Giant Eagle

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This article is about the supermarket chain. For the bird, see Haast's Eagle.
Not to be confused with Giant-Carlisle.
Giant Eagle, Inc.
Type Private
Industry Retail (Grocery)
Founded March 17, 1933 [1]
Headquarters O'Hara Township, Pennsylvania, United States
Number of locations 229
Area served Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland
Key people David Shapira, Executive Chairman[2]
Laura Shapira Karet, CEO[2]
John Lucot, President and Chief Operating Officer[2]
Products Bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, meat, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor, lottery tickets, fuel, sushi, GreenWise, PIX, Western Union, money orders, dry ice, prepared foods
Services Convenience/Forecourt Store, Other Specialty, Supermarket, Gas Stations
Revenue Increase $9.3 billion USD (2011)
Employees 36,000
Website gianteagle.com

Giant Eagle is a supermarket chain with stores in the U.S. states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. The company was founded in 1918 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and incorporated on March 17, 1933.[1] Supermarket News ranked Giant Eagle No. 21 in the 2012 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2011 fiscal year estimated sales of $9.3 billion.[3] In 2005, it was the 32nd-largest privately held corporation, as determined by Forbes.[4] Based on 2005 revenue, Giant Eagle is the 49th-largest retailer in the United States.[5] As of Summer 2014, the company has approximately $9.9 billion in annual sales, Giant Eagle has 417 stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia and Maryland. The company also operates 168 fuel station/convenience stores under the GetGo banner.

The company operates its corporate headquarters in an office park in the Pittsburgh suburb of O'Hara Township.

History[edit]

A Giant Eagle location at Northern Lights Shopping Center in Economy, Pennsylvania in 2014. This Giant Eagle is privately-owned.

In 1918, two families, Goldstein/Shapira, Porter, and Chait built a series of small grocery stores they called Eagle Grocery. They were successful and the business grew steadily to 125 stores. In 1928, these three families sold Eagle Grocery to the Kroger Company. As part of their arrangement with Kroger, the families agreed to leave the grocery business for a period of three years.

In the meantime, two families, Moravitz and Weizenbaum, built their own successful chain of grocery stores named OK Grocery. In 1931, the five families combined forces to form Giant Eagle. Giant Eagle operated stores throughout Pittsburgh-area neighborhoods, and the chain grew steadily throughout the 30s and 40s, despite the desperate times of the Great Depression and World War II. From the 1950s onward, Giant Eagle was at the leading edge of modern supermarket innovation.[6]

Giant Eagle in Stow, Ohio. This is the current Giant Eagle prototype, used since the late 1990s, but has the 1980s-era Giant Eagle logo font.

The chain entered Ohio in the 1980s, when it bought Youngstown, Ohio-based wholesaler Tamarkin Company, and its Valu-King stores that were converted to the Giant Eagle name. The Kent and Ravenna, stores were the first to be converted at that time; the Youngstown stores then got converted years later. Around mid or late 1990s, Giant Eagle later reached Cleveland by acquiring the Stop-n-Shop stores in the area. Stop-n-Shop stores were family owned and operated in different areas of Cleveland. The family operators of Stop-n-Shop formed a holding company named International Seaway Foods as the main umbrella for Stop-n-Shop. In 1998, Giant Eagle acquired the International Seaway Foods and converted the Stop-n-Shop Stores into Giant Eagle Stores. Giant Eagle also purchased or opened other Northeast Ohio stores outside the Stop-n-Shop area, such as the former Apples supermarkets in the nearby Akron, Ohio area..

The company entered the Toledo, market opening two stores in 2001 and 2004, both of which have now closed. Giant Eagle emerged as one of the dominant supermarket chains in Northeast Ohio, competing mainly against the New York-based Tops, from which it purchased 18 stores in October 2006. The purchases came as Tops exited the Northeast Ohio area.

Giant Eagle purchased independently owned County Market stores, giving it a store in Somerset, Pennsylvania, a new store in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and its first Maryland stores: one in Cumberland, one in Hagerstown, and two in Frederick. The Cumberland store closed in December 2003, and the Hagerstown store closed in August 2005.

