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Tom Leonard, the second son of retailing icon Stew Leonard, has opened his own version of the legendary market in Richmond, Virginia. While he emphasizes that the 15,000-square-foot Tom Leonard’s Farmer’s Market is an independent operation, he tells the Richmond Times Dispatch that the family-owned chain – which has two stores in Connecticut, one in Yonkers, NY, and another slated to open on New York’s Long Island – has helped him in a “big brother” sort of way.

The store currently is primarily devoted to produce, with some dairy and grocery. Leonard tells the paper that he plans to open a bakery by autumn, and suggests that he will add other departments as appropriate, noting that the original Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk, CT, has been expanded 28 times.
KC's View:
We happened to be in Richmond earlier this week, and had a chance to visit Tom Leonard’s, and our first impression that this store is to the original Stew Leonard’s what Mini-Me is to Austin Powers.

It’s an interesting marketing experiment. While Tom Leonard says that “this is not a Stew Leonard's down South,” the logo uses the same colors and font…and there is a reproduction out front of the gigantic boulder that is outside all the Stew Leonard stores, proclaiming that “the customer is always right” and signed by Stew Leonard. The building style is identical, if a lot smaller than the original stores, and the layout uses the same directed traffic flow used in the Connecticut and New York stores. While the milk is labeled “Tom Leonard’s,” the cheese and coffee has Stew Leonard’s name…as do the plastic bags used at the front end.

So the messages are mixed.

We have to imagine that this will be a tough battle for Tom Leonard, if for no other reason that are is a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a Kroger within a few blocks, and a couple of outstanding Ukrop’s stores within a few miles. So Tom Leonard’s has to grapple with tough competition, a location that is set way back off the road behind a Best Buy, and a marketing message that is somewhat mixed.