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Monday, December 31, 2018

Shoppers Update + Blog Announcement!

Hello and welcome back to the Shoppers Food Blog!

Today I want to present to you an update on this blog and my future outlook on activity here. This update is being posted concerning shifts in content and websites.

As this blog has been in existence for three years, it has seen a good deal of content ranging throughout Shoppers Food's history and its overall range of 60+ unique locations. There are more ideas that can be explored, however as changes are being made I have yet to release them. This post today will first brief on Shoppers' history since 2016 and then announce the future plans in store for this blog. Enjoy!

Since regular posts here paused there has been so much going on between Shoppers, SuperValu and the grocery market around. As SuperValu strives to become a wholesaler rather than a retail company, they have been disbanding operations of their different grocery chains, including Shoppers. It has been a turbulent time for everyone involved, and I'm here to explain some of it.

April 2017 saw a consolidation of operations between SuperValu's eastern U.S. grocers such as Shoppers, Farm Fresh and Shop 'n Save East, with operations based out of Shoppers' Bowie, MD headquarters. While the rest of 2017 was quiet for the retail conglomerate, 2018 saw major changes to the brand as a whole that especially affected Shoppers in D.C./Baltimore. In March of that year, SuperValu announced Farm Fresh, Shoppers' sister chain located in the Hampton Roads area would be sold. 21 stores were divested to competing chains Kroger, Harris Teeter and Food Lion while others were continued by various owners or outright closed. This was the first transaction conducted by SuperValu since the 2016 spin-off of Save-a-Lot and would start a year of closings and sales by the Minnesota firm. As of December 2018, the St. Louis-area Shop N' Save chain and Hornbacher's have been sold, the former of which has entirely been dismantled.

Shoppers Food in 2018 has felt the impact of SuperValu's measures, however with the most suspense and mystique out of any of their holdings. The most important news has come from multiple quiet closings conducted this year, perhaps the most in any year of Shoppers' history. While Shoppers has periodically shed stores in the past decade, including several in 2011 (part of a SuperValu round of closures) they have closed upwards of eight stores without major press. Most of these locations are destined for sales to competing chains or non-grocery retailers in the face of expansion or general low performance as Shoppers. Longtime rival Giant Food is so far the largest buyer, having purchased four stores (including the Seven Corners, VA store) and conducting major remodeling work to each. No other major grocers have announced the purchase of any stores as of yet. It is a shame somehow that pretty much any location can go at this point, however I am sure strong Shoppers performers will stay with the chain for some time.

In May 2018, SuperValu announced 40 executive layoffs for Shoppers, which was set to be another impact to the chain, leaving the chain with no leaders. Other shuffling of employees has also happened throughout the year to locations that have closed and those that have not. Overall it has become incredibly shaky for Shoppers, however for remaining stores I will assume they will stand their ground and continue for some time more. Only time will tell.
Additionally since then, Shoppers has renovated their Alexandria, VA (Potomac Yards) and Annapolis, MD to a new "Shoppers Market" concept downsizing stores and incorporating elements of Whole Foods and Wegmans as opposed to their traditional low-price promises.

Now about the blog. While it has fluctuated in activity since I first started it in 2015, I have continued revisiting, writing and updating viewers on this place since then. No new posts have been made since early 2017, however I have completed a few posts and continued thinking about what to do here. In the meantime, I have seen my Flickr page and other online ventures grow and I have realized the potential to write about more than just Shoppers. Therefore I have been considering starting a new blog that not only is about Shoppers, but expands reach to retailers in the region and beyond. I have not considered a name for the blog yet, however in case I will update you on this blog when the time comes. Otherwise, sadly this means the Shoppers Food Blog will be finishing updates for good sans another post or two, and edits to preserve content. I'm hoping to gain more viewers and more creative freedom on my next blog, which you will all see soon.

Thanks for the support to this blog and I hope you will continue to read through the works here. Goodnight and have a Happy New Year! -The Shoppers Food Blog







Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Another Retro Shoppers Food Commercial (+Bonus!)

Well, this place is up and running again, hopefully with all the promises kept from now on. I would, however take time to apologize for the unfinished posts I published back in October, since these were rushed to meet the deadline. I would take time to complete all five posts in a flash, and keep them as a "gallery" of posts rather than a constant news feed.
What we do have here for all of us today, however, is another Shoppers commercial that had been unearthed and now presented to the forefront on the blog. Plus, we even have a bonus below, so simply scroll down. Got it?
Dated from 1985, this commercial is basesd on interviews of Shoppers customers and a spokesperson repeating the claims afterwards. While still having a similar logo as later, the font is slightly different than the other logos, and has a somewhat different background.
 
