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Price Rite packs 'em in on opening day

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 16. 2015 8:25PM
Shoppers fill the aisles Sunday at Price Rite's newly opened Manchester location. (DOUG ALDEN/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Price Rite’s arrival was so highly anticipated that doors opened early to accommodate customers lined up outside the grocery chain’s first store in New Hampshire Sunday morning.

A crowded parking lot and aisles full of shoppers were both good signs to Price Rite President Neil Duffy, who said the former Stop & Shop location off Valley Street provided an ideal space for the company to expand into the Granite State.

“If this is any indication, we made the right decision,” Duffy said. “We don’t intend for this to be our only store in New Hampshire.”

Mayor Ted Gatsas cut the ribbon during a brief ceremony that was mostly overlooked by shoppers hurrying to get inside. And that was just fine with Gatsas, who was thrilled to see Price Rite open just about two years after Stop & Shop pulled out of the state.

“It’s busy in there and that’s a great thing,” Gatsas said.

The newest Price Rite is about a mile from the Market Basket on south Elm Street, which opened in spring 2012.

The Manchester Price Rite is approximately 45,000 square feet, about half the size of the nearby Market Basket. Price Rite executives say smaller facilities minimize overhead and keep down the cost of products lining the shelves. The chain also economizes by streamlining selection, sometimes offering fewer brands or less variety in the size of the product.

Duffy said other noticeable differences are no on-site bakeries, meat-cutting or foods prepared in the store.

Bill Britton, Price Rite director of human resources and community relations, was also in town for the opening.

“We’re a different model than a traditional supermarket,” Britton said.

Mike Berger, senior editor of the Griffin Report of Food Marketing, said Price Rite’s arrival in Manchester will likely bring down grocery prices through competition.

Berger, based in Duxbury, Mass., said he has noticed Price Rite’s presence has grown visibly in the Bay State.

“Price Rite is not afraid of the competition,” Berger said. “I see more and more of them and I’m not surprised they’re coming to New Hampshire.”

Berger said the industry continues to evolve as mega-retailers such as Walmart and Target expand their grocery operations.

In 2013, Stop & Shop closed all six of its New Hampshire stores, including a Manchester location off South Willow Street. The Stop & Shop exodus from New Hampshire came right around the same time Shaw’s closed six of its Granite State locations.

The combination had a ripple effect throughout the state and hit especially hard in Manchester, which lost three large supermarkets and hundreds of jobs that summer.

“There’s been a lot of grocery stores in the city of Manchester,” Gatsas said. “I think if you’re doing it the right way, you succeed.”

dalden@unionleader.com


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