Pennsylvania Dutch treat: at Stauffers of Kissel Hill, an endless array of mouth-watering epicurean masterpieces coupled with innovative promotions and good, old-fashioned country service result in one fun shopping spree.
But now she can get her fill of fresh sushi, lamb osso buco, crab cakes, prime aged steaks and mouthwatering scratch-made cakes right in her own backyard. Plus local favorites such as homemade sauerkraut, whoopie pies, baked oatmeal and wet bottom shoofly pie that Wegmans doesn't carry.
Running into Paul W. Stauffer wearing his trademark red rose boutonniere on the sales floor--he's the face of Stauffers on local TV commercials, as well as the director of marketing and branding for the family-run SKH Management Co.--Miller says, "When we went to Wegmans we'd always say, 'Why can't we have a store around here like that?' You've done it! You really have!" she says.
When building his flagship store, Stauffer never figured on the "Wegmans effect," as he calls it. "All the supermarkets we had here and the people were driving [an hour] for the shopping experience," he says. "It really surprised us that people were traveling out of this area to go to Wegmans. We never calculated that. That was money that was never spent here. So we brought that shopping experience here so they don't have to drive."
SALES BREAKDOWN DAIRY 9% PRODUCE 13% GROCERY 34% FLORAL/CARDS 1% BISTRO/CAFE 5% DELI 6.5% MEAT 14% PHARMACY/HBW 3% SEAFOOD 4.5% FROZEN 5% BAKERY 5% Note: Table made from bar graph.
Lancaster County has more than its fair share of supermarkets. Chains Weis Market and Giant Food Carlisle dominate the landscape and there are scores of strong independents, many catering to the Amish and Mennonite communities.
But the population is exploding and becoming far more cosmopolitan. In search of a better quality of life, newcomers are arriving from places as distant as eastern Delaware and New Jersey; some still commute an hour and a half in each direction. As a result, just specializing in Pennsylvania Dutch-style chicken and dumplings, birch beer and shoofly pie no longer cuts it.
"This area has really grown over the last 10 years," Stauffer says. "That brought new potential because people travel and they want to have different types of food that they've been exposed to. They want to have different types of services to which they've been exposed to in other areas. When we built this store we incorporated all of that into it."
Stauffers of Kissel Hill's newest location is located in the Rohrerstown area of the city, also known as West Lancaster. Based in nearby Lititz, SKH operates two other supermarkets plus six garden centers, a produce and specialty foods distribution division that services Stauffers stores and some other accounts and a garden distribution division for garden supplies, home accents and related items.
The company was started in 1932 when Stauffer's father, a truck farmer, decided to open a roadside produce stand to serve customers more efficiently. After he passed away, Stauffer's mother ran the business and eventually he and his brother took it over, expanding into Christmas tree lots and eventually garden centers. They opened their first full-fledged supermarket in Lititz in 1985.
Rohrerstown is a replacement store. The new store was built at the far end of the 22-acre property and has parking for 645 cars. The original store, which was a combination garden center/supermarket with 17,000 square feet devoted to food, has been converted to solely a garden center/seasonal store.
The new supermarket has a selling area of 43,000 square feet; taking into account the "sales arena" it's 50,000. "I refer to it as a sales arena because people can't walk there, but they can see," Stauffer says. "They can see into our meat cutting area and all of our kitchens, except for seafood because I could not get it exposed the way I wanted and get the display in."
SKH is advertising its new store through a variety of media. "We have billboards up now," Stauffer says. "We haven't used billboards for years and now we have them."
Then there are the radio and TV commercials. "We have a very extensive TV program. We team up with our vendors," Stauffer says. "In November we do a program with the vendors so they can see our whole year program--the way we're going to advertise, what flyers, what handouts. This way they can participate to the level in which they feel comfortable. If they do TV they'll get promotional spots. They get front seats and exposure."
Like Wegmans, Stauffers of Kissel Hill has become a destination. Stauffer found that out when Lowe's opened less than a quarter mile away in a long shuttered Two Guys discount department store. "We thought Lowe's would hurt our garden center, but it is absolutely wonderful for us because it pulls people here," he says. Likewise, the store is drawing shoppers from Park City Center, the big regional mall about a mile away.
THE INDULGENCE CENTER
Upon entering the store the first things shoppers are greeted with is The Indulgence Center--a 36-foot long refrigerated case filled with cheesecakes, baked oatmeal, pies, jelly rolls, apple dumplings, and dozens of other bakery items.
"Our product list runs well into the thousands," says Brian Rossell, bakery manager. "We have more items than almost every bakery in Lancaster County--and we do it better than any bakery in Lancaster County."
