Limited-assortment grocers appear to be generally competing favorably against traditional supermarkets. But Giant Eagle believes its new concept — Good Cents Grocery + More — also competes well against similar limited-assortment stores.
Heralding it as the "missing link between discount stores and supermarkets," Good Cents Grocery is an evolution of the Valu King prototype Giant Eagle has been testing in the Pittsburgh area over the last several years.
Among the differences relative to other similar limited-assortment grocers such as Aldi, Bottom Dollar Food and Save-A-Lot that have moved into the Western Pennsylvania in recent years, the 46,000-square-foot store features a full-service deli and a meat department that cuts and grinds meats in the store. An expansive cheese department features more than 60 varieties and lies next to a small olive bar.
The produce section has tripled in size since the first Valu King opened in 2008. The store also features a health & beauty section as well as pet food, and soymilk that weren't carried in earlier versions of Valu King. The overall alterations over the years come from customer requests.
"While today's shoppers are certainly looking to stretch their food budgets through affordable-priced shopping, they shouldn't have to sacrifice quality and freshness," said John Tedesco, SVP of merchandising, in a statement.
Promising "extremely low prices on produce, deli, meat, cheese and grocery items," the store still carries the low-price Valu Time brands that largely defined the discount provided in the original format. But more mid-price to premium brands have been added to the mix since earlier versions of Valu King. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that the juice section carries Tropicana, Florida's Natural, Dole and Minute Maid as well as a Valu Time version.
To save both labor costs and for space constraints, the store doesn't have a bakery or a pharmacy. Customers are checked out, but have to either bring their own bags or pay five cents per bag. They also need to pack up their own groceries.
The store's value proposition will be continually tested since it sits directly next to a Bottom Dollar. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune, iceberg lettuce is priced at 79 cents, exactly the same as Bottom Dollar. But prices at Good Cents Grocery faired notably better for bananas, Maxwell House Wake-Up Roast Coffee and Progresso soup.
The six existing Valu King stores are expected to be renamed to Good Cents Grocery + More after they are converted to the new format.
Are limited-assortment grocers starting to cannibalize each other?