Credit: Pannoni 9
Throwing an extra goody into the bag today, a WRC-TV (NBC's Washington, D.C. affiliate on channel 4) compilation of ads from 1987 shows another classic Shoppers Food Warehouse commercial at the 8:33 mark. The commercial has the same background tune as the previously shared 1991 commercials, and shows the usual weekly prices. Also to note, there are commercials from rivaling Giant Food and many other retail and food brands.

To sum today's edition of the Shoppers Food Blog up, I'm hoping these two vintage commercials show an out-of-the-ordinary side of the retailer for all of us. More commercials to come soon, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

In Memoriam: Manassas (East) Shoppers

As of late, the most Shoppers stores since 2011 have closed, with the third installment this year being the Manassas location along Liberia Ave., a store that succumbed to low traffic and an expired lease. The store was a more modern example of Shoppers, opening its' doors in the summer of 2004 and remaining open for around twelve years (including a 2011 remodel).

Former Shoppers - Manassas (East), VA (Store #2380)

Credit: Shoppers/SuperValu
Store Info
  • Location:
  • Opened: Summer 2004
  • Closed: August 21, 2016
  • Remodeled: Yes (2011, "Fresh & Healthy" package)
  • Interior packages: Mid-2000s theme (original "Real People. Real Value. Real Smart" variant), SuperValu "Fresh & Healthy" theme
  • Features: Pharmacy (closed in June 2016), Deli, Seafood, Shoppers Café, Bakery/Colossal Donuts, International, Health & Beauty, Beer/Wine, Frozen, Provident/M&T Bank (2004-2012)
After experiencing a wild ride with SuperFresh and Metro Food takeovers in previous years, Shoppers was ready to return to building more new stores, first expanding on some and then starting to place new locations in new areas, such as Gainesville (closed as of 2011), Dumfries, Laurel, and Baltimore. With a growing commercial area (starting with a Walmart) and an older store nearby to replace, Shoppers turned to this locale to build an upgraded modern store, which opened with several other shops and services/restaurants in 2004 in the Signal Hill Shopping Center.
A remnant that made its' way back into the store in 2015.
The store opened with the "Real People. Real Value. Real Smart." interior design and package, which was inspired by the classic Shoppers principles (slatted walls, orange/gray/black band, etc.) but with a more mid-level aesthetic, larger open spaces and multicolored wall signage.
About a year after opening, the Liberia Ave. store superceded the Maplewood store on Route 28 around 2 miles away, which became a unique El Primero Mercado location run by Shoppers. A classic warehouse-era store, the store had not seen major updates since opening in 1991 and market changes had been conducted during its tenure. The store briefly returned to the Shoppers name (albeit with an "International" byline) in 2008, only to back out entirely in the following year.

The store initially had a decent run as the first major grocery store in the area. Unfortunately, it was not long before the tides started to turn on the store. A host of competitors soon comprised the Liberia Ave. retail corridor. Aldi opened doors only four years later in 2008 (catering to a discount market as with Shoppers), Harris Teeter followed in 2010 and potentially the biggest blow to the store, Walmart across the street expanding into a Supercenter in late 2011. These three slowly took away market share along with other nearby trends, leading up to the closure. It was already evident in late 2012 when rival Giant closed their long-standing Manassas Junction store up Liberia Ave. about their effects into the consumer base of these stores.
The store, pictured here in the January 2016 blizzard.
According to certain sources, a closure for this Shoppers location was already planned early into the year alongside the Woodbridge store (which closed in February 2016). Also at the time was the $22.6 million acquisition of the center by the JCR Companies from the original owner, Regency Centers conducted that April. JCR likely may have decided to interrupt the Shoppers lease in favor of what was to come, though this is only a rumor.  Though the final verdict of the Liberia Ave. Shoppers came with their own lease loss, likely as they did not make enough profit and a more suitable tenant arrived in Fresh World.
The pharmacy department a month after closing, with shelves emptied ouut inside.
Preceding the closure, the pharmacy quietly closed sometime in June 2016. While a few Shoppers stores continuously operate without pharmacies inside, some pieces of the fate were already clear. I personally believed the store would continue to operate to an extent, however the store still showed signs of decline afterwards.

