By GRETCHEN METZ firstname.lastname@example.org
BIRMINGHAM - Giant Food's Chadds Ford store was expanded by 13,000 square feet, big enough to add a beer garden along with a big helping of 2013 supermarket technology.
Located in Dilworthtown Crossing at Route 202 and Dilworthtown Road, the 11-year old store is not ancient by supermarket standards. Still, it wasn't state-of-the-art either.
Giant's investment in the expansion was made to provide 'our customer with a 21st-century experience,' said Christopher Brand, Giant spokesman.
Financial details were not disclosed.
The store underwent a six-month remodel, going from 54,300 square feet to 67,300 square feet.
One of those features, a Beer Garden and Eatery complete with available Wifi, opened in September.
There was also demand for more shelf space for healthy, organic products.
Nature's Promise, Giant's store brand for natural and organic products, has 'exploded,' Brand explained. Along with that, the demand for gluten-free products is on the rise.
Ten years ago, there were a few gluten-free item scattered throughout the store, now the store has 40 feet of shelf space for that line of products, the spokesman said.
'Organic produce, gluten-free products, it's all about striking a balance between what the customer wants and the space that we had,' Brand explained.
In addition, wine and beer, which play well with food, are now offered to make Giant a one-stopping experience for customers, Brand added.
The most compelling reason for the expansion is updating the technology in the store.
Milk used to be on shelves, then it went into refrigerated cabinets with glass doors. But those glass doors needed a heater inside to clear the fog that appeared when customers reached in for their gallon of moo juice. A heater inside a refrigerated box was a big energy expense, Brand said. Today's technology clears the glass doors without the need for a heater.
That adds to the efficiency of the store and so do the new LED lights that are longer-lasting and are expected to reduce wattage by half. Both bring down the cost of operations and those savings are passed on to the customer, Brand said.
Customers will benefit directly from technology at the Shopping Solutions kiosks, situated as customers enter the store.
The device allows customers to use the interactive touch-screen to check personalized BonusCard savings offers, print coupons, locate an item in the store, get a recipe for the product and place an order for the deli or a party tray.
'You scan your bonus card, order from the deli, by the time you finish getting your produce the deli order is ready and waiting on the deli counter,' Brand said. 'You grab it, boom, you're done.'
The Chadds Ford store has 174 employees.
Headquartered in Carlisle, Giant/Martin's operates nearly 200 grocery stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, including 10 in Chester County. It is the 9th largest employer in the county, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.
Giant/Martin's is one of the top 10 fund-raisers in the country for local Children's Miracle Network hospitals.
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