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SALISBURY, N.C. -- It is déjà vu all over again? Food Lion, the one-time king of no-frills, small-box grocery discounting in the South, is charging itself with "redefining the discount grocery model" via the test of a new price-conscious, product-heavy grocery concept called Bottom Dollar. The regional chain, based here, said on Friday it will open the third of the new pilot Bottom Dollar stores on Oct. 19 in Asheboro, N.C.
The stores so far range between 25,000 and 30,000 square feet, and carry both national brands and private label products (around 6,500 items, on average). Food Lion said Bottom Dollar units will also offer fresh produce and quality meats at discount prices, in a shopping environment with an upbeat, humorous attitude. Food Lion developed the concept over the course of this year, and quietly opened its first unit on Sept. 21 in High Point, N.C.
The Bottom Dollar concept is built around the classical no-frills philosophy of streamlining services and operations, and passing the savings on to the shoppers. "We did a great deal of research into what consumers wanted, and found shoppers are very savvy [and] interested in getting the most for their money through a price, quality, and selection equation," said Tom Anderson, Bottom Dollar’s director. "Bottom Dollar hits all of those marks by providing customers with a full-shop grocery experience that offers a wide variety of brand name products at discount prices in an environment that is bright, cheerful, and inviting."
Bottom Dollar features more prepackaged items than a typical supermarket does; and customers bag their own groceries. The stores also use alternative display and stocking techniques that are considered more efficient and cost-effective, such as cut cases on shelves, and pallets and dump bins on the floor.
"From the first two test stores, we have been hearing positive comments from customers saying they really love the concept," Anderson said. "Because we have six times more products on our shelves than a typical discount grocer, many people have said they are impressed with the wide selection of fresh items and name brand products we offer. And, since the store is all about best prices, everyone is happy to get the most value for their dollar."
Bottom Dollar stores are decorated in an atypical fashion, using bright orange and lime green; employees wear uniforms in the same colors. The atmosphere is light and cheerful. Signs dot the store, with messages such as, "Food prices that kick bottom," and "Watch your step ... you might trip on the low prices." Employees also share in the fun, wearing T-shirts that read, "I'm a black belt in price chopping."
In center store are Bottom Bargains bins where customers can find hot deals on market overruns, seasonal items, or special offerings, on a "while-supplies-last" basis.
Food Lion said it will look to its customers for feedback to continually tweak the format, as it has done with its experimental Bloom concept.
The company is also emphasizing that Bottom Dollar is not a replacement strategy for conventional Food Lion banner stores, but a "totally new brand that is uniquely positioned to fulfill the needs of an underserved consumer market."
Food Lion LLC, a subsidiary of Delhaize America, operates 1,300 supermarkets under the Food Lion, Bloom, Harveys, Reid's, and Bottom Dollar banners, in 11 Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.