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Kenneth “Ken” Herman, who, with his older brother, Irving, founded what ultimately became the Shoppers Food & Pharmacy supermarket chain in Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and Virginia, has died at the age of 92. The Washington, D.C., native passed away on June 21.
Although they had run several grocery stores since 1929, the Herman brothers began the forerunner of Shoppers in 1949 as Jumbo Food Stores, introducing the warehouse supermarket concept to Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area. After a name change to Shoppers Food Warehouse, the chain grew to more than 30 stores, prompting other operators in the region to copy the format.
In 1988, Ken Herman brought in the Dart Group to buy 50 percent of the business and help with expansion. Dart CEO Herbert Haft was eventually bought out, and Richfood later bought Dart from Ken Herman for the growing Shoppers chain, which by that time had entered Maryland.
Currently owned by Supervalu, Shoppers now consists of 56 stores. Ken Herman was inducted into the Maryland Food Industry Hall of Fame in 2003.
“Shoppers still exists today because of the tools that Ken Herman set in place: high volume and low prices in a warehouse-style format,” noted industry observer Jeremy Diamond, whose family operated the Baltimore-area Food-A-Rama chain.
Survivors include Ken Herman’s wife of 33 years, Rhoda; a sister, Florence Kossow; four children and three stepchildren; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.