August came and the store closing sale finally had begun.  The store had initially benchmarked a closing for September 2 (according to a SuperValu paper), however pushed it forward to August 21 possibly due to selling out stock before anticipated. This concluded the run of the Liberia Ave. Shoppers, once a bustling store fallen to the waning grocery business of SuperValu among other factors.

The Aftermath

Despite no tenant announced during the closing, this store did not stay empty for long. Only a month after the closure, Fresh World, a small international grocer with two other locations around Northern Virginia announced they would be opening a new branch here. Only a month later, on November 18, 2016 they had finally set up shop and had opened doors. Despite installing fixtures in the store to their specifications and modifying the layout slightly, the store retained the general Shoppers decor package and some occasional logos and signs. As of 2018, Fresh World has done decent business and seems to have done several additions featuring various restaurants and the like.

That being said, this concludes the retrospective on this short-lived Shoppers store. I might likely make an entire store tour composed of all store photos from both Shoppers and now Fresh World. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Shoppers Building Styles/Layouts

Welcome back to another chapter of the (possibly) infinite Shoppers Food Blog book, and what a necessary one it will be today, depending on what you want to know. Anyways, let's get learning, and back to the time-traveling cart we go...

Also, take note that these tours start at the entrances and then progress around the edge of the store, from the produce, to dairy, to the checkouts. Enjoy.

Warehouse Era

The Manassas, VA (Maplewood) store in the mid-1990s. Credit: Shoppers
 While many stores were adapted from previous Jumbo Food, Grand Union, and other stores' layouts, Shoppers newbuilds also showcased a distinct layout, showing the progress of richer retail amenities and using the extents of their own original concept. 
Upon entrance, the perishables/service departments recieved the longer end of the stick, with a short U-turn from the respective side's entrance. These were coupled with a few rows of produce, as well as surrounding cases of vegetables as in many stores. The deli, amongst other prepared foods (and sometimes floral), were tucked away between the produce and the main aisles, which formed the divide in between the two sides of the store. In this era, the bakery (more specifically the Colossal Donut cases) directly faced the produce area.

Then, these sections were all followed by a corner of meat products, which led into the entire non-perishables/"shelf" products era (excluding the perimeter). Some stores also contained "grindery" grinded beef cases along these lines. In these stores, the rear corridors often consisted of dairy products, which then snaked into the frozen food departments. In the heart of the store, the (warehouse) shelving was arranged in multiple ways across the locations, featuring basic grocery (packaged foods), health & beauty, and club paks in some stores. Also, the bottom corner of the store was relegated to bread, which sometimes became the pharmacy in remodels. The checkout area also featured lower ceilings.

The original Centreville (Store #44) store's layout. Credit: shoppersfood.com

Shoppers Club


The Alexandria, VA (Potomac Yard) store before opening in 1997. Credit: Shoppers

Here, the stores largely expanded, with, as I stated before, new features. In comparison to before, all of these locations were purpose-built or major remodels of existing Shoppers locations. Shoppers Clubs also grew in size vastly, gaining a handful of aisles in most cases and bulking up on their prepared foods in a noticeable way. Vestibules were finally added into the entrances, and checkouts were further expanded. Dozens of to-go food bars were set besides the expansive deli/hot-to-go takeout section, almost competing with the likes of Harris Teeter and Wegmans in the present day. Towards the front of the store, the floral section was largely expanded and a unique Shoppers Cafe sit-in area was introduced in addition. The bakery was constructed as an alcove just around the corner, letting you sink into a world of Colossal Donuts and cakes (get something?).

Afterwards, a section of meats followed, with the usual departments and cases. This then followed into an expanded row of dairy products, lining the rear of the store. New to Shoppers Club, the back also featured alcoves/coolers for beverages, which have been retained to this day. Otherwise, the usual gathering of frozen foods was placed upon the side of the store afterwards. Rounding out the perimeter of the store, the final corner was mostly reserved for products such as bread and rolls (and bread & rolls accessories...), and sometimes wines as well. This setup did not last long, as pharmacies and Provident Bank branches were installed in place of these around the SuperValu acquisition.

