatience for slow-turning goods.

Landing an in-line slot at supermarkets is no easy accomplishment, but more such positions are opening for determined housewares suppliers. Meanwhile, hardline buyers at supermarkets seem eager to explore new, creative merchandising solutions that optimize every available nook and cranny in the stores.

Regional supermarket operators, such as Price Chopper’s Golub family, don’t always get a chance to share the stage with the national retail powers. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve credit for die-hard commitment to merchandising innovation and community that has kept them vital links in the retailing food chain.

Congratulations to Jane and Neil Golub from that former kid who had to tag along with his mom every week. I’ve been away from Schenectady and the Capital District for more than two decades. But I’ll never forget seeing TV sets for sale at a supermarket for the first time… and how important Price Chopper was to my family and me.