TSD Memphis

Sat04192014

Business

<br />Midtown Piggly Wiggly becomes Cash Saver on April Fool’s Day

The recession has hit Rick James’ customers in the wallet, where it hurts the most. Families that put national brands in the grocery cart a few years ago are picking up generic brands today to save money. The recession has hit Rick James’ customers in the wallet, where it hurts the most. Families that put national brands in the grocery cart a few years ago are picking up generic brands today to save money.

Memphians are working harder to get the most from every dollar, said James, president of Castle Retail Group, which owns Midtown Piggly Wiggly at 1620 Madison.  That is why he and his staff are re-branding the store – one of the city’s oldest, continuously operating businesses – to increase its appeal to value-conscious shoppers.

On Wednesday (March 30) the Midtown Piggly Wiggly closed its doors so employees and suppliers could re-price every item in stock. When the 62,000-square-foot store reopens on Friday, April 1 – April Fools’ Day – the store will have lower prices and a new name: Cash Saver Cost Plus Food Outlet.

However, the new prices inside are no April Fools’ joke, but rather part of a new business model and discount pricing strategy. When Cash Saver opens, its customers will be able to buy groceries at cost, with an additional 10 percent added at a point of purchase, James said. Unlike big discounters such as Costco and Sam Club’s, it will not require membership or fees to shop.

“There is not going to be a lot of changes inside the store,” James said. “A new sign in the front of the building, and signage inside to help customers understand how this pricing works for them. We are not going the change the look of the building. We have got to contain our costs. This is not about fixtures. It is not about adding an extra coat of paint. It is about getting customers the best prices we can.”

Here’s how it works:  

Let’s say a loaf of bread is priced at $1.49, which is the price James pays for it. Ten percent, in this case (15 cents) is added to the price, which means the customer would pay $1.64. James said the same item might sell elsewhere for $1.89 to $1.99.

Castle is banking on the lower prices pulling in more shoppers and that those customers will buy more of their groceries in James’ store. Right now, with so many supermarkets in the area, customers often turn grocery shopping into a weekend sprint, rushing from store to store to find the best deals, James said.

“Our goal is to find the very best value for consumers and provide it in one location,” he said.  “We are anticipating that consumers in Memphis are going to see they don’t have to drive all the way out to the suburbs.”

The three remaining Piggly Wiggly stores – which are also owned by Castle – will continue to operate at 4049 Elvis Presley, 3071 S. Perkins and 3237 Winchester.   Piggly Wiggly is well known in the African American community for its array of African American hair care products and food brands, such as Glory Foods, a pre-seasoned, Southern style line of vegetables.

James said the lines of ethnic products grew over time as employees brought customer recommendations to him.

“I listen to the people who listen to my customers,” said James, adding that his stores were among the first in the area to advertise vegetables from Glory Foods, an African-American owned company. The vegetables sell well in his stores, and now are popular with many Southerners.  

“I like the black-eyed peas,” James said.

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