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Bottom Dollar Food Marks First Year of Operations
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Tangela Nicholson, shopping for groceries Wednesday morning at Bottom Dollar Food's store at the intersection of Glenwood and Indianola avenues on the South Side, says she shops at the grocery store at least three times each week.
That was an option Nicholson and residents of the nearby Idora neighborhood didn't have a year ago, before Bottom Dollar Food opened on the site of the former Cleveland Elementary School and playground.
"We're really glad to have the store in this neighborhood," Nicholson says. Many residents of the neighborhood, especially the elderly, don’t have cars to get around, she pointed out, and so the store's presence is helping a lot of people save money -- including her. Between coupons and catching sales, she estimates she saves "a good $50" each week on average.
A Sparkle grocery store that prevously served the neighborhood closed more than a decade ago, and a Giant Eagle in nearby Cornersburg closed a few years ago.
The 18,000-square-foot grocery was one of three Bottom Dollar Food stores the chain opened in Youngstown in February 2012. Bottom Dollar operates 53 stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The chain stocks approximately 6,500 items per stores, including fresh produce, meats and both private label and national brand products.
In commemorating its first year of operations locally, store festivities Wednesday included key chain and gift-card giveaways to the first 200 customers as well as community donations.
"Youngstown is doing very well. We're very satisfied with the results," said Nick Siniscalshi, director of operations for 16 stores in Ohio and near Pittsburgh. "We've been very well accepted by the people in the community."
That acceptance apparently is strong enough that Bottom Dollar is preparing to enter Trumbull County later this year, opening a store at Route 422 and North Road in Warren. The chain also plans to open a store this year in New Castle, Pa.
Bottom Dollar Food, based in Salisbury, N.C., is operated by Delhaize America, the U.S. subsidiary of Delhaize Group, Belgium. Its other units include Food Lion, Hannaford and Harvey’s. According to a preliminary revenue report issued Jan. 17, revenues for Delhaize’s U.S. business were down 2.1% in the fourth quarter from the same period in 2011. For the full year, revenues for the U.S. unit last year were down 2.2% from 2011.
“In order to deliver unbelievable prices, we need to be fanatical about lowering costs," said the company's president, Meg Ham, said in the 2011 Delhaize annual report. "In our case, lower operating costs result from the smaller size of the store and the corresponding lower operating expenses such as depreciation, utilities and rent. We also design our stores to be extremely efficient from a labor perspective. In this format, smaller is better in terms of efficiency and presentation of the assortment and concept.”
Siniscalshi, the director of regional operations, says Bottom Dollar is "able to keep our prices low because of efficiencies inside our building." He cites the produce department, located in the front of the store. Produce is brought in and put “right out there in front of the customer for them to buy,” he explains. “It doesn’t take a lot of labor to do that.” He cites other efficiencies throughout the store, including how groceries are stocked and displayed. “We’re able to save labor and save costs that we can pass on to the customer.”
In addition, the “Wow" marketing program features prices that are “ridiculously low,” Siniscalshi says. “We also price check our competition and we always try to stay right below the competition.”
Store employee Joana Mitchell of Youngstown, who lives not far from the store, says she enjoys working at the store. “I’m hoping to grow with the company,” she adds.
In addition to the Warren store opening later this year, “We’re always looking for opportunities to grow,” Siniscalshi said.
Copyright 2012 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.