Three Bi-Lo grocery stores in Columbia will cease to operate under the long-familiar banner and convert to a lesser-known, discount brand, Harveys, effective immediately, the parent company of the two brands said.
The local stores are part of a major rebrand of 73 stores throughout the Southeast in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida owned by Southeastern Grocers, whose store brands also include Winn-Dixie.
Southeastern Grocers operated 130 Bi-Lo stores and one Harveys Supermarket in South Carolina prior to the change, which is effective on Wednesday. Statewide, six Bi-Lo stores will convert to Harveys.
In the Columbia area, Southeastern Grocers said it operated eight Bi-Lo stores until this week. Beginning Wednesday, five will remain Bi-Los. The three new local Harvey stores are located on Broad River Road at St. Andrews Road, North Main Street at Monticello Road and on Decker Boulevard.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company said the move comes after months of listening to customers, who the company said asked for better prices.
The company, which has worked for months on the store changes, said it has tailored each of its new Harveys Supermarket stores to fit the needs of the communities they serve, focusing on “great value, stunning quality food and serving with personality.”
“We hope our customers will be excited as we are,” said Ian McLeod, Southeastern Grocers CEO.
He said he believes customers will be excited by the lower prices at Harveys. “They are going to see a lot better value. And they’re going to see new assortments coming in that these stores haven’t carried before.”
The new supermarkets will feature more than 600 “everyday items” customers can purchase for $1, McLeod said, including beverages, canned goods, cleaners and other items.
There will be a special offering where customers can mix and match more than 75 frozen or fresh meats in a pack for $19.95, providing enough to feed a family for several days, McLeod said. The stores will also offer a broader meat selection, he said, featuring more smoked meats in big packs for better value, a more expansive produce department and more “ethnic” offerings, McLeod said.
In all, more than 3,000 items in the stores will have lower prices, he said.
The stores are also getting facelifts, McLeod said, including new equipment and new paint, to make the shopping experience more engaging and up-to-date. There will be 73 ribbon-cuttings in Harveys Supermarkets across four states on Wednesday. New rewards cards will also be issued.
The grocery market in the Southeast must be looked at on a “community-by-community” basis, he said. Geographical differences, personal tastes and styles, income differences and ethnicity all come into play at the grocery store, McLeod said.
Southeastern Grocers introduced two pilot stores in Jacksonville and Charlotte to test the new approach, McLeod said, and both stores “performed extremely well,” he said. The cost of groceries is a big issue, rising by double digit percentages over the past five years, said Marianne Bickle, director of the Center for Retailing at the University of South Carolina. “Consumers are really feeling the pinch.”
While consumers would prefer to shop at stores with higher prices and a nicer atmosphere and aesthetics, they realize they can go elsewhere and get the same quality of food, sans the amenities, for less money, Bickle said.
“In the South, the grocery store landscape is changing,” Bickle said. More stores are coming at the high-end and at the lower, bulk-price end, she said. “We are seeing Trader Joe’s. We are seeing Whole Foods, at the high end. But we are also seeing Aldi’s and Costco.”
People are shopping at Aldi’s and Costco to buy in bulk and store up food in freezers, Bickle said. People who want high-end or organic products will always shop at the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, she said. Sam’s Club, a wholesale warehouse, is now getting competition, Bickle said.
“So, by saying that Bi-Lo will change and become a Harveys as the subsidiary brand, what they are saying to their consumers is, we’re going to give you the same good, quality product, but you can buy it in bulk and save money. What they are saying to people in the South is, you don’t need to go to Costco, or Sam’s – you don’t need to buy an admittance card, you can come to us.”
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398
About Harveys Supermarkets
Harveys Supermarkets began in 1903 when Iris Johson Harvey of Tifton, Ga., began selling canned goods from the parlor of her home as a railroad commissary. Her front-room store was so successful that her husband, J.M. Harvey, gave up his job as a railroad section foreman to tend to the growing business.
Source: Harveys Supermarkets