Giant Food Stores has entered into an agreement with Ferguson & Hassler to acquire its Quarryville, Pa., store, which will reopen under the Giant brand following a quick refurbishing.
Family-owned Ferguson & Hassler has operated for more than 100 years in Lancaster County, Pa. The 65,000-square-foot Quarryville location, known as Fergie’s, was its only store and had operated since 1988. The store is scheduled to close June 19 and will reopen approximately a week later as Giant following a remodel and the installation of an on-site fuel station.
The acquisition marks Giant’s second buyout of a Lancaster County independent in the past year. In September, the Ahold Delhaize unit purchased Darrenkamp’s Willow Valley store in Lancaster. Darrenkamp’s three other units closed.
In a message to customers posted to Ferguson & Hassler’s Facebook page, Chip Hassler said the company approached Giant about acquiring the store.
“The existing economics in the grocery industry no longer support the operation of a family-owned, independent supermarket such as ours,” the note said.
“We have tried numerous avenues to be successful over the years with the single exception of opening our doors on Sunday,” Hassler added. “It has become clear that only way to provide better value to our customers and better opportunities for our employees is to have a larger operator here.”
Ferguson & Hassler employs about 175 workers. Giant said they would have the opportunity to interview with Giant.
“We were thrilled when the Hassler family contacted us about their beautiful store,” Nicholas Bertram, president, of Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant, said in a statement. “We recognize the important role this store plays in the Quarryville community, and we can’t wait to begin serving the loyal customers of Ferguson & Hassler’s and introduce them to the very best of the Giant brand, which many customers throughout Lancaster County have enjoyed for more than 20 years.”
Giant operates nine stores in Lancaster County, employing more than 1,400 associates.
The Ferguson & Hassler’s announcement follows a series of strategic investments that the company has recently made to its store fleet, including the opening of the first Giant Heirloom Market in Philadelphia, where three additional locations are planned; the grand opening of its new Giant Direct e-commerce hub in Lancaster; the opening of five new Martin’s Food Markets in April following the company’s acquisition of five Shop ‘n Save locations; a new store in Walnutport, Pa., that opened earlier this month, and a new store set to open in East Stroudsburg, Pa., later this year.
About two months into its existence, Giant Heirloom Market is doing pretty much what its creators hoped it would—providing a reliable option for neighborhood shoppers and a credible rendering of a suburban supermarket brand in a tight urban space.
Unlike its full-scale sister stores operated out of Giant Food Stores’ Carlisle, Pa., headquarters, Heirloom Market in Philadelphia has no parking lot and at 9,000 square feet, is about five times smaller than the smallest suburban Giant store. The brand instead is getting by with a curated assortment built for city shoppers, bolstered by an e-commerce offer promising the full breadth of products.
WGB stopped in last week for a look:
The fresh produce department dominates the entrance and gets good light from windows along the facade. The store is at the intersection of Bainbridge Street and Grays Ferry Avenue in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, and on the ground floor of a newly built four-story residential building.
An outpost of a local organic foods shop, Green Aisle Grocery, is just up the block but does not offer the mainstream variety available at Heirloom. A little further down Grays Ferry Avenue is an outpost of The Fresh Grocer, which may compete for some shoppers. The store Yelp users are comparing Heirloom to is Sprouts Farmers Market, which made its Philadelphia debut late last year a little closer to center city. Heirloom’s relative small size won’t likely draw Sprouts shoppers to Graduate Hospital, but it is saving its own neighborhood shoppers the trip.
From left are Paul Madarieta, Nick Meyer, Tommy McClain, Kristie Bennett and Angel Cordero. Madarieta is a former Trader Joe’s, Fresh Direct and Fresh & Easy executive recruited to help launch the Heirloom project at Giant. Meyer and McClain helped to craft the assortment and merchandising, and Cordero is the store’s manager.
Shoppers who want more than the store’s four walls can fit needn’t worry. Giant’s newly launched e-commerce brand, Giant Direct, will provide “endless aisle” capability for shoppers who can order ahead and pick up at the store, or arrange for delivery. Pictured beneath the screens are coolers to store fresh orders.
Private label—particularly Ahold Delhaize’s natural and organic Nature’s Promise line—dominates grocery selection in categories such as pet food (pictured here). Though selection is tight, it pops thanks to magnetic light strips affixed to the underside of shelves that store officials can utilize to spotlight some or all products. Messaging also highlights service.