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shoprite_albany_exterior_2012-04-24.jpg

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New carts.

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A remote deli ordering station near the door.

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Using an infrared thermometer to check the temp of the cheese.

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Villa Italia products in the bakery section. ShopRite reps say they're trying to include a bunch of local products in their offerings.

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The bakery workspace.

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There was a surprising amount of wild-caught fish.

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Almost half this aisle is gluten-free products.

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The most orderly cereal aisle ever. That won't last long.

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The international aisle includes cookware (and rice cookers).

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Back of the store.

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The inside of the pickup area for the shop at home service.

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A reminder for shop-at-home associates.

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Front of the store.

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Outside, right side of the building (if you're facing the building from the street).

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Checking out the new Albany ShopRite

albany shoprite exterior

We can safely report: it's a modern supermarket.

The new Albany ShopRite opens this Thursday. If the opening of the Niskayuna location is any indication, the scene will probably be a zoo. Such is the product of the Capital Region's apparent supermarket obsession.

We were invited to check out the new Albany store today, and went for two reasons: 1) to gawk at perfectly stocked aisles and 2) to maybe find out why ShopRite has decided to build four stores in the Albany area -- and why now.

If you just want to see photos of the store, they're in large format above -- scroll all the way up.

ShopRite is betting big on the Capital Region. The Albany location will be its second store here. There's also an in-construction store in Slingerlands, and a fourth store planned for the village of Colonie.

The supermarket business is notoriously tough -- profit margins are something on the order of one percent. Chains make money by doing volume, and lots of it. So a company doesn't invest millions of dollars on a cluster of stores in a new area unless it thinks it can make significant dent in the market there.

So, what did ShopRite see in the Capital Region?

"We felt there was a great opportunity here. ... Based on the demographics and the excitement [for new options], it seemed like the right time," said Tom Urtz, ShopRite's VP of human resources and community affairs, to us today while store employees unpacked and arranged produce around us.

Urtz said the company has been looking to expand in recent years, and it's had success in the Hudson Valley. That prompted it to research the Capital Region, a process that included focus groups. And what did people in the focus groups want? "People were looking for competition and friendly service."


ShopRite locations -- open, in construction, or planned -- (yellow) and nearby Price Chopper locations (blue)

ShopRite is aiming to bring significant levels of both those things. Its choice of locations in the Capital Region has indicated an apparent desire to mix it up with the established players here, Price Chopper above all:
+ The Niskayuna store is down Balltown Road from a Price Chopper, and essentially right in the Golub Corp's backyard.
+ The Albany location is just down the street from the Westgate Chopper (and a Hannaford).
+ The Colonie location is down the road from the "green"/"kosher" Chopper.
+ And the Slingerlands location is literally right across the street from the Chopper there.

ShopRite officials went out of their way today to emphasize they that their strategy isn't necessarily aimed at going right after Price Chopper. But it's hard to see the locations as a coincidence.

Differentiation

ShopRite is also hoping customer service will help make it stand out from the competition. "The point of differentiation is [our] associates," Urtz said today, explaining that the company's training has focused on creating a positive and accommodating customer experience.

Another effort toward customer service: ShopRite from Home, its personal shopping service for pickup or delivery (see Craig's experience using it). Urtz said the service has been very popular in Niskayuna -- "exceeded expectations" -- and the company has been able to fold some of the lessons it's learned there in to the Albany store. The new location's design aims to highlight the service and make it easier to get in and out -- there's a separate entrance on the side of the building, and covered parking.

The personal shopping service is a good example of how the competition from ShopRite is already changing the market. Price Chopper introduced a similar service -- Shops4U -- at its Niskayuna store shortly after the arrival of ShopRite. And it recently expanded the service to... yep, you guessed it... its Westgate location. It'll be interesting to see how the competition continues to play out.

Urtz said today that ShopRite's current plan for the Capital Region is four stores. But they're always "exploring opportunities."

Old is new?

Sort of. As a lot of people probably remember, this isn't the first time the ShopRite brand has had a presence in the Capital Region. There were a few stores here that closed in the 1980s. ShopRite officials told us today those earlier stores were owned by a member of the cooperative that backs ShopRite stores. These new stores are owned by the corporation itself.

Store gawking

After poking around the store's various departments and browsing its aisles, we can safely report the Albany ShopRite is a modern supermarket. Sure, it's all shiny and new, but there's nothing significantly different about this store compared to any recent Hannaford/Price Chopper/whatever. That said, it is nice.

The Albany location is 65,000 square feet -- about 10,000 square feet larger than the Niskayuna location.

There are a bunch of large-format photos at the top of this page -- scroll all the way up.

Earlier

Daniel shopped the Niskayuna location the day it opened last October -- a lot of what he saw will probably apply to the Albany location.

Also: Where the supermarkets are -- and aren't -- in the Capital Region.

