Independent grocers gear up for the next influx of big competitors in B.R.
With a host of new players preparing to enter the Baton Rouge grocery market—including Thibodaux-based Rouses, Costco, an as-yet unnamed gourmet chain and others—established independent neighborhood markets are hoping their brand identity, attention to detail and loyal customer base can carry them through the next big wave of change. "This is a city where independents are strong," says J.H. Campbell, president and CEO of Associated Grocers. There are dozens of emblematic names in the area, including Ralph's Market, Reeves Supermarket, Calandro's, Bet-R-Store, Matherne's, Hi Nabor, Oak Point Fresh Market, LeBlanc's and more. Most have multiple locations throughout the Capital Region. But the presence of Interstate 10, along with a college-age labor force, has historically made Baton Rouge appealing to national chains. In the constant fight for consumer dollars with grocers like Albertsons, Winn-Dixie, Piggly-Wiggly, The Fresh Market and Whole Foods Market, independent grocers are increasingly focusing on specialty offerings and personalized customer service. "To beat the competition, you have to have something special the other guy doesn't have," says Calvin Lindsly, owner of Calvin's Bocage Market, which makes about 400-450 pounds of the store's wildly popular chicken salad each day. Read more about what's in store for the Baton Rouge grocery market and how local independents view the influx of new competitors in the new Business Report cover story by Maggie Heyn Richardson here.
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