|Fate||Acquisition by A&P, then liquidation|
|Defunct||July 7, 2007|
|Parent||The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (1987-2007)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2009)|
Farmer Jack was a supermarket chain based in Detroit, Michigan. At its peak, it operated more than 100 stores, primarily in southeastern Michigan. In its final years, the chain operated as a subsidiary of the New Jersey-based A&P (The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company) Corporation. A&P closed the Farmer Jack chain on July 7, 2007.
Farmer Jack stores were typically in suburban neighborhoods, usually anchoring strip malls. In addition to offering groceries, each store operated full-service produce, floral, delicatessen, bakery, pharmacy, meat, and seafood departments. Many stores also featured a bank.
Farmer Jack's beginnings were in 1924, when Jewish-Russian immigrants Tom Borman and Sam Burlak opened a neighborhood grocery store, Tom's Quality Meats, at 12th and Forest in Detroit. In 1927, his brother Abraham "Al" Borman opened a store on Kercheval on the city's east side. The brothers eventually formed a partnership, which ended in 1945, with Tom developing Lucky Stores, and Al developing Food Fair markets. In 1955, the two operations merged into Food Fair, operating under the corporate entity Borman Food Stores Inc. Four years later, the renamed Borman's Inc., sold more than 400,000 shares of stock, with the brothers retaining control. Proceeds from the stock sale fueled a buying binge: Borman's bought State Super Markets of Ferndale; American Stores Inc., acquired nine Lipson-Gourwitz Co. markets in Detroit, planning an expansion to 46 stores.
In 1966, Borman announced the opening of three suburban shopping centers that would contain gas stations, car washes, garden supply stores, Yankee discount stores, and food stores, operating under the new moniker of Farmer Jack.
By 1972, Detroit became a major zone of grocery store competition, with six chains competing in the region, including Chatham and Great Scott! In a speech, Paul Borman claimed A&P's move to discount-type stores had nearly destroyed the supermarket industry.
In 1987, Borman's was flush with cash, taking advantage of Safeway's troubles as an opportunity to diversify its store base beyond Michigan when it bought that chain's 60-store Salt Lake City division. Those stores were throughout Utah, southern Idaho, and in adjacent towns in Nevada and Wyoming. The Safeway stores were renamed Farmer Jack; the company planned to remodel and update them, as Safeway had not invested much in the division. The expansion was short-lived and by the end of 1988, Farmer Jack sold the 60-store division to various retailers including 29 stores to Boise, Idaho-based retailer Albertsons.
Later in 1987, a lengthy strike by Detroit-area clerks and cashiers, who were not supported by meat cutters or Teamsters, depleted Borman's cash reserve. Borman's eventually bought-out 800 workers, paying $12.9 million. The 1987 strike started a period of losses that would eventually prompt the sale to A&P. During a decade of merger mania in the supermarket business, A&P paid $76 million for 79 Farmer Jack stores operated by Borman's. The buyout made A&P the top player among grocery stores in southeastern Michigan, with a 36% share. By 1994, nearly all A&P stores in metro Detroit had been converted to Farmer Jack stores.
After initial merger pains, Farmer Jack rose to prosperity, becoming A&P's most profitable division. However, by the early 2000s, Farmer Jack struggled to compete with newer, larger stores; less-senior, lower-cost labor; and more tech-savvy, efficient operations offered by rivals Meijer and Kroger. Rather than investing significant capital into upgrading existing stores, A&P focused on expanding the chain beyond Southeast Michigan, entering Toledo, Flint, Saginaw, and Lansing markets. Meijer was engaged in an aggressive price-cutting campaign to fend off K-Mart's aggressive Super Center expansion, as well as Walmart's proposed entry of Supercenter stores. Farmer Jack found it necessary to reduce prices to compete.
Farmer Jack's Detroit-area stores experienced significant drops in revenue due to the price cuts, as well as consumer flight. Rather than adding revenue, the chain's expansion proved to be a major financial drain. Farmer Jack was losing a significant amount of money and was then hit by an accounting scandal.
In 2002, the chain reorganized, closed stores, and cut staffing. Farmer Jack attempted to improve its image by advertising clean stores and guaranteed fresh food. It converted a number of older stores to A&P's Food Basics format in an attempt to compete with extremely low priced chains such as Save-A-Lot. Unfortunately, the efforts proved too little and by 2005, A&P began to seek buyers for the division. A&P reached an agreement to sell most of the chain to Spartan Stores. However, Spartan canceled the deal and, combined with a wage concession from its unionized workers, A&P decided not to sell Farmer Jack, but rather return it to profitability.
By late 2006, A&P reported that Farmer Jack was breaking-even and, in some periods, recording a small profit.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (June 2009)|
In April 2007, A&P announced its decision to focus on its core Northeast division; Farmer Jack was one of the chains put on the market. In June, A&P announced that Farmer Jack would cease operation as of July 7, 2007 and stores that were not sold closed on that date.
Kroger acquired 20 former Farmer Jack's stores while independent grocers collectively bought 21. In an October 2007 SEC filing A&P revealed that it received approximately $110 million for 41 former Farmer Jack sites, and that 2 warehouses and 25 stores remained for sale.
In June 2010, A&P ended lease payments at vacant Farmer Jack stores; affected property owners responded with 24 lawsuits against A&P. In December 2010, A&P filed for bankruptcy citing dark leases from discontinued operations like Farmer Jack as a factor in its decision.
Farmer Jack is remembered in metro Detroit for its It's Always Savings Time jingle, which was used in the 1990s and again in the mid-2000s. Its most famous advertising mode was the 10-second "Farmer Jack savings time" plugs where the radio personality would give a quick special while in the background would play a sound similar to a teletype that began and ended with a low "boinnng" sound.
Another famous slogan was Made in Michigan, Sold at Farmer Jack, which was used to promote Michigan brands and agriculture products.
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- "Food Lion Acquiring Farmer Jack Stores". The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Virginia: NewsBank). 26 February 1999. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
- "A&P Reopening 10 Detroit Farmer Jacks as Food Basics Stores". Progressive Grocer. 13 January 2004. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
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- "Farmer Jack Supermarkets Re-launches 'Savings Time' Value Campaign As Company Returns Cost-Cutting Savings To Consumers" (Press release). Farmer Jack Supermarkets. 5 May 2006. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
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- Duggan, Daniel (3 October 2010). "A&P stops rent on Farmer Jack spaces: 24 lawsuits filed; owners in default". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
- Duggan, Daniel (13 December 2010). "A&P wants to terminate 21 retail leases in metro Detroit, bankruptcy filing shows". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2013-12-17.