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California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports on the moves being made by a single-store independent food retailer in the face of toughening competition.

According to the story, Claremont, California’s Wolfe’s Market is dealing with a new Sprouts Farmers Market and a soon-to-be-opened Trader Joe’s. And so, the company is dramatically reducing its dependence on packaged grocery, eliminating most of the grocery aisles and focusing more strenuously on lunch, dinner and deli services, as well as an expanded seafood selection. The goal, he said, will be to focus on the things not offered by the competition.

"Wolfe's started out as a cafe, a little market, and a gas station, a service station," said owner Tom Wolfe said. "It's changed so many times over the years, adapting to the various business climates, changes in technologies, distribution systems for groceries."
KC's View:
Another Thomas Wolfe once wrote a novel called “You Can’t Go Home Again,” which is sort of a metaphor for the inevitability of change and the importance of moving forward. That’s what Wolfe’s is doing – and I’m intrigued by the idea that it will virtually abandon much of its grocery business because it knows that’s not where it is truly competitive. I wonder how many other stores should make the same decision. I wonder how many would have the courage to do so.

It is worth pointing out, by the way, that Wolfe’s sounds like an important element in that community. The paper writes that “City officials have long recognized the importance to the community of Wolfe's Market, and been careful not to make planning decisions that threaten its economic health. The market, which was constructed in 1927, is listed on the city's Register of Sites of Historic or Architectural Merit.”

That’s a pretty good starting point.