Find It

ShopRite Albany
711 Central Ave
Albany, NY 12206

Comments

Thanks for this. The background info is much more interesting than the typical "Oooh, look at the stuff they let us sample!" reports that I'm sure they were aiming for. Great investigative work.

It's an OCD paradise!

they had me with remote ordering for the deli. that is the most time-consuming, irritating part of grocery shopping for me.

But how are the prices? That's the first thing I want to know about any grocery store -- are they cheaper than/more expensive than Price Chopper or Hannaford? And do they operate on the Hannaford keep-all-of-the-prices-low model, or the Price Chopper jack-up-the-prices-but-have-a-few-cheap-things-with-a-loyalty-card model?

I'm originally from the Newburgh/Poughkeepsie area and there are usually two or more supermarkets within 2 miles of each other, which has lead to crazy double and triple coupon deals and some great sales. When I moved to Albany, this completely changed as Price Chopper basically has a monopoly on the market. For the most part I think that Hannaford aims at a different demographic, kind of our region's Wegmans (and a poor excuse at that.) Hopefully in a few months we'll see the results of this competition as ShopRites start opening up.

the timing, location and quantity of Shop Rites arriving in the Capital District can only mean one thing:

Wegmans is coming.

Crazy, you say? Is it a new thing that people in this area are looking for "competition and friendly service"?
um. yeah. no.

There must be some buzz in the "Grocer's Monthly" trade journal that Wegmans is sniffing around and SR wants to gain some customer loyalty while the gaining is good.
don't be surprised....

scene will probably be a zoo

Wait till you see Trader Joe's opening

Great coverage as usual!
Heard they will have Boar's Head deli.
I don't care for it.
That means my favorite Sara lee will be shut out, love their Bavarian, honey baked ham.
Didn't care for the slippery floors, or lights with glare.

I really didn't care about this store opening (except for all the extra traffic it will cause me to drive through on my way home) untiiiiill seeing that remote deli station thing. HELLO DREAM STORE!

Also: if Shop Rite wants to open a store to compete with / ideally replace the Delaware Ave Albany Price Chopper, that would be greeeeat.

Observing flyers SR generally cheaper then PC and close to Hannaford I notice they do 3 for or 5 for...

The hype around Shop Rite is amazing remember they walked away from the capital region. Certainly Shop Rite will take away customers from PC but PC does that well on their own. Don't think Hannaford, or speciality markets will lose after the inital grand opening.

ShopRite should open in Defreestville at Route 4 & 43. There's a creepy shopping-center like parking lot with no retail -- "all dressed up and nowhere to go."

I will probably check out the store, but I really do love my Hannaford. I think the only thing that could really keep me coming back to Shop Rite consistently is if they were to stock Palermo's Biscuits and Gravy breakfast pizza (http://www.palermospizza.com/breakfast-pizza/biscuits-and-gravy.aspx)...something impossible to find in this area. Although, like the other commenter noted, that deli order screen is a brilliant idea...that might be worthy of repeat visits from me as well.

The store is fresh and beautiful now but there are some real floor plan problems. To exit the store at the left end of the registers you have to make a sharp right turn into a doorway, then another immediate right turn in a tight space to exit through the door. Who designs a U-turn to be negotiated by loaded shopping carts?

I hope you build a store up in SARATOGA!!! that would be so nice!!!

It is pretty clear the the ShopRite parent company WANTS Price Chopper in the co-op or as a purchase. This is why they are putting pressue on the chain by building stores near or across the street. Also note that the Shop Rite stores are slightly smaller which would make them easier to close in case of a merger. Price Chopper has been tough to go it alone against WalMart and Food Lion but this can't go on forever. I am guessing that PC will be part of Wakefern within 5 years.

@Eric Scheirer thats because it wasnt designed for customers to exit through that door..they were put there for Loss Prevention..whose office is the door next to it

I'm still sticking with Honest Weight for most everything, but will use the new SR for those things that HW doesn't carry. SR is unionized, which means it's my new #2 after HW.

Thanks Gaza...but the floor plan still stinks. Since they built the whole store from the ground up why did they have to make it so tight and cramped- was there a restriction on the size?

I am very excited to see ShopRite stores returning to the Albany region of NYS for the first time since the late 1980s. With Grand Union totally out of the picture, and with the ways ShopRite has improved the way they operate, Niskayuna, Albany, Slingerlands, and Colonie for locations is not enough. I hope ShopRite will open stores in East-North Greenbush, Latham, Scotia-Glenville, Clifton Park, Ballston Spa-Malta, Saratoga Springs-Wilton, Queensbury, Amsterdam, even areas like North Troy and Menands. There are more people living in the Albany region than in the 1970s and 1980s. ShopRite should hit these locations later this decade through next decade at the latest!!! More supermarkets like these mean more jobs and store variety!!! So far, so great!!

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