Retailers remodel rather than opening new stores

05/25/2010 01:49:00 PM
Ashley Bentley

Adam Gamble, general manager of North Country Produce, subsidiary of Inver Grove Heights, Minn.-based Russ Davis Wholesale, said doing business in Target’s backyard has its advantages.

“We’re up here at the home of Target, so we get to see their changes,” Gamble said. “They take a piece of the market share, but it doesn’t especially hurt other retailers.”

Aldi has made significant inroads in Minnesota and Wisconsin the past few years, Gamble said.

“They sell a lot of produce, and they’re one of the most affordable places to buy food,” Gamble said. “I think their (competitive) effect is really on Wal-Mart and other discounters.”

Regional players

Regional chains Lunds & Byerly’s and Supervalu Inc.’s Cub stores are holding their own, Hannigan said.

“The strong Cubs are doing well,” Hannigan said. “They had something like a 52% market share a few years ago, and that’s extraordinary, so it’s just knocked off to a normal level.”

Supervalu operates 78 Cub Foods stores in the Twin Cities, but hasn’t specified the markets in which its capital spending will be focused this year, said Haley Marconett, corporate communications.

Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson, which at its core is a national third-party logistics company but is constantly working further up the supply chain with grower-shippers on certain products, supplies many of the local retailers, said Jim Lemke, senior vice president of sourcing.

“You’ll see our products in Lunds & Byerly’s,” Lemke said. “You’ll even see our oranges in Walgreen’s.”

Lemke said he’s noticed — instead of new store openings — remodeling of existing stores to accommodate fresh produce, along with produce in convenience stores.

“I think it’s a good thing. It will help us reach out with fresh produce, as long as those stores can keep fresh product and can stomach throwing away produce that has passed its shelf life,” Lemke said.

J&J Distributing also operates its own retail store, The Produce Exchange, at the Midtown Market.

The Wedge Co-op, a one-store organic market in Minneapolis, hasn’t been hurt at all by the growth of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in the Twin Cities the past few years, said Tom Rodmyre, warehouse manger for the co-op’s distribution arm, Co-op Partners Warehouse.



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