Alpha 1 Marketing helps more than 250 stores across the New York City Metropolitan area address these challenges. Alpha 1 Marketing is an affiliate of grocery wholesaler Krasdale Foods, which has provided groceries to the region since 1908.
“Krasdale Foods sells the groceries – Alpha 1 Marketing’s job is to sell the groceries to the consumer,” Wallin says.
“We provide marketing, merchandising, pricing, weekly ad programs and other services an owner needs to take care of their store,” Wallin adds. “Our motto is: ‘We’ll help you so you can help your customers.”
Alpha 1 and Krasdale Foods work with the owners and operators of stores under the C-Town Supermarkets, Bravo Supermarkets and Association of Independent Markets (A.I.M.) banners.
C-Town Supermarkets started 40 years ago in direct response to the closure of A&P and other New York City chain stores. The departure of these stores left many neighborhoods without a supermarket, which in turn led to a decline in other businesses. The arrival of independent grocers under the C-Town name allowed many neighborhoods to “turn the lights back on” in terms of business, Wallin says.
Bravo Supermarkets was initially established in the 1990s to cater specifically to the needs of the Hispanic and other ethnic communities. The stores have since broadened their product line while still largely serving these populations, he adds.
The A.I.M. banner was created as a way for independent markets to retain their own names while still receiving centralized services.
According to Wallin, Krasdale Foods supplies more than 12,000 private-label and national brand products to its member stores from a centralized distribution center located in the Bronx.
Meeting Individual Needs
Each of the stores under the C-Town, Bravo and A.I.M. banners serves distinct neighborhoods and customer bases.
“Our strategy is to have stores that fit the neighborhood they are in and reacting to anything an owner needs to help them grow their business and give customers what they want at a fair price,” Wallin says.
Krasdale Foods supplies the stores with products that are most in-demand in their neighborhoods, while Alpha 1 Marketing works closely with individual storeowners on their marketing and circular programs. “Owners can make changes to their individual ad program,” he adds. “We don’t have a cookie-cutter approach – everyone doesn’t have to run exactly the same program; they can make changes that best suit their neighborhood.”
Alpha 1 Marketing assigns a retail counselor to each store who visits that store on a weekly basis and addresses any concern or issue an owner may have. These counselors are available on a 24/7 basis. “The retail counselor is the owner’s first line of defense,” Wallin says. “If the counselor wants to get a problem fixed, they can speak to our meat, produce, deli or other department specialists.”
Retail counselors also help owners open new stores. That includes determining the viability of prospective sites based on location and demographics. Once a new location is selected, Alpha 1 assists in set-up, merchandising and DSD vending. “We provide guidance to help make owners successful,” Wallin adds.
Alpha 1 oversees the opening of between 15 to 20 stores a year. In addition to the New York City locations, there are stores elsewhere in the state as well as in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. “Our store owners expanded from the New York City area seeking locations that are more reasonable in terms of rent and length of lease,” Wallin says. In the past 10 years, with the guidance of Alpha 1 Marketing, store owners have expanded into the Florida market. Alpha 1 has helped open more than 40 stores in the Florida market operating under the Bravo banner.
‘The Best People’
Alpha 1 Marketing has in recent years expanded its technological capabilities to better serve storeowners and operators. That includes establishing a division that sells and maintains front-end sales systems, as well as offering a program that enables owners to see every deal offered by the direct-store delivery (DSD) vendor community.
“Our goal is to have independent operators compete with chain and big-box stores by offering better service, fair prices and one-stop shopping,” Wallin adds.
Alpha 1 also offers stores to our store owners a card-based customer loyalty program that grants special deals and discounts to frequent customers.
All of Alpha 1 Marketing’s offerings are made possible by its staff, many of whom have 20 to 30 years of experience in the supermarket industry. The company has very little turnover, which helps it build strong relationships.
“The person you dealt with in the past is generally the same person you’ll be dealing with in the future,” Wallin says. “We hire the best people in the industry, and that shows.”