Giant Eagle has aggressively expanded its footprint in the Greater Columbus area, capitalizing on the demise of the former Big Bear supermarket chain, and taking Big Bear's traditional place as Columbus' upmarket grocer. Giant Eagle first entered what it calls its "Columbus Region" in late 2000, opening three large newly built stores at Sawmill and Bethel Rd., Lewis Center, and Dublin-Granville Rd., with two more following in 2002 and 2003 at Gahanna and Hilliard-Rome Rd. In 2004, Giant Eagle purchased nine former Big Bear stores in Columbus, Newark, and Marietta from parent company Penn Traffic. Giant Eagle has since expanded to several additional locations, acquiring other abandoned Big Bear stores and in newly constructed buildings using the current Giant Eagle prototype. Giant Eagle opened its 20th Columbus-area at New Albany Road at the Ohio Rt. 161 freeway (New Albany) in August 2007, its 21st area store at Hayden Run and Cosgray Roads (Dublin) in November 2007, its 22nd area store at Stelzer and McCutcheon Roads (Columbus) in July 2008 and its 23rd area store at South Hamilton Road and Winchester Pike (Groveport) in August 2008. A new Giant Eagle opened in Lancaster, in November 2008, and the former Big Bear located at Blacklick Crossing is undergoing an expansion and remodeling.

Giant Eagle has the highest share of any supermarket chain in the Pittsburgh area, largely due to being a de facto monopoly in the region (only Aldi, Bottom Dollar Food, and stores supplied by Supervalu such as Shop 'n Save, FoodLand, Save-A-Lot, and County Market even have a presence in the area, let alone significant market share), but has lost some market share in recent years due to Walmart's construction of supercenters in the area, as well as no frills supermarkets attracting low-income customers such as Aldi, Save-A-Lot, and relative newcomer Bottom Dollar.

This former Kroger store is now occupied by Giant Eagle in Vermilion, Ohio.

Aside from Walmart, Giant Eagle's last major competitor in the Pittsburgh market was Kroger, which had bought the original Eagle but abruptly abandoned Western Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s due to labor issues with its union as well as the local economy at the time. Many Giant Eagle locations in Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio occupy former Kroger sites and used the distinctive Kroger prototypes from the 1980s with the sloped glass roof entrance until most of the stores were remodeled or replaced with newer stores in the early 2000s with Giant Eagle's current prototype. Kroger and Giant Eagle still compete head-to-head in the nearby Morgantown, West Virginia, Wheeling, West Virginia, and Weirton, West Virginia/Steubenville, Ohio areas, as well as Columbus; except for Columbus, Giant Eagle is a virtual non-factor in markets that it competes with Kroger..

Loyalty program[edit]

In 1991, Giant Eagle introduced the "Advantage Card", an electronic loyalty card discount system (already popular in many chains), as a sophisticated version of the obsolete stamp programs. The card was later modified to double as a video rental card for Iggle Video. More recently the company has started the Fuelperks! program to entice customers. This program allows customer the opportunity to earn 10 cents off each gallon of gas (20 cents in select markets) with fifty dollars worth of authorized purchases. In early 2009, Giant Eagle launched the Foodperks! program, mainly geared towards GetGo. This program allows customers who use their fuelperks at GetGo to also earn foodperks to save on groceries purchased at Giant Eagle. Every 10 gallons of gas purchased earns a 1% discount. This can be used up to 20% maximum at a time on a purchase of up to $300. Foodperks are good for 90 days and fuelperks are good for 60 days. If the customer has more than the price of gasoline or more than the 20%, those discounts will stay on your card for the remainder of the 90/60 days, and if they are not used by then, they expire. In February 2013, Giant Eagle announced that they would be discontinuing the Foodperks! program that month because it was "a little too complex".[7]

Operations[edit]

Map of Giant Eagle stores.

There are 221 store and GetGo locations in the United States: 99 in western Pennsylvania, 122 in central, northeastern, and eastern Ohio, 2 in Morgantown, West Virginia, and 2 in Frederick, Maryland. Each store carries between 22,000 and 60,000 items, approximately 5,000 of which are branded by Giant Eagle.

Giant Eagle offers over twenty-four different departments across its stores. The range of services includes Redbox video terminals, dry cleaning, in-store day care, and pharmacies. Giant Eagle also has banking partnerships with Citizens Bank in Pennsylvania and Huntington Bank in Ohio and West Virginia, both of which have their branches open inside Giant Eagle branches seven days a week except for federal holidays.

