Taking Stock

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 Local Notes

While it was certainly major news in itself that The Fresh Grocer will be joining Wakefern as its 50th ShopRite member, there are a few important sidebars related to this move to recognize. Not only is Wakefern adding
a solid and established merchant into its fold (about $165 million in annual retail sales), it now will also control The Fresh Grocer trademark, a potentially useful name and differentiated format (smaller size, perishables-driven) to attract prospective new members and offer existing ones an alternative growth option. Conversely, the loss of The Fresh Grocer is a big hit for Supervalu’s eastern region, which will lose its second largest independent banner. In speaking with owner Pat Burns about the shift, he emphasized the move was primarily driven by Wakefern’s opportunity to afford him long-term security as well as new programs and opportunities. And when asked, he went out of his way to praise the management team at Supervalu-Eastern (particularly president Kevin Kemp and senior VP Joe Della Noce). He also admitted that Supervalu’s corporate problems and challenges (mainly created by the previous Jeff Noddle and Craig Herkert regimes) were factors in his decision to leave Supervalu…Acme has re-upped its sponsorship deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, president Jim Perkins and senior VP Dennis Clark announced at a meeting of Acme’s vendors on August 15. Both men noted they are excited about the new arrangement and promised new and more flexible opportunities for vendor interaction. Acme’s Little Egg Harbor store (officially located in Tuckerton, NJ) sold one of the three winning $448 million national Powerball lottery tickets earlier this month. Ironically, Acme was not the only New Jersey supermarket to have sold a winning ducat in the fourth largest lottery prize in U.S. history. Stop & Shop’s South Brunswick (Dayton) unit also sold a winning ticket, giving New Jersey three Powerball wins in less than a year and making it the sixth time in 2012 that New Jersey has scored a top-multi-state prize, said Carole Hedinger, executive director of the Garden State’s lottery. “New Jersey isn’t just ‘Jersey Strong,’ it’s ‘Jersey Lucky,’ ” she added. For selling one of the winning lottery tickets, both Stop & Shop and Acme will receive a $30,000 bonus…industry veteran Don Ciotti (Genuardi’s, Wal-Mart) has left Bottom Dollar Foods (BDF) as director of operations and has joined Giant Eagle’s Good Cents Grocery + More discount division in a similar capacity. Ciotti, who joined BDF when it opened its first Delaware Valley store in King of Prussia, PA in 2010, will now go to work for one of the unit of Delhaize America’s
chief rivals and the largest grocer in the Pittsburgh/Youngstown market. Ironically, after a recent lull in new store activity, DBF opened new stores in Souderton, PA and Homestead, PA on August 15. Last month, it also
opened a discount unit in Woodbury, NJ…multiple sources indicate that Amazon has acquired the former C&S warehouse in Avenel, NJ (which until about 18 months ago supplied A&P and Pathmark stores). The 560,000 square foot facility is expected to become the distribution hub for ‘Amazon Fresh,’ which our sources say will enter the Metro NY market next year (watch out FreshDirect and Peapod). The Seattle based internet monster is also building one of the largest depots in the Garden State. Currently under construction in Robbinsville is a one million square foot facility which will be positioned to serve the company’s core business for the entire Mid-Atlantic region. The DC is scheduled to open in early 2014…the ageless Bernie Kenny and his team at Delaware Supermarkets will open their sixth ShopRite on August 25 in Glasgow, DE. The former Super Fresh and Pathmark location has been expanded to 73,000 square feet and will be the second ShopRite operated by the company along the U.S. Route 40 corridor …there are several obits to report this month including the sudden passing of Rick Sciulla at age 58. Rick was director of seafood for Weis Markets and a person I have known for many years dating back to his career at Ahold USA. An extremely hard worker with a great personality, Rick will be missed. Sorry to hear of the death of former Philadelphia Eagles owner Jerry Wolman, the Shenandoah, PA
(Schuylkill County) high school dropout who amassed a huge real estate empire (which included developing the 100-story John Hancock Center in Chicago – at the time the world’s second tallest building – and building the Spectrum in South Philly) before buying the Iggles in 1963 (he paid $5.5 million for controlling interest in the team). He owned the team until 1969 (it was acquired in bankruptcy by Leonard Tose) when his real estate fortunes nosedived and his debt reached $72 billion. Although he exuded great passion for his home team, Wolman’s six year run as owner of the Eagles was not a successful one, with only the 1966 team ending the season with a winning record (9-5). In fact, in his last full year of ownership in 1968, the team rumbled, bumbled and fumbled themselves to an NFL-worst 2-12 record. Among the lowlights of Wolman’s tenure were the trading away of Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen to the Redskins for Norm Snead and the 15 year contract given to Joe Kuharich as general manager and coach of the team (for all the old guys reading this, remember the “Joe Must Go” placards at old Franklin Field). Wolman, who resided for many years in Potomac, MD was 86…Also passing on was JJ Cale, one of the most unsung, yet influential rock and roll guitarists and songwriters of the past generation. Cale, 74, rarely toured and issued only about a dozen albums in a career that dates back more than 40
years, yet is one of those unusual figures who gained more respect from his industry peers than from the public. His best known songs were “After Midnight,” “Cocaine,” (both made famous by Eric Clapton) and “Call Me the Breeze,” (a big hit for Lynyrd Skynyrd). Neil Young, certainly one of the most iconic figures in rock history, stated in his biography “Shakey” that Cale and Jimi Hendrix were the best guitar players he ever heard. I was sorry to hear of the death of Dennis Farina, 69, the one-time Chicago cop who became one of the leading character actors of the past 25 years. Among his many memorable roles, my favorite is his portrayal of Ray “Bones” Barboni, a bumbling, profane and hilarious Miami mobster in the great underappreciated movie “Get Shorty” (1995). And finally, passing away at age 97 was Page Morton Black. Many of you may not know who Page Morton Black is, but for the record she was the wife of Bill Black, the late CEO of Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee. The former professional entertainer is best known for singing the Chock Full o’ Nuts theme song (“Chock Full o’ Nuts is that Heavenly Coffee…”). Beyond that, my memory of Page Black was an unannounced visit to her estate in the Premium Point section of New Rochelle, NY made by my now retired partner, Dick Bestany, retired food broker David Finkelstein and myself. Finkelstein’s business partner, John Kluge, owned the estate adjacent to Page Black’s manse and, on a hot August night after a full day of fortification, the three off us decided to randomly pop in on Page who was a friend of Finkelstein’s. I’ll have to tell you the rest of the story in person, because what ensued
proved to be one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life.