In the grocery business this week, the buzz is about the abrupt shut down of Stanley's Produce on Elston Street in Chicago. For those of you who don't know Stanley's or are from out of town, this store was a Mecca of cheap pricing for produce. They got things a bit on the "ripe" side, moved inventory at rock bottom prices, and had a wide selection and loyal customers.
So why did it close?
The store owner has been quoted as saying that Mariano's (the chain of stores now owned by Kroger/Roundy) surrounded them by opening two stores within the area and sales at Stanley's rapidly dropped. Also, the underlying real estate of the store became very valuable with the possible development of the Lincoln Yards project by Sterling Bay. This is most likely the real reason why closing made sense)
But what bugged me the most as a quote that basically equated value as being based strictly on price.
“We’re not doing the same volume, ever since the two Mariano’s came in. Everybody’s selling what we sell now. There’s nothing people have to travel out of their way for, except better value.”
I believe that value can be represented in different ways. Price is what most people think of when talking about "value" but I think that it represents other things that people will pay up for.
These include a great staff that is friendly and helpful, a quick transaction without waiting in long lines and wrestling with a self checkout machine that never works right (you know what I mean!), and the knowledge that the food you are digesting is coming from small family owned farms that really believe in nurturing the soil and creating true organic products.
At our store, Green Grocer Chicago (www.greengrocerchicago.biz), we believe that we are providing value even though we are not the cheapest option. But our customers seem loyal and understand that what they get at our store is something that they cannot get in another place.
That's what value means to us! What do you think?