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The Grand Rapids Press has a nice profile of GFS Marketplace, the cash-and-carry-style operation operated by Gordon Food Service, which has grown to 142 stores in nine states without getting much notice; in terms of locations, GFS actually has more stores in Michigan than Spartan Stores.

According to the story, “Stores open in markets where the company’s main business of food distribution is thriving. The retail operation supports that business.

“For the most part, growth began throughout the Midwest but expanded into Florida in 2003 when Gordon Food Service acquired nine stores from the Smart & Final chain and the California-based company’s Henry Lee food service direct business.

“GFS Marketplace’s customer base is a mix of commercial buyers and individuals. But the retailer continues to draw regular shoppers looking to pick up food and supplies for special events from graduations to holiday parties ... GFS Marketplace sells bulk foods like a Sam’s Club or Costco but without the membership fee. The stores, small by grocery standards, are intended to make it easy for commercial customers to quickly pick up items.

“Its 15,000-square-foot format is similar in size to Aldi stores. GFS Marketplace emphasizes customer service. Staff will take orders to cars or help create party menus.”
KC's View:
I had a chance to visit a GFS store recently in Ohio, and was impressed ... especially because it was a company I’d never really heard of before.

Here’s the thing. This is an example of the kind of company that can sneak up on you, steal away revenue, and siphon off customers before you even know they are gone.

A lot of people smarter than me believe that the next great competitor in the supermarket space will be a company that most folks have never even heard of. Which certainly sounds possible to me.