Thursday, September 08, 2005

East Side Schnucking

East Side Schnucking

Schnucks Markets has announced its East St. Louis store will stay open.

Apparently, Jim Koman of Koman Properties agreed to let Schnucks lease the space it occupies at 25th and State for $1 per year for 5 years.

This "$1 per year" is usually a strategy employed between government and non-profits. For example, St. Louis Public Schools used to lease Gardenville School and Windsor School to community center groups. Of course, those were annual agreements, and when SLPS decided to take those buildings back - so they could sell them! - the community centers at both sites pretty much disbanded.

Schnucks blames the Walgreens across the street for hurting its business. You may recall it opened with great fanfare in 1999, including a visit by President Bill Clinton to announce a new markets initiative.

This claim by Schnucks is b.s. Many shopping centers around town have both a full-service grocery store and a drug store, mostly Walgreens. They are supposed to be co-located, from a marketing standpoint. It's convenient for shoppers, and both stores benefit.

As for Save-A-Lot - well, personally, I think those stores are quite crappy. Some are maintained better than others, but even if Schnucks can't compete with them on price, they should be able to compete on quality.

Unfortunately, like many urban Schnucks locations, the East St. Louis store doesn't have much better quality products or customer service than Save-A-Lot. Many urban Schnucks stores are definitely a step below suburban stores. There's no denying it - both in terms of produce freshness, meat cuts, frequency of stocking, and staffer friendliness. Then there's the security guards.

In any event, I thought it really ironic that several years back, when I attended an early morning meeting in downtown ESL, the coordinator drove all the way to the Schnucks in Cahokia to buy donuts! And this was a meeting about financing redevelopment projects in ESL!

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