business news in context, analysis with attitude

Good piece in the Boston Globe about how Acton, Massachusetts, a community just northwest of Boston, has become a hotbed of supermarket competition, with three retailers – Stop & Shop, Roche Bros., and Donelan’s – all playing hardball.

Roche Bros., for example, “was the talk of the town when it came to Acton in 1995, taking over space vacated by Finast. The new store wowed shoppers with an extensive array of hot to-go foods, no-tip carryouts, attractive decor, and a reputation for quality and service. Signs bearing the names of local streets marked the aisles and fostered a community-focused image.

“The current expansion, which is partially completed, includes a spacious new fresh produce area just inside the front door. It also creates room to bring other departments with prepared foods and perishables, such as the deli, bakery, and fish case, from the far side of the store to the area shoppers first encounter.”

Donelan’s also is aggressively updating its store offerings, plus offering “wine tastings, occasional live harp music, and shopping carts with attached play cars in which children can ride. The supermarket recently made a $12,000 donation to save the Acton fireworks, for which there is no money in the town budget this year.”

And to compete with these two smaller companies, Stop & Shop reportedly is looking at its options to see what it needs to do to in order to keep up. And all three companies are aware of the competitor that hasn’t come to town yet – Wal-Mart.
KC's View:
There’s nothing that makes competitors better than strong competition – if they’re willing to do what is necessary to create differential advantages for themselves, and are willing to play offense, not defense.

And you know who really is benefiting in this case? Acton’s consumers…who are being treated to food retailing that can stimulate as opposed to depress.

Next time we’re up that way, we’re going to swing by Acton. Sounds like it is worth the visit.