Progressive Grocer Independent

APR 2016

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City, Mich., on the site of a long-empty independent IGA grocery. Big results in small towns Most of the Freeman brothers' Save-A-Lot stores—which tend to measure between 15,000 and 18,000 square feet— are in towns of 2,500 or fewer, although some serve entire counties with populations of 15,000 or more. Their biggest store is in Traverse City, which has a surrounding popula- tion of close to 100,000. "We've been growing pretty consistently," says Tim Freeman. "We purchased some existing stores, but mostly opened our own." The key to developing in these kinds of small markets, says Tim Freeman, is fnding a suitable available building. "First, we look at the competition in town," he says. "We were already familiar with northern Michigan, so we knew where the Save-A-Lot model would ft into that market." It's also important to investigate whether the location will support a discount grocer, says Paul Freeman. "We look at the current competitors, how much EBT [Electronic Ben- efts Transfer] is available in the county and the location of the building." The Freemans own three of their locations, and a separate realty company bought the land for the others and leases the buildings to Freeman Family Enterprises. "When you open a new store, the advantage if you lease the building is that your investment is a lot less, sometimes 50 percent less," says Tim Freeman. "As we have grown over the years, leasing more of our buildings has freed up capital to invest in our growth." Beefing up business The Save-A-Lot model attracts customers looking for good value, but that's not the only important consideration, the brothers say. "We have a very good meat image," says Paul Freeman. "We take pride in that." "We feel that if people buy your meat at your store, they'll buy a lot of other things too," adds Tim Freeman. "We cut all our meat in our own stores. We have our own butchers, and we do custom cuts." One for all, all for one As a partner, Save-A-Lot fts right into the brothers' busi- ness model of mutual support, the Freemans say. "Save-A-Lot partners with us in researching future locations, store design, store setup and merchandising in opening new stores. They also assist with training new associates," says Tom Freeman. "After the store is opened, Save-A-Lot will continue to assist us in advertising, com- petitive price checks, and updated plan-o-grams for every department, along with merchandising recommendations each month. This allows us to spend more time managing our business and taking care of our customers." The brothers say they appreciate the benefts of Save-A- Lot as a supplier as well. "Save-A-Lot makes it very easy to order for our stores because all departments can be ordered on one truck," says Tom Freeman. "Our distribution center here has always been very accommodating with special orders, along with sending additional trucks to ensure that we are ready for business every day." "Save-A-Lot has developed a lot of effciencies that enable us to be competitive," adds Tim Freeman. GE 3 ISSUE 1, VOL. 5 Advertorial WWW.SAVE-A-LOT.COM/OWN

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