The chain has built large prototypes, and it has experimented with many departments unusual to supermarkets. Larger stores feature vast selections of ethnic and organic food, dry cleaning services, Iggle video, drive-thru pharmacies, in-store banking, Eagle's Nest (for daycare purposes while shopping), as well as in-store coffee shops and prepared foods. Prepared foods are also sold at larger GetGo locations that can accommodate a GetGo Kitchen.

The Giant Eagle stores franchised by the McKillop Family (Altoona, Bedford, and Ebensburg) hold a yearly event with the American Cancer Society. The "Grocer's Fight Cancer Day" event is held the first Thursday of October. It features live entertainment, food demos, unbelievable one day deals, and games of chance. The event is in its 19th year and has raised over $600,000 dollars for the ACS.

Although older Giant Eagle locations tend to be unionized and some are even franchised stores, in recent years the company has started leaning toward non-union company-owned-and-operated stores. In areas where a franchised store exists, if a GetGo exists nearby, it's operated by Giant Eagle itself, separate from the franchised supermarket.

Current brands[edit]

Market District[edit]

Giant Eagle has rebranded some of its stores as Market District, in an attempt to attract upscale shoppers. The initial two stores opened in June 2006 in the upscale communities of Shadyside within the City of Pittsburgh and Bethel Park in southern Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.[8] The Shadyside store was expanded from 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) to 78,000 square feet (7,200 m2), and uses sustainable design, including a green roof.[9] The Bethel Park store is 117,000 square feet (10,900 m2) in size.[10] The stores offer free Wi-Fi, churrasco-style foods, a kosher deli, cheese cave,[11][12] a smoothie bar and other options not offered at other Giant Eagle locations.[13][14] The Giant Eagle name is still evident on the logos for the rebranded stores.[15]

The third Market District store opened on November 5, 2009, in the Pittsburgh suburb of Robinson Township. The store is part of the new Settlers Ridge development, and is the largest at 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2). This store is also the largest supermarket in western Pennsylvania.[16] It replaced the 95,000-square-foot (8,800 m2) Giant Eagle store across from Robinson Town Center.[17][18] This store expanded on the successful offerings in the initial two locations. New to Market District in this store is a Crepe and Rosti bar, Candy Shop, Gelato Bar, Cooking School, Panini Station, Salad Station, and an on-site nutritionist located in the pharmacy.[19] Also, this store is the first grocery store in the Pittsburgh area to sell beer. This location is now the Flagship Market District store, and all research and development for the chain will be conducted in this location.[16]

The fourth Market District store opened on October 14, 2010, in Upper Arlington, Ohio. This store is the first Market District in Ohio; it is part of the Kingsdale Shopping Center redevelopment project in the Columbus Metro Area. The 127,000 square feet (11,800 m2) store replaced the 56,000 square feet (5,200 m2) store it acquired from Big Bear several years before.[20]

The fifth Market District store opened on January 12, 2012, in the Pittsburgh suburb of Pine Township.[21] Originally, the 87,500 square feet (8,130 m2) store was opened as a Giant Eagle in February 2008.[22] After renovations and an expansion to 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) to accommodate the new products and prepared food departments,[23] the store became the fourth Market District in the Pittsburgh region. It is also the first Market District store to have an on site GetGo gas station and convenience store.[24]

The sixth Market District store opened on July 11, 2013 in Dublin, Ohio.[25] Being the second location in the Columbus metro area, it consists of a former Big Bear store that was renovated and expanded. The 94,000 square feet (8,700 m2) store is the first to feature a sit-down sushi bar and Sizzling Wok, which offers Chinese and Vietnamese meals. This location was chosen since the original Giant Eagle store in the Columbus market location drew the most shoppers from Dublin.[25]

The seventh Market District store opened in the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Solon on August 8, 2013.[26] This store is the first Market District store in the Cleveland, Ohio market. It replaced the existing Giant Eagle store by relocating to the new Solon Village Shopping Center.[27] The Solon Market District store is 92,000 square feet (8,500 m2) in size,.[28]

The eighth Market District store opened in Green, Ohio on November 7, 2013. The store was originally undergoing a simple renovation until Akron-based Acme Fresh Market announced their opening of a new Green Location located only across the street from the existing Giant Eagle Store. This store features a sit-down cafe and Sizzling Wok, as well as Ohio licensed State Liquor Sales.[29]

