Madison Foods, the Boston-area independent Save A Lot operator, has joined the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative and will switch its three stores—and open a fourth store early next year—to Wakefern’s Price Rite Marketplace banner, the cooperative said.
Owned and operated by the Slawsby family, Madison Foods said it would begin switching its stores—which are located in Roslindale, Roxbury, and Brockton, Mass., and said to be among the highest-volume Save A Lot units in the country—to the PriceRite format in coming weeks. A fourth store owned by Madison, in Dorchester, Mass., will open in January, under the PriceRite Marketplace banner.
The switch makes Madison Foods the Wakefern cooperative’s 51st independent co-owner and the first of them to only operate discount stores. PriceRite is a registered trademark of Wakefern with nearly 60 discount stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Maryland. Some Price Rite stores are owned and managed by by the cooperative and others by its members.
Price Rite has revamped its format in recent years, adding the “Marketplace” name and transitioning from a warehouse format mainly designed to offload goods and aid distribution efficiency to a small, limited assortment store emphasizing simplicity, fresh foods and price in an efficient format that more closely resembles models like Aldi, Lidl and Save A Lot.
Wakefern said customers of Madison’s stores can expect their favorite features to remain—including in-store meat butchers and a variety of ethnic foods and value products said to be a key element of the stores’ high sales volumes—as the locations are renovated and new exclusive brands added. Customers will also notice new advertising circulars with special deals for the Price Rite Marketplace locations.
“We will continue to provide all the things our customers know and love while adding more variety and award-winning store brands that the Wakefern cooperative offers,” said Todd Slawsby, president of Madison Foods, who runs the business with his father, Harold, and brother, Jonathan. “This is the exciting next chapter in my family’s history in the grocery business. I want to thank shoppers for their support and patience as we undertake rebranding efforts and make the change to Price Rite Marketplace.”
The Slawsby family has been operating grocery stores in the Boston area since the 1940s, when Harold’s father, Ben Slawsby, started a meat market in Dorchester that eventually became Capitol Foods, a 10-store supermarket chain. The company opened its first store under the Save A Lot banner in 1996 and added additional Save A Lot locations in 2000 and 2004.
“I am excited to welcome the Slawsby family to our Wakefern cooperative, which is made up of family-owned, independent grocers with a 75-year history in the supermarket business,” said Joseph Colalillo, chairman and CEO of Wakefern, based in Keasbey, N.J., whose independent owners also run the ShopRite chain. “These stores will expand the Price Rite Marketplace brand in the Boston area and bring the Price Rite commitment of value and quality to the communities of Roslindale, Roxbury, Brockton and Dorchester.”
The new Price Rite Marketplace locations will also offer several Wakefern own brand products, including the new popular Bowl & Basket andPaperbirdlines. Shoppers will also be able to purchase Wakefern’s award-winning Wholesome Pantry brands, which include the Wholesome Pantry Organic line as well as a range of products free from artificial additives and preservatives.
Madison was the only independent Save A Lot operator in Massachusetts, although the St. Louis-based discounter has additional corporate-owned Save A Lots in the Springfield, Mass., market. Save A Lot executives have said they would look to sell nearly all of its owned stores to independent operators as it switches from a retail-wholesale hybrid to a traditional wholesaler.
The limited-assortment discount supermarket—and the expectations of its shoppers—have come a long way in the 23 years since Wakefern Food Corp. first rolled out its Price Rite store.
The 65-store discount chain is now in the process of a companywide brand refresh that reflects and showcases some of those changes, including higher expectations for assortment, particularly in fresh foods and indulgences; improved service; and a brighter and more welcoming shopping environment. The changes, which were unveiled in suburban Philadelphia’s Secane, Pa.-based Price Rite store late last year, accompanied a new logo and name to describe it: Price Rite Marketplace.
“We spent a lot of time looking at our stores and thinking about ways to create the best possible shopping experience for our customers,” says Jim Dorey, who was named Price Rite’s new president in October. “Visitors to redesigned Price Rite Marketplace stores will find a brighter, revitalized space featuring new in-store signage and additions like the Sweet Spot dessert case. The transition introduces a fresh updated logo, and a cleaner, more modern backdrop design of whitewashed wood throughout the store, coupled with a carefully curated selection of products.”
Price Rite has origins as a cost-effective way to expand Wakefern’s sales and reach beyond geographies where its independent cooperative members operate full-service supermarkets under the ShopRite banner. Until recently, all of its stores were corporately owned; in 2014, the company allowed its co-op members to use the concept with an eye on strategic deployment within their markets.
Meats in the revamped Marketplace stores include organic and natural items, grass-fed offerings, Grade A poultry, Perdue’s No Antibiotics Ever Chicken, USDA Choice cuts and Certified Angus Beef products.
Shoppers at Price Rite Marketplace can fulfill a desire for indulgences with a new Sweet Spot dessert display, featuring messaging that reinforces quality and taste as much as price.
A brighter and more exciting shopper environment, Dorey says, reflects shopper expectations that they needn’t sacrifice experience for a bargain. New signs highlight indulgent selections and rotating special buys on items such as TVs. Prices on these, according to Dorey, are cheaper than at warehouse clubs.
Wakefern officials expect the Marketplace concept to be rolled out to the majority of its Price Rite stores over its nine-state footprint this year. The new name and look has since been incorporated at a new Price Rite store in Paterson, N.J., and last month expanded to five existing units in Connecticut, with four more in that state expected to be completed soon.