The vast majority are made from scratch, although some items, like the locally famous Pellman cakes and cheesecakes, are sourced from outside vendors. Others, like rolls, are frozen bake-off. Doughnuts, including to-die-for butter cream-stuffed croissants, are fried throughout the day. Many items are unique, like a two-layer raspberry cheesecake with chocolate cake on top. "These are all original ideas that we've come up with over the years that nobody else does," Rossell says.
Others, like corn pie made with fresh shucked corn, potatoes, chopped hard boiled eggs and parsley, have a local slant.
"There is so much of the Lancaster County tradition in what we bake, the Pennsylvania Dutch style," Rossell says. "We are known throughout the entire area for the best wet bottom shoofly pie and our baked oatmeal is something everybody adores. Almost everybody who walks through these doors asks me where the baked oatmeal is," he says, explaining it is something like a casserole that people eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Immediately to the left of the entrance is the Kodak photo center. Wegmans may have shut down its in-store photo labs, but processing is still a traffic builder at Stauffers. "This one is all digital," Stauffer says, adding that shoppers are turning to the department for posters, calendars and other unique gift ideas.
Straight ahead of The Indulgence Center the store opens up with the complete bakery and Bistro departments to the right and produce straight ahead.
Special low-rise shelves--painted purple--set off a large produce department made up of a series of little aisles, allowing shoppers to see all of the perishable departments. "We did this so people can shop easily," says Stauffer. "They don't have to reach up and they can see from one area to another. If they are shopping here they can see what's in the next aisle."
The department is well-lit, except for the potato aisle. It's kept dark to keep the tubers from sprouting. "Produce is what we are known for. The quality. The freshness," Stauffer says. "My dad started out with a roadside stand and that is what we still hang our hat on today. We have more variety than any other store in the area."
Chances are Stauffers Bistro and deli department offer more variety than all of the surrounding supermarket delis put together.
At the Bistro, sample completed dishes are displayed on the counter. Shoppers order a dish, such as bay scallops with olives over tortellini or a corned beef panini sandwich, and can either get it to go, or eat in the in-store dining area or outside patio and picnic tables. The seating area includes a restroom as well as a stylish glass basin so shoppers can wash their hands before they eat.
Cleanliness is key at Stauffers. Seven hand washing stations are set up for employees in service departments throughout the store and there's a massive dishwashing station in the back room beyond the kitchen. "As soon as we get dirty dishes it goes back here for cleaning, all the platters, everything," Stauffer says.
Adjacent to the Bistro, the deli is filled with mouth-watering entrees and sides, including the popular lamb osso buco, staffed acorn squash, roasted beets, fennel salad, pecan apricot glazed chicken breast, St. Louis-style ribs and 10-cheese macaroni and cheese.
MENU CHANGES DAILY
"Our repertoire varies day to day, but we have anywhere from 30 to 50 different dishes, depending on what's fresh, new, seasonal items and holidays, plus we're selling between 100 and 150 sandwiches a day out of our grab-and-go box," says executive chef Bob Miller, who has 38 years experience and once ran Dejavu restaurant in Philadelphia.
Stauffers uses Philadelphia-based Dietz & Watson lunchmeats. "We were Boar's Head, but we slice our advertised items ahead and they don't like that," Stauffer says. "But if we didn't do that we wouldn't be able to keep up with the customers and they would leave. It was unfortunate."
One area shoppers aren't leaving is Stauffers' cheese case. It runs for 64 feet, not including the olives, and stocks a huge variety of domestic and international cheeses, including Beemster Dutch cheeses. "To be honest, I don't think the people around here have been able to be exposed to and go and shop for international cheeses," says cheese manager John Marquette. "Giant carries some, but our shoppers are getting a big selection here."
The store also has a large meat selection. At the Weis Markets next door to Lowe's, shoppers are lucky if they can find one butcher in the back room. At Stauffers meat manager John Welsh oversees a team of seven, all working in clear view of the selling floor. "Combined, we have 150 years of experience here," he says.
Stauffers sources its pork from Leidy's in nearby Souderton and beef from Ryding Regency of Ontario, Canada. "They're only eight hours away, while most American beef is from out West, so we consider this to also be local," Welsh says.
The cream of the crop of that beef is set aside for Stauffers dry-aged program, where an aged Delmonico steak sells for $23.99 a pound. "We age them for five weeks and we underestimated the appeal of it when we opened. We didn't have enough back-up and we sold through," Welsh says.
Jay Stauffer, Paul's nephew, manages the seafood department along the back wall. Crab cakes are made in-house. Other popular sellers are crab-stuffed portabella mushrooms, Salmon Santa Fe, Island Salmon (marinated in orange juice, cooked and topped with coconut and mango salsa), and salmon burgers. "We sample the salmon burgers. I'll make up tiny ones like mini sliders and we'll cook them on a George Foreman Grill," Jay Stauffer says. "We make our own fresh dill gravlax in our kitchen," he adds. "It's Paul's recipe and man is it good."
