The Fresh Grocer supermarket chain specializes in providing high-quality perishables in urban and suburban markets. “We are known for our perishables and prepared food business,” Burns says. “When we first started The Fresh Grocer brand in 1996, we had the flair of an open kitchen, prepared foods, chefs, and have been doing that now for 20 years. We have the theater of prepared foods and chefs, fresh deli meats and real meat cutters in the meat department. People come to us for their perishables.”
The ShopRite brand was founded in 1951 and has some of the highest volume stores in the supermarket industry today, serving seven million customers per week. The brand says it has built a reputation for being the low-price leader while offering unprecedented variety and customer service.
Each of the Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets caters to the neighborhood in which they are located. But there are a couple signature items The Fresh Grocer is known for, such as fresh pizza from the brick oven and the one-pound hoagie.
The markets also offer items popular in the community, such as Chinese food, sushi, organic salads and craft beer. “We were the first store in Pennsylvania to have a liquor license and we are now going after craft beer,” Burns says. “Our six-pack of individual craft beers is popular and we are just about to get into the wine business.”
Understanding what its customers want comes down to just paying attention, Burns says. “We listen, listen and listen,” he adds. “You have to constantly be listening to customers, talking to associates who are on the floor and asking them what people are looking for. Today, so many people want to talk instead of just listen.”
One of the things the Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets learned from its customers more than a decade ago was how challenging it could be to get a ride home from the market. “In some of our locations we offer people a ride home. In the city it’s tough to get back home because they don’t have the financial resources to do so,” Burns explains. “We offer free van ride homes to people in the inner city and have done so for a decade. We want to provide them a safe environment.”
Coming to Market
Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets operates seven grocery stores throughout the greater Philadelphia area. The company in August opened a new ShopRite location in Brookhaven, Pa., and plans to open two new Fresh Grocer locations in Pennsylvania, one at the end of September in Upper Darby Township and the other in November in Philadelphia’s Grays Ferry neighborhood.
The new 60,000-square-foot stores use LED lighting and a control system from Cold Technology that is based on customer traffic. “For example, if we have four checkout lanes open versus 20, the lighting in the store adjusts so we save on energy and electricity,” Burns explains. “There’s no need to have the store so bright. In one of our locations, we have saved 17 percent by controlling lighting during the ebb and flow of peak times.”
Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets is also installing a number of touch screen kiosks, more self-checkouts, digital menus and signage. The company has implemented a new online ordering platform in the last few years, which shoppers find very useful. “Online shopping has been huge,” Burns says. “It’s a terrific program, easy to navigate and customers can choose whether they want delivery or pick-up.”
Moving forward, Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets will continue to be the best it can be. “We want to grow and be a proud member of Wakefern to better compete in this market,” Burns says. “If we feel we can make a difference in a community we will open a new location. That’s our motto: ‘We make a difference.’”