Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Grocery Store Satisfies a Big Hunger

The big excitement in my area this month has been the grand opening of a Hannaford grocery story. For many larger towns and cities, a new grocery store is not that big a deal. It would barely cause a blip on the interest screen. But here, it’s big with a capital B.

Why such a big deal? At one point in time the town had as many as five grocery stores. That worked out to about one grocery store for every 500 year round residents. Retirement, acquisitions, and business shut downs left the town with only one grocery store. In typical small town small business fashion, the store was inadequate to meet the needs of the population. The store was small and cramped. The prices were high. The service was uninspired at best.

As the population increased, the need for a good grocery store increased as well. Residents routinely drove 20-40 minutes to other towns to shop at Hannaford or Shaw’s for better variety and lower prices. We would end up spending a half a day just to get the weekly grocery shopping done.

Rumors have flown around for years that Hannaford was coming to town. Finally, last year everything fell into place. A suitable site was found, permissions were granted, ground was broken. All winter long we’ve watched the progress as the store was constructed, signs went up, help was hired, and delivery trucks unloaded.

At long last, the much anticipated grand opening was held. Townspeople turned up in droves, filling the parking lot, crowding the aisles, and filling the registers. It was truly the talk of the town. I have never seen such a warm welcome for a new business as the one displayed for Hannaford. People are gushing about it. People were rushing over to the grocery store on the slightest whim—Oops! I need more paprika. Darn! Forgot to get an onion. Golly, I’ve got a hankering for….something.

Why has this grand opening been such a success? It is a simple business premise. Find a hungry market and give it what it wants. Our town has had an unsatisfied hunger for a good grocery store for years. Finally, that hunger has been fed.

Had the new store been a clothing store or a hardware store it would have been nice but it is doubtful the world would have beaten a path to the door. The hunger just isn’t there. Hannaford had an easy job of selling the town on a new grocery store because everyone wanted it to happen. They had an easy job of selling the citizens on coming to the store because everyone was already in the parking lot waiting anxiously for the store to open its doors. That’s the kind of selling job we all would like to have. And it’s the kind we get when we take the time to understand what our market is really looking for—in our case the market was looking for….a market—the kind with cabbages and crackers!

Until next time,
Caroline Jordan

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