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ST. LOUIS, Mo. - On the heels of last week's unveiling of its first Collierville, Tenn. store built from the ground up, Schnuck Markets, Inc. is aggressively embarking on Phase II of its Mid-South expansion plans.
The 63,000-square-foot food and drug combo store, which anchors the new Collierville Crossing shopping center, is the chain's first Memphis location to open, two years after the St. Louis-based retailer acquired Seessel's Supermarkets.
The Collierville location marks the first of three new Schnucks stores that will open in Memphis in the next several months, spokeswoman Lori Willis told Progressive Grocer. A store at Stonebridge Crossing will follow this fall, while a replacement store for the Germantown Schnucks will debut in late 2004. The company recently announced plans to open a fourth new location, in Olive Branch, according to Willis, which will open sometime in 2005.
Describing the company's Mid-South strategic program as being "right on track," Willis reviewed details of the chain's acquisition of Seessel's in May 2002: "We entered the market with 12 stores, one of which was closed shortly after the acquisition." Part of Phase I, she continued, included the immediate renovation and remodeling of all stores.
"We embarked on the store upgrades quickly, including the transformation of the store name from Seessel's to Schnucks in a 52-hour transition period," according to Willis. "Now, just after the eve of our second year in the market, we are embarking upon Phase II of our plan -- which was announced about 11 months ago -- with the opening of our new Collierville store."
The retailer's Collierville store team -- led by manager Dan Dettmer, a 34-year Schnucks associate, Thad Nathaniel, co-manager, and Carla Marr, customer service manager -- "is certainly excited by the response from customers," said Willis, noting that the grand opening exceeded expectations.
Company officials were especially gratified by the extraordinary customer feedback they received during the days spanning the grand opening festivities, added Willis. "Customer reactions were just unbelievable. Shoppers were very quick to stop every member of our team and offer congratulations on the completion of the beautiful store, and thank us for coming to their town."
The extraordinary level of interaction between customers, company officials, and the new store's leadership team, she said, "just gave us a great feeling all day long. Many of us were visiting from our corporate office in St. Louis, and to see how receptive the customers were to our new Collierville store made us feel very welcome in the Mid-South."
The new Collierville Schnucks showcases fruits, vegetables, and other perishables displayed "open market" style in a distinctive format featuring vaulted ceilings and archways. It's the first of its kind among Schnucks Mid-South stores, said Willis, adding that the store includes a full-service florist, an in-store pharmacy, and an in-store bakery specializing in custom cake decorating. The location also features a cold beverage bar, a deli and grill with a separate cash register and seating section, a service seafood department, and a hot- and cold-food and salad bar.
Schnuck Markets currently operates 100 stores (including five Logli stores) and 93 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Collierville is the company's 101st store and the 12th in the Mid-South.
-- Meg Major