Grocery Scene Sees Big Changes

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 12:00 am  

The father-and-son team of Steve, left, and Oral Edwards of Edwards Food Giant plan to concentrate on the quality of meats and customer service to earn a niche in the market.

The 3,073-SF store, which featured local and organic foods, "didn't have enough support," said Casey Pierce, one of its co-owners. "Nobody came in."

She declined to comment further on the closing and referred calls to the other owner, Holly Ingebo, who didn't return a call for comment.

"What really counts in this economy is, are you delivering the best value?" said Jim Hertel, managing partner of Willard Bishop LLC, a supermarket consultant in Barrington, Ill.

He said the winners are the stores that can provide the best price.


No Battles

Edwards Food Giant started in 1959 and focused on small towns across Arkansas and Mississippi. It had 16 stores at one time, but at the beginning of 2009, it had only four.

For at least three decades, the company wanted to open in more densely populated areas, but the opportunities weren't right, said Oral Edwards, who founded the grocery store chain and is a co-owner with his son, Steve Edwards.

After Affiliated Foods began liquidating its locations, however, several of its stores became available.

"This Affiliated Foods opportunity was a huge deal for us," said Steve Edwards. "We had studied them for a long time and picked what we thought were the best stores that would work for us."

He said the stores had been neglected and Edwards spent "several million" in inventory and remodeling the stores. (Edprop Development Co. LLC, led by Steve Edwards, bought the former Harvest Foods on Main Street for $1.75 million and paid $1.25 million for the one on Stagecoach Road. BancorpSouth Bank of Tupelo, Miss., provided a five-year loan for each amount to finance the purchases. The other two Edwards locations are leased.)

Edwards' first Little Rock store opened at 1701 Main St. in June.  



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