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    May 2017 Store of the Month: Unlimited Express

    Brookshire Brothers demonstrates how great things can come in small formats

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    Where can you get fresh produce, fried chicken, craft beer and a fishing license?

    For folks in the East Texas community of Grapeland, finding all of that meant driving many miles and stopping at more than one location. That is, until they got a Brookshire Brothers Express store in their town.

    This 16,000-square-foot store is compact yet chock full of everything local shoppers want most — many of the things you’d find in a much larger grocery store.

    The Express format is just one of the ways Lufkin, Texas-based Brookshire Brothers has addressed the specific needs of the communities it serves.

    “The inspiration for this store concept has its roots in the small-store formats that we have operated for the last 20 years,” says John Alston, who ascended to president and CEO of the employee-owned retailer in May after a stint as its COO. “It’s long been a mission of ours to serve the small communities in our operating area. To this end, we have developed several formats through the years tailored to meet the unique needs of these communities. Our Grapeland store is our latest interpretation of this solution.”

    Brookshire Brothers made sure it was delivering exactly what this rural Houston County community, a two-hour drive southeast of Dallas, wanted when carefully planning how to allot the limited space within the store.

    “We have a fundamental belief that it’s our mandate to design and select unique item assortments that our customers want,” Alston asserts. “As word circulated in Grapeland that we were going to build a store there, we had numerous requests to include a pharmacy. In fact, a stack of hundreds of letters was personally delivered to me reiterating that request. We listened, included a pharmacy in the design, and it’s off to a great start.”

    Convenient Grocery

    The full-service pharmacy, the first for an Express store, features a drive-up window as well as an immunization room and a LifeClinic self-service health station.

    Customers needing to do more than just pick up a prescription are greeted outside the store by a selection of locally made wooden outdoor furniture for sale, as well as deer feeders for hunting season.

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    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editorial director of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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