ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
Although the sign outside still says “Jim’s Jack & Jill,” the grocery in Peabody is now officially the “Peabody Market.”
And new owner Rick Turner of Florence is busy putting his mark on the business.
The signs of change are visible as you walk into the store. Products are being moved right before your eyes, warehouse crew members are in the aisles retagging merchandise, new brands and labels and types of merchandise are available, and employees are dealing with the challenge of new products not yet loaded into the computer.
The sale became official April 14 when Turner took over the reigns from long time owner Jim Cox. Cox sold the store so that his wife, Marilyn, could pursue her dream of being a full-time pastor in the Methodist church, which required a move away from Peabody.
Turner has 27 years of experience in the grocery business. He has owned the Florence Market for 15 years, and before that he had a store in Buhler.
The store will be managed by Turner’s daughter and son-in-law, Kirstan and Matt Fredrick of Florence. The Fredericks have unusual credentials for being in the grocery business-they have both been airline pilots for America West.
“The airline industry is going to pot,” Turner said. “They were having to commute to Phoenix to work, and they decided it was either get out of the flying business or move to Phoenix.
“This store came up for sale, and they talked me into buying it,” he said. “They like living in a small town.”
This is the Fredricks’ first foray in the grocery business, but Turner will be there to guide them.
“It’s a joint effort,” he said.
Matt Fredrick is already hard at work at the Peabody Market, and Kirstan will be joining him in about a month.
Turner said their goal is to offer customers more variety. He has already started remodeling the store to expand the selling floor.
Fredrick said the building is being expanded by 14 feet on the south side, and an interior wall on the east side will be moved back 28 feet to also provide more floor space.
The new store entrance will face south, opening out on a parking lot that will be located south of the store in what is currently a vacant lot.
Matt said he would like to “face the building like the rest of the buildings downtown” to blend into Peabody’s historic 1880s main street, but that project may be down the road a bit.
Turner said they are adding all new cases and shelves. The shelves will be taller, he said, “raising the profile of the store so we can get more products.”
“That allows you to get that much more selection in the store,” he said. “When you are short on footage on your selling floor, you have to go up.”
The new produce case will be 36 feet long, as compared to the current 16 foot case.
“We’ll have 50 feet of dairy and smoked meats,” he added.
A service meat case will replace the current self-serve case, and there will be someone behind the meat counter
The store will be open throughout the remodeling, he said. They are trying to minimize the disruption to customers, but Turner admitted it will be a hectic couple months and hopes that customers stick with them through the inconvenience.
Fredrick said he expects the new cases to be installed within a month and the remodeling to be completed within two months.
They plan a grand-opening celebration when everything is completed. Although that date can’t be set yet, they are aiming for July 4, Turner said.
“It depends how far we get with this construction,” he said.
Eventually, they plan to add a deli and eat-in area, Fredrick said.
He also plans to expand the video and game section.
“We don’t have enough games,” he said. “We don’t have room right now, but we’ll have a much bigger video rack.”
The store will be offering free home delivery on Thursdays to people who can’t get out to go to the grocery Film developing service will also be available.
The store will carry the Shurfine store brand. Turner is also introducing some other brands that are new to the store, including Blue Bunny and Meadow Gold dairy products.
Turner said he intends to offer competitive prices.
“As they are tagging the store, they are seeing about 98 percent of the prices going down- some pretty significantly,” he said.
For example, Turner said a gallon of milk is about 20 cents less now
“We’re very competitive with Newton,” he said.
When some price comparisons were recently made at the new Wal Mart Supercenter in Newton, “there was not one price in meat that was cheaper,” he said.
Turner said meat has been his “calling card” in Florence.
“We have a 28 percent distribution in meat in Florence,” he said. The national average is 16 percent.”
The distribution is the percent of store volume in a particular product category.
“We run right up with the big stores in produce, too,” he said.
Turner said the Peabody store is now carrying about two thirds of the products carried by the Florence store.
“As we get going, we will keep adding products until we get at least where we are at Florence, and after the remodeling, we ought to be able to add even more.”
Hours at the store will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Turner said they had originally planned on being open until 7 p.m. but found “a lot of people like to shop later.”
Customers will still see familiar faces when they shop at the grocery. Turner offered positions to all the employees who had been working at the store.
Turner said he will be working full-time at the Peabody store “as long as it takes.”
“I have got good help at Florence. I feel like I need to be here for a while. I will always be back and forth.”
Turner and Fredrick said they are looking forward to serving the people of Peabody.
“All we ask if that people give us a chance and compare prices with Newton,” Turner said. “Anything they want that we don’t have, I encourage them to ask. It will be trial and error for a while.”
Fredrick agreed. “We need to get the products everyone likes in here. If you don’t see something you want, let us know.”