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Price LE$$ Foods brings deals, jobs

Rex Barber • Jun 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM

On Thursday, a new place to get groceries with a unique pricing concept will be available to Johnson Citians.

Price Le$$ Foods will open at the former IGA location, 1530 South Roan St., Thursday at 7 a.m. The business is operated by Houchens Industries Inc., the same company that runs IGA. The difference is the business model for Price Le$$ Foods charges customers the cost of items plus 10 percent.

Randall Tipton, regional manager for Houchens, said the store will employ around 100 people and include several butchers for a wide selection of meats. Once a license is obtained, the store will have a large walk-in beer “cave.”

On Tuesday, a crew from Snyder Signs was placing a new sign for the store on the front of the building. Inside employees were stocking shelves and bins with goods and produce.

Tipton said the pricing would be great for people looking to save on their grocery bills with only a 10 percent markup in prices.

“Everything in store is at cost and then 10 percent will be added at the register,” he said. “Everything is a little bit tighter margins here. We’re just offering the customer, you know, a great value.”

Tipton said most grocery stores do not operate in this way. The cost of the items in the store is determined by the total price required to get those items from a supplier to the store shelf. The 10 percent is added on top of that cost.

The groceries stocked on the shelves were not off-brands or cheaper versions of a product. Well-known national brands were on the shelves, as well as value versions. A display of T-shirts was also available. Tipton said items like that would be offered periodically.

“You’ll have national brands and actually we’ll have some house brands too,” Tipton said. “It’s just great price structure throughout the store.”

According to a Houchens news release, this will be the second Price Le$$ Foods location. In February, a store in Elizabethtown, Ky., was renovated and converted to the new cost-plus format.

“It’s doing fantastic,” Tipton said of the Kentucky store. “We have one other store like this but we’re hoping to have a lot more. We just thought this (Johnson City) was a good location to try one of these concepts and just to see how it goes, and hopefully we’ll see more coming.”

The store opens Thursday. It will operate from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day.

Tipton said a grocer operating with these profit margins is needed now.

“This is definitely needed,” he said. “It’s definitely needed. You know, I think this is really if somebody wants to save money on grocery, on their grocery bill, they’re going to save, most definitely they’re going to save.”

Established in 1917 in Glasgow, Ky., Houchens Industries Inc., is one of the largest 100 percent employee-owned companies in the United States and currently operates businesses in insurance, manufacturing, web development, retail grocery and convenience stores, quick-to-service restaurants, construction, paving, trucking, recycling, tanning supply distribution, optical stores, financial services and property management. Houchens’ companies employ more than 17,000 people in the communities they service.

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