business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Boston Globe has a story about how independent grocery stores there "are worried about their livelihoods as big supermarket chains such as Wegmans and BJ’s Wholesale Club open more locations in Greater Boston neighborhoods. The arrival of new competition is particularly troubling for small grocers already struggling to gain market share in an industry dominated by large companies."

The story notes that next week Wegmans will open a new 80,000 square foot store - small by its standards - in Chestnut Hill, five minutes from a store called Baza Gourmet Foods and Spirits, owned by Andrian Shapiro.

"Shapiro said his store has competed with nearby Whole Foods and Shaw’s stores for the last six years by offering Eastern European foods his customers cannot find anywhere else," the Globe writes. "With a large produce section and many specialty counters, Baza resembles a smaller, Russian version of Wegmans. It is packed with counters serving smoked fish, meats, cheeses, sandwiches, and other prepared foods. A hot foods section serves duck wings and draniki, a Russian potato pancake. The bakery offers fresh khachapuri, a Georgian cheese bread, and smetannik, a Russian sour cream cake.

"But Wegmans’ reputation and emphasis on fresh produce prompted Shapiro to make changes in his store. He spent $200,000 on a liquor license last year and now serves a unique collection of Russian vodkas. The store also sells a variety of European beers like Leffe from Belgium, the German brand Bitburger, and Lezajsk of Poland.

"Shapiro also created a customer loyalty program that gives big spenders a small discount, and he recently introduced a grocery delivery service. He intends to run advertisements before Wegmans’ arrival, offering deals on produce, such as tomatoes for 99 cents a pound."
KC's View:
New entrants will make life difficult for everyone in Boston. But I am impressed with what Shapiro is doing - he's created new niches, offering new products and services, and promoting, promoting, promoting.

"Compete" is a verb.