ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
Peabody Market owner Rick Turner was thrilled to hear the store had taken second place in Affiliated Foods’ competition for the greatest increase in sales during the past year.
Next year, he plans to come in first.
“I got beat out by 1 percent,” he said.
The market’s warehouse, Affiliated Foods out of Norfolk, Neb., recognizes the best of its 850 stores located in 12 states.
“From last June 30 to this June 30, we had a 25.8 percent increase,” Turner said.
He attributes the increased sales to carrying more variety in the store.
Turner purchased the former Jim’s Jack and Jill in Peabody in April 2003. Since then, he has plugged away at transforming the store into the vision he has for it.
Almost immediately after purchasing the store, he expanded the selling floor by opening space formerly used for a bakery and storage.
But he had dreams of making the store even bigger, and last week the walls went up on a new addition on the store’s north side that Turner says will enlarge the store by almost a third.
“We’re adding 1,800 square feet,” he said. “Right now, we’re at about 4,200.”
The new addition will house new freezers and dairy cases, Turner said.
“What that’s going to allow us to do is take all of the coolers off the ends of the aisles and use the ends for pallet deals,” he said.
Turner said he and partner John Carroll plan to purchase pallets of merchandise at discount prices that can be passed on to the shopper.
“We’ll have room to set that whole pallet on the end of an aisle when we get done and mark it a special price where we can still make our mark up and where it’s a good buy for the consumer too,” he said.
The added space will also enable them to expand the selection of goods, which Turner said is critical in today’s competitive marketplace.
“It’s crazy anymore, there are so many items,” he said. “When they built this store 50 or 55 years ago, this was a big grocery store. But you didn’t have 500 kinds of cereal in 15 million different sizes. And you had two kinds of coffee, not 20.”
Turner guesses the new space will permit him to expand his inventory by $50,000 to $70,000.
“You’ve just got to have more room now in order to buy right to try to be competitive,” he said. “We’ve got big Wal-Mart stores we’ve got to try to fight.”
Turner said he hopes to have everything in place by Halloween, but there’s a lot of work ahead.
“We’ve got a lot of tile work to do when we take these old freezers out,” he said. “There will be shelving where the freezers are now, and there will be new shelving right down the middle of the new part.”
To utilize the new space to the fullest extent, it will mean “resetting” the store to reposition merchandise.
“We’re going to have to move stuff again. There are certain areas where we’re really, really tight,” he said. “We need more room for cereal bad. We need to be carrying more of the big bags of the cheaper cereal.”
Turner said the changes couldn’t happen soon enough for him.
“None of this stuff moves fast enough for me,” he said. “But my wife sat me down the other night and said, ‘Think about what we’ve done since we’ve been here.’
“When we get all done, I think it’ll be a nice store for this size of town.”