Price Chopper to Market 32: Grocery store to rebrand and reinvigorate business

Beginning next spring, Price Chopper will rebrand itself, incorporating a new display and layout into stores.

Price Chopper announced last week its decision to rebrand the company into a new kind of grocer, Market 32. The Golub Corp., the parent company of Price Chopper, said the decision is part of the “evolution” of the store.

“Our customers are changing, and we need to change with them,” said Mona Golub, vice president of public relations and consumer services for Golub. “We’ve been successful for over 82 years because we’ve known when to change.”

“It’s a message that they’re trying to become a different type of retailer.”
-- Eunkyu Lee

Golub, who has been with the family company for 30 years, said Price Chopper as it is known today started out in the early 1920’s as Golub Cash & Carry, a wholesale grocery warehouse.

The next generations of the Golub family transformed the business into upstate New York’s first full service market in the early 1930’s, Green Island Public Service Market, which gave way to similar stores and inspired another name change, Central Markets, which held until 1973. The company then rebranded into Price Chopper in response to a struggling economy, also one of the nation’s first grocery stores to declare itself “Open 24 Hours.” 

Golub Corporation is now in its fourth generation of family ownership.

Market 32 will build upon today’s Price Chopper, but will incorporate a new display and layout into stores, bring in a variety of products, and emphasize customer service, Golub said. She said the company is ultimately aiming for a modern, contemporary shopping experience.

Golub said the rebranding stems from extensive market research that revealed changes in customers’ wants and needs, communication around shopping, need for convenience, and interest in trends, such as local sourcing and higher levels of customer service. The name change, referring to the store’s founding year of 1932, is simply an extension of customer wants, she added.

“We’ve redesigned so many concepts within the store and modernized it,” Golub said.  “We held up a mirror to the name ‘Price Chopper’ and the name wasn’t reflecting the great strengths we have in addition to low prices.”

Price Chopper, based in Schenectady, N.Y., operates in 135 locations throughout six states in the northeast. Golub said they are starting the evolution next spring by converting three Price Chopper stores into Market 32 stores: Shopper’s World in Clifton Park, N.Y.; Wilton, N.Y.; and Pittsfield, Mass.

Over the next eighteen months, the company said they plan to convert another 10-15 stores. More than half of the chain will be converted within five years, according to Golub. All together, the initial investment phase comes to more than $300 million, money that some customers said would be better spent elsewhere.

Price Chopper held an open chat on its Facebook page last week to gather customer feedback on the Market 32 evolution. Some questioned the investment in a new brand versus raising employee wages and wondered why the name “Market 32.”

However, other customers on the Facebook chat welcomed the change and said they felt the new concept would add a new type of competition to similar low-priced grocers in their areas. Such positive feedback was common for both customers and employees alike at the Price Chopper in Syracuse located at 2515 Erie Blvd, which has already started changing some parts of the store in accordance with the new Market 32 color scheme.

“It gives the place a homey feeling,” said Katrick Smith, a produce employee, or “teammate,” at Syracuse’s Price Chopper.  “We’re all taking well to it.”

Customers, too, are, as well, that is. Elihu Cohen, 88, has been a loyal Price Chopper consumer for 10 years and says the change will not deter his shopping habits.

“It doesn’t make much of a difference,” said Cohen. “It’s not as much a name change as it is an appearance change.” 

Experts generally agree that the move is smart for business. Price Chopper’s desire to compete more effectively against competitors and expand its customer base probably drove the company to the new approach, said Eunkyu Lee, a marketing professor at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management.

“They’re trying to improve and modernize the interior, improve customer service, and increase their availability of unique food items,” said Lee. “The best way of communicating that to the consumer is by changing the brand name.”

Lee, who chairs Whitman’s marketing department and specializes in grocery retail marketing, said the grocery retail business is notorious for low profits and very thin margins due to intense price competition. Low price will continue to be a part of the strategy, but the name change will move the company away from exclusively relying on that solely, Lee said.

“They’re sending a very strong signal not only to the outside but also internally within the company,” Lee said. “It’s a message that they’re trying to become a different type of retailer.”

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