The ninth Market District is being built in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio on the site of the former State Road Shopping Center. The new store is being built as a part of the new Portage Crossing business development.[30]

The tenth Market District store is planned to open in the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Strongsville.[31] The new Market District store will replace the existing Giant Eagle store located inside the Southpark Center plaza. Strongsville's Market District store will be slightly larger than the Solon location, just under 97,000 square feet, and will open in 2014.[32]

The eleventh Market District store is currently under construction in the Pittsburgh area suburb of Aspinwall at Waterworks Mall. The current 100,000 square feet Giant Eagle Supermarket, is being heavily renovated and rebranded as a Giant Eagle Market District. The newly renovated store is expected to be complete in early 2015. [33]

The twelfth Market District store is planned to be constructed in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel at the brand new development called The Bridges. This will be Giant Eagle's first store in the state of Indiana [34] and could potentially mean additional stores opening in the state. This store is expected to be up to 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) in size and will also have an on site GetGo convenience store and gas station. [35]

Giant Eagle Express[edit]

Giant Eagle Express in Harmar Township, Pennsylvania.

Giant Eagle Express is a concept store of Giant Eagle. As of June 2012, there are only two operating stores, located in Harmar Township, Pennsylvania and Indiana, Pennsylvania.[36] The store is larger than a GetGo, but much smaller than a regular Giant Eagle supermarket store. However, the store offers many of the same services as a Giant Eagle, such as a deli and a drive-through pharmacy. Giant Eagle Express also offers a café with prepared sandwiches, Giant Eagle's own Market District coffee, salad bar, and a wireless internet connection. Outside, GetGo gasoline is available.[37]

Market District Express[edit]

On June 4, 2013, Giant Eagle has revealed that they will be launching the new Market District Express concept. This concept is designed to be a hybrid of the flagship Market District format launched in 2006 with the Giant Eagle Express format that was launched in 2007. The first store announced for the Columbus, Ohio suburb of Bexley, where the former City Hall will be redeveloped to accommodate the new store. It's also reported that the new store may feature a second floor, similar to the Market District stores in Robinson, PA, Upper Arlington and Solon, OH.[38] The store is scheduled to open by 2015.

Even though the first store was announced for Bexley, Ohio, the first Market District Express store opened on December 4, 2013 in the Pittsburgh suburb of McCandless. At 15,500 sq. ft., the store still offers many items found in the full-scale Market District stores, along with a sit-down restaurant, pharmacy, Starbucks Coffee, and on-site GetGo gas station.[39]

Valu King and Good Cents[edit]

Valu King logo.

In December 2008, Giant Eagle opened its first Valu King supermarket in Eastlake, Ohio.[40] The Valu King name dates back to the 1980s, when Giant Eagle bought Youngstown wholesaler Tamarkin Co. and its Valu King stores were eventually converted to the Giant Eagle name. Today, Valu King operates stores in Eastlake, Ravenna, and Brooklyn in Ohio and Johnstown and Erie in Pennsylvania, with the most recent store opening in May 2012.

In 2012, Giant Eagle opened a new low-cost supermarket concept called Good Cents, located in Ross Township, Pennsylvania. The concept is similar to that of a Valu King, but carries a slightly larger product selection. Good Cents will eventually replace the Valu King brand as Giant Eagle's low-cost brand.[41]

Good Cents and Valu King both are no frills stores designed to compete with similar stores such as Aldi, Save-A-Lot, and Bottom Dollar Food.

GetGo[edit]

Main article: GetGo

Giant Eagle Pharmacy[edit]

Giant Eagle began adding pharmacies to their stores in the 1980s, along with other "store-within-a-store" concepts photo, floral, and video rental. In 2006, Giant Eagle attracted much attention[citation needed] when it became the first pharmacy in the region to offer over 300 generic prescription medications for $4. As of June 2008, Giant Eagle has updated the pharmacy pricing structure to include several generic prescription medications at $4 for a thirty day supply and $10 for a ninety day supply. Due to the increase in prescriptions and decrease in sales, Giant Eagle has gotten rid of the free generics list. The only free medication at Giant Eagle will be prenatal vitamins effective January 17, 2013.[42] The program has been very successful for the company and the pharmacy.[43] The pharmacies are also willing to price-match local pharmacies. Giant Eagle Pharmacy also offers several immunizations across the year for Pneumonia, Influenza, and Zostavax. These are typically walk-in, but vary depending on the pharmacists available.[44]

