Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Giant Eagle Poised To Land In Cincinnati?

An article that appeared Thursday on TribLive stated that the real estate developer for Giant Eagle's grocery stores has sold a third of it's stock to an investment firm in a $294 million deal.  Such a deal opens up large amounts of cash which may be used for expansion... possibly into SouthWestern Ohio.

For those unaware, Giant Eagle is a regional grocery chain based in Pittsburgh, and currently has over 200 locations in Western PA and in Ohio as far South as Grove City.

Compared to Kroger, Giant Eagle has a more modern, youthful appeal and a very inviting store layout.  The Market District store(comparable to Kroger's super rare Fresh Fare concept) in the Upper Arlington neighborhood of Columbus offers a vast array of hot prepared foods, exotic meats, a station to make your own nut butter, and a stage for cooking demonstrations.  It blows the competition out of the water and is so nice, you could eat there for dinner with all the available seating.

In the past, Giant Eagle's CEO Laura Shapira Karet has said that the companies expansion strategy would be focused on building stores within its established geographic footprint, but that was well over a year ago.  Giant Eagle is pretty well saturated within Columbus, and Cleveland, leaving the Southern half of Ohio as the most logical step.

I know the perfect place for them.

The Kenwood Collection.

The Kenwood Collection used to be called Kenwood Town Place before there were issues with contractors being stiffed, which led to years of a rusty I-Beam eye-sore, which led to a foreclosure  and now... new developers with a new name.

This property sits on the edge of the massive Kenwood Town Center, featuring H & M, Apple, Oakley, Nordstom, and many other high end shops and restaurants.  This mall is never really slow, as the surrounding neighborhoods of Indian Hills, Silverton, and Montgomery feed it with throngs of affluent suburbanites.

The former Kenwood Town Place was the location of The Kroger Co's Fresh Fare concept, which featured greater meat, deli, and seafood selections as well as a wine tasting section and better prepared meal options.  Kroger pulled out citing low foot traffic, which if true, would have no doubt been due to the lack of progress made on the rest of the property.

The mall that shares land with the Kenwood Collection is currently being remodeled, and will no doubt bring more interest into the already busy mall.  People also visit retailers like The Container Store and Crate & Barrel that stuck with the Town Place project through the low times and will no doubt be a great compliment to whatever fills Kroger Fresh Fare's large square footage.

So all the high end, refreshed mall and the high end, back-on-track mixed use development is missing is Giant Eagle.

I'll admit that this may come off as biased and that's because it is.  I really want to see Giant Eagle come to Cincinnati.  The store is a refreshing change of pace from what you get from Kroger.  Also, Giant Eagles fuel rewards program is at least twice as good as Kroger's.  

While Kroger gives you 100 points for every $100 spent, equaling 10 cents off per gallon, Giant Eagle gives 10 cents off for every $50 spent. So not only are the rewards more straight forward, but you get twice as many.  Also, Giant Eagle offers a fuel perk bounty on certain sale items.  'Buy 4 boxes of cereal, get an extra 15 cents off'.  Where a big spender at Kroger can get a 40 cent discount in a month, you can easily get 3 times as many. Even better, and perhaps the best part is that Giant Eagle's fuel perks accumulate in a rolling 60 or 90 day period; whereas points don't combine between one month and the next at Kroger.

Naysayers will say that Kroger is too strong in Cincinnati, but I would say to them: 1. we already have Meijer, Walmart, Target(some have groceries now), Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Fresh, and Remke-Bigg's and 2. Giant Eagle does well in Columbus, a town lousy with Kroger locations.  So that doesn't matter.  Also The Kenwood Collection is located on I-71, making distribution a couple hours away from Grove City(the next closest location). 

Of course, I'm sure the folks who make expansion decisions for Giant Eagle will want to send multiple shipments of goods 100 miles further to service more than one location.  It's cool, I already have the 2nd location scouted.  As a currently unemployed person, I would be willing to offer my thoughts as a consultant to Giant Eagle at a competitive rate... 

PS... I'm poor.  This is a hard thing to say since most of my readers are fiercely self-reliant, 'up by the boot-straps types', but I was wondering if anyone noticed the PayPal Donate button on my blog?  I'm currently in between jobs and I'm getting behind enough to the point where I don't know how much longer I can stay in my meager apt.  

I'm not asking to be completely subsidized, I'm just asking that those who can, donate.  For my part, I will continue to look for work while posting more than I have been in the past.  I grew up on a hog farm with an outdoor toilet and a wood burning furnace, so hard work is something I grew up on. So while it's easy to grunt, 'Get a job!' and 'Get off yer ass!', please understand I am not a lazy person and I wouldn't so shamelessly promote the donate button if it wasn't getting serious. 

Hopefully, something good will come my way quickly, but until then, hope isn't paying the rent.  Thank you in advance for any donations, and to those who can't or won't donate, I still appreciate you taking the time to read this.


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