As the stores grew, so did the aisles. While the same warehouse shelving was utilized, several aisles' features broke up the space to account for all the new features, such as the famous Club Paks (shown at right), which were (as stated before) competitors to membership warehouse clubs emerging at the time, like Costco and Sam's Club. Other major features were included in these stores, particularily ranging from mega soda selections, to even an ahead-of-its-time natural & organic aisle.
The Germantown, MD store's original, yet unusual layout exemplifying Shoppers Club. Credit: shoppersfood.com

SuperValu Era

The Laurel, MD store, pictured after its' 2005 grand opening. Credit: shoppersfood.com
 Jumping ahead several years or so into the early-mid 2000s, new-build Shoppers stores returned after the SuperValu acquisition of Richfood (and Shoppers), with an almost completely different format akin to other grocery stores. For starters, some features such as the Shoppers Café and larger service departments were retained, while some other features were alscaled back compared to previously. This time, the layout was also available in a couple of distinct options, with mirrored variants and an inverted perishables area with customer service by the front windows.

The store became more wide open than before, with a simpler, more broad layout accompanied with a straightforward ceiling. For the first time, pharmacies (and sometimes banks) were included with the new stores and featured a detailed showcase of health and beauty products, even with floating signs above. The flooring is also enhanced in these stores, breaking from the usual orange lattice and going for a grey/white tiled look, and also fancy new wooden floors in the upgraded International and Health & Beauty sections.

Shoppers Laurel MD
The Beverages department at the Laurel (Maryland City), MD store... what about that invisible sign? Credit: Will (B-More Retail)

Since then, little has changed as Shoppers only opened few new stores after 2007. Certain modifications, however were conducted with remodels to the newer SuperValu looks particularily with flooring and departments. Around the store, the tiles have generally adopted one consistent version of the grey tiles/earth-tone flooring. Both Laurel, MD stores, which cannot sell beer/wine due to Maryland laws originally opened with bread located in the typical alcove (akin to classic Warehouse Shoppers). However, recent remodels have relocated non-alcoholic beverages (such as soda and water) into these spaces.

This concludes our tour of Shoppers Food's design history. Be sure to be on the lookout for more timelines of their history and facts you did not know. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What's Next for the Blog?

Well well, welcome back for this brief nugget of time from the (always) one and only Shoppers Food Blog! Yes, brief indeed since this is one quick post.

Why have I been not updating this blog now, exactly? So far, I have been rather busy (in all ways, however, not really Shoppers) and, well, summer is a time to relax. We want to save the posts for when you're indoors/at home more, now. That is simple logic.

However, what's next? Well, the blog will finally return for good, with a new, long-awaited post followed by a full week of new ones starting Monday, October 3rd.
It's going to take you there... and instantly back!

-BatteryMill

Friday, August 12, 2016

"Smart Shoppers Shop Shoppers" Commercial!

My sincere apologies for skipping a month on this blog, but oh well. You're going to get something pretty sweet to make up for it. And by sweet, I mean as sweet as those apples you'd find at the store. Hmm...?
Shoppers Food & Pharmacy - Home Hair Cuts from Jake Smialek on Vimeo.

Okay, okay, this is actually the sweet thing I want to show. Well, of course it does not contain the most thrilling moments in this advertising sport of all time, but you judge it. It can be considered "thrilling" by Shoppers standards, however.

Moving on to slightly more factual talk, this ad was part of the famous "Smart Shoppers Shop Shoppers" slogan campaign and focuses on a family who relies on home haircuts to afford their grocery shopping at other stores. On the flipside, they can head to Shoppers (or the generic store, according to the footage) instead and save money (and yes, things are technical here). The end of the commercial also features a funky logo animation and a glimpse of the current logo with the 2003 wordmark. It's all in this (rather cheesy) commercial!

To conclude, I do not really know when this commercial was made, but this could be 2004, since it is looking at the other spots released then (http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising/gkvs-ultimatum-save-shoppers-or-else-73192). Anyways, I hope I can see you soon here on this blog with more posts, and keep dreaming on.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Shoppers Update: Amazon Lockers in Baltimore-Area Stores

- Shoppers Update -

Bringing you the latest and greatest of the chain. 
 In contrast to the unfortunate store closing in Towson, cheer up about Shoppers!: Several stores are testing an Amazon Locker concept, where you can easily pick up your online Amazon orders when you shop at Shoppers Food. This article on The Baltimore Sun entails these developments (http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bal-baltimore-s-first-amazon-lockers-appear-at-shoppers-food-stores-20160601-story.html), being the first of its' kind in the Baltimore area. Don't forget to check these out soon.