IGA Courts Town Shoppers

Mar 19, 2002

T.W. Johnston & Sons is content to saturate small towns. Brothers, Thomas and David Johnston, created a niche for themselves in 1973 when they went to work for their family’s Frankenmuth IGA Foodliner/Ben Franklin operation in the Frankenmuth (MI) Bavarian Mall. Since then, the co-presidents have built the company to encompass IGA stores in Bridgeport Township, Chesaning, Vassar and in October, Imlay City.

The latest acquisition pits the brothers directly against a new Farmer Jack that sits across the street, but Thomas Johnston said there is some strategy behind the move. “The store in Imlay is 17,000 square feet, 15 years old and located in a strip mall,” says Thomas Johnston. “In comparison, the Farmer Jack is 45,000 square feet, but there is certain clientele who don’t want to go into the Farmer Jack because they want a smaller store.”

T.W. Johnston & Sons’ flagship outlet, Frankenmuth IGA, received IGA Inc.’s Five Star rating last month. The Johnstons recently added a pharmacy, reorganized the bakery and produce areas as part of its $1.5 million renovation, which increased the size of the Frankenmuth mall from 6,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet. “You have to keep remodeling and investing in your business,” says Thomas Johnston.

Moderator Comment: How can smaller, independent retailers be successful in today’s consolidating business environment?

The predictions of independents becoming extinct are premature. Many of retailing’s Davids are more than holding their own against the Goliaths of the industry. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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