Beating the Little Town Blues
By Craig Levitt
I was in Atlanta years ago on a business and upon my hotel arrival the lovely lady at reception asked where I was from and how I liked “our city.” Being from New York, I replied that it was “a nice little town.” She seemed a tad offended when I called Atlanta “a little town,” but with apologies to our southern friends, to somebody accustomed to size and scope of New York City that’s exactly what Atlanta—and for that matter nearly any other city that isn’t New York—is. What does this have to do with food retailing? The Grocery Headquarters June cover story, written masterfully by executive editor Richard Turcsik, addresses the challenges supermarkets currently face from the various other channels looking to eat away traditional grocery retailers market share. After reading it—you all should, did I mention it is really, really good—I kinda feel like supermarkets are the New York City of retailers when it comes to selling food and everyday household items, and all other classes of trade are that “nice little town." We all know supermarkets get the lion’s share of foot traffic. Most also have something these other channels don't have... and something they ought to exploit—the ability to provide something, of quality—for everyone. Sure, drugstores are selling fresh, but they can’t really compete with what grocers can offer. Dollar stores may have low prices, but who makes a planned visited there, it is like planning a vacation to Cheboygan. The competition for consumer dollars is fierce—now more than ever before. To succeed supermarkets need to channel their inner NYC and use their size and ability to be a one-stop-shop to squash the “little towns” that are trying to make inroads on their territory.