Giant Eagle Optical[edit]

In October 2004, Giant Eagle began a long-term experiment with in-store optometry centers dubbed "Giant Eagle Optical." There were four locations in the Pittsburgh area: North Hills (McIntyre Square), South Hills (Donaldson's Crossroads), east (Monroeville), and west (Robinson). The stores accepted most major vision plans and offered a wide variety of designer frames, as well as exclusive Giant Eagle brands. They also participated in the Fuelperks! program and were staffed mostly by ABO-certified opticians. Noting that "some programs don't prove viable across a broad number of stores," Giant Eagle chose to close its Optical locations beginning in August 2009.[45]

Giant Eagle Contact Lenses[edit]

Giant Eagle partnered with Arlington Lens Supply in 2010 to sell contact lenses online via their website.

Starbucks[edit]

Giant Eagle has a contract to operate Starbucks kiosks in some of its stores; the workers are employed by Giant Eagle, but become certified baristas after completing the process.[citation needed]

Defunct brands[edit]

Phar-Mor[edit]

Main article: Phar-Mor

Giant Eagle was the largest shareholder of the Phar-Mor chain during its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, although it was operated separate from the main Giant Eagle chain.[46] The Shapira family that owns Giant Eagle provided Phar-Mor founder Mickey Monus with the financing necessary to start his chain. After Monus was convicted of embezzlement, Phar-Mor filed for bankruptcy and eventually liquidated. Due to Giant Eagle's stake in Phar-Mor, it was able to acquire Phar-Mor's Youngstown-area assets in bankruptcy court after the chain liquidated.

Iggle Video[edit]

Giant Eagle once operated Iggle Video locations inside many of its locations to serve as its video rental shop. Like Giant Eagle Pharmacy, Iggle Video (which spelled "eagle" from its phonetic pronunciation in Pittsburghese, even outside of Pittsburgh) never operated in stand-alone locations. Like other video rental chains, Iggle Video offered movie and video game rentals. They also served as the local Ticketmaster outlet in the Pittsburgh region before the advent of the Internet made it possible to buy live event tickets from Ticketmaster online. In the mid-late 2000's, Giant Eagle phased these stores out in favor of Redbox automated retail machines, with Ticketmaster sales moved to the customer service desk.

Employees[edit]

Giant Eagle has about 36,000 employees and many of them are unionized under United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23 of Pittsburgh, and UFCW Local 880 of Cleveland. The Maryland, Parma Heights, Toledo, and Columbus stores are not unionized, much like some independently owned stores throughout Pennsylvania and the Youngstown, Ohio area. In late 2007, Giant Eagle's Columbus division was ranked by employees through a Business First survey as one of the top ten places to work in Central Ohio.[citation needed] Some employees in the Eagle's Nest and Photo Lab departments are also nonunion employees.

Advertising[edit]

Giant Eagle currently uses the slogan "That's my Giant Eagle Advantage"[47] with its advertising. This campaign features store employees and customers to put their own spin on what Giant Eagle offers. The campaign includes a focus on product selection, quality, customer service, and price leadership.[48]

From 2009 until 2011, the slogan was "Low prices. Uncompromising quality." In December 2009, a variation being used was "Lower prices. Uncompromising quality." for online advertisements on thepittsburghchannel.com website.[49]

From 2001 until 2009, the slogan "Make every day taste better", was used. It was meant to showcase product quality as compared to the convenience focus used in the previous campaign.[48]

From 1993 until 2001, "It takes a giant to make life simple." was used as the slogan. This was focused on convenience, and spawned the "Fe Fi Fo Fum" commercials. The commercials featured everything from the general store, the produce and deli departments to a spot featuring Jay Bell and Jeff King of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This replaced the previous "A lot you can feel good about...especially the price" motto.

The chain, under pressure from Wal-Mart, has implemented a lower prices campaign throughout its stores, featured on products customers buy most. Giant Eagle also flogs Topco-produced Valu Time products, which are substantially cheaper than other private-label and name-brand merchandise. These co-exist with the Giant Eagle branded items, which are priced lower than national brands yet higher than Valu Time. Before these brands existed, Giant Eagle generally used Topco's Food Club label as the generic product.[citation needed]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]