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    Big Y Mulls Expansion: Report

    80-year-old family grocer could grow to 150 stores

    Big Y Foods, which now operates 63 stores throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts and employs 10,000 associates, could expand to 150 locations over the next 20 years, according to a report in the Springfield, Mass., Republican, the family-owned grocer’s hometown newspaper. Big Y is marking its 80th anniversary this year.

    Matt D’Amour, Big Y’s director of  store development, said that the grocer is considering adding more stores within its existing market area, as well as opening locations further east in Massachusetts, or in New Hampshire, Vermont or Rhode Island. "We've discussed all those possibilities," D'Amour told the paper. "Everything is on the table."

    Management also considered, but ultimately rejected, the type of rebranding rolled out by Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper, a fellow family-owned grocer currently in the midst of converting stores to the Market 32 banner. "We aren't going to do anything that radical," noted D'Amour, indicating that the Big Y name would remain on storefronts. The company plans to retain its own prototype concept, Fresh Acres, however. "We are going to keep that," he said of the Springfield store. "You are going to see aspects of Fresh Acres spun out into the rest of our stores."

    The company is also planning to offer alcohol in more of its stores.

    As for e-commerce, Big Y tried out a shop-from-home program in which customers chose groceries over the internet and then went to a store to pick them up, but it wasn’t a success. "I thought the online system was confusing," explained President and COO Charles L. D'Amour. "Also, people want to see, touch and smell their groceries. People don't want to pick out their lettuce and strawberries online."

    A delivery service doesn’t appear to be in the cards, either. "What we heard from customers is that they wouldn't want a stranger coming to their house," Charles D'Amour said.

    EVP Michael D'Amour noted, however, that the company might reconsider such services in the future as technology evolves.

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