STORE STATS Grand opening date Oct. 22, 2008 Total area 78,000 square feet Selling area 43,000 square feet Number of SKUs 81,000 Number of Checkouts 14 (including 4 self-checkouts) Number of Aisles 17 Weekly sales $700,000 Number of associates 220 Store hours 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily Store Designer John Martin of Althouse Martin Architects, Lancaster, Pa. Interior Design Broden Design Group, Denville, N.J. Wholesaler AWI, Robesonia, Pa. THE COMPETITORS Number of competitors in a five-mile radius. RETAILER # OF LOCATIONS Giant 4 Weis 5 Oregon Dairy 1 Herr's 1 Musser 1 Redner's 1 Darrenkamp 1 Wal-Mart Supercenter 1 Super Kmart 1 PRICE CHECK Item Stauffers Giant Weis Pineapple $2.99 $2.99 + $3.99 Cucumber 99-cents 99-cents 99-cents Red Delicious apples (lb.) $1.99 $1.99 $1.99 Onions (3-lb.) $2.99 2/$5.00 + $3.99 Boneless Pork Chops (lb.) $5.99 $4.99 $3.59 Ground Beef - 93% (lb.) $3.99 $3.99 * $4.69 Hellmann's mayonnaise (30-oz.) $4.55 $4.55 $4.55 French's mustard (9-oz. glass) $1.25 $1.28 $1.25 Heinz vinegar (Qt.) $1.59 $1.39 $1.45 Maxwell House Instant Coffee (8-oz.) $5.29 $5.29 $5.19 Log Cabin syrup (24-oz.) $3.29 $2.79 + $2.39 ^ Domino sugar (5-lb.) $2.89 $2.59 $2.79 Wondra flour (13.5-oz.) $1.99 $2.09 $1.99 Jell-O (3-oz. box) 4/$2.00 39-cents + 4/$3.00 Underwood Deviled Ham (4.25-oz.) $1.89 $1.69 $1.55 Star-Kist solid white tuna (5-oz.) $1.59 $1.49 $1.75 Campbell's tomato soup 89-cents 3/$2.00 + 93-cents Kleenex tissues (200-count) $1.89 $1.99 $1.89 Mott's apple juice (64-oz.) $2.99 4/$9.00 + 2/$5.00 ^ Chips Ahoy! (15.25-oz.) $2.99 $2.99 + $3.79 Junior Mints (4.75-oz box) $1.29 $1.09 $1.19 Eggo Bake Shop Swirls (13.3-oz.) $2.59 $2.79 $2.39 Mrs. T's Pierogies (16.9-oz.) $2.35 2$4.00+ $2.39 Olivio (15-oz.) $1.99 $2.57 $2.29 Turkey Hill Iced Tea (1/2 gal.) $1.69 $1.63 3/$4.00 ^ TOTAL $63.94 $58.97 $61.60 + With Giant Bonus Card * 90% lean ^ With club card Price check conducted Oct. 22-23, 2008 in Lancaster, Pa., at Stauffers of Kissel Hill, 301 Rohrerstown Road; Giant Food, 1360 Columbia, Avenue; Weis Markets, 31 Rohrerstown Road.
Next along the back wall is Stauffers' whole bean coffee department where some 250 different varieties are available. A table filled with Thermoses for free samples. "I underestimated the appeal of the free samples," Paul Stauffer says. "We're going to set up chairs here so people can sample and sit."
The International Department follows. Items are arranged on black Metro racks and grouped according to country and nationality. Offerings include kosher, British, Mexican, Asian, Indian and Italian.
Stauffers also does a fantastic job with bulk foods, stocking more than 345 items, one-third of which are candy.
However, instead of the barrels and bins found in most bulk departments, at Stauffers they are pre-packed in clear plastic tubs. "It's tamper proof," Stauffer says. "When you have barrels, lots of things can go in them. We found people put trash in it when they were passing. We got away from that and went to plastic bags, then cellophane. We then went to this tamper-proof package that people felt safer about."
With this new store, Stauffers has greatly increased its emphasis on nonfoods and has added a pharmacy, complete with a drive-through window. To build traffic, new customers get a $10 gift card and another $10 gift card for every 13 prescriptions filled. "Anytime you start a new pharmacy the word has to get out first that you have one, and then you have to get them to change their mind that where they are currently going isn't as good as here," says Wendy Kautz, pharmacist.
Other stores refer to that area of the store as the HBC--health and beauty care--department, but not Stauffers. "We call it HBW because we're selling health, beauty and wellness," Stauffer says.
Better throw in one heck of a fun shopping trip too.
RELATED ARTICLE: Walkabout food
REMEMBER THAT INTOXICATING SMELL WHEN YOU WALKED INTO A WOOLWORTHS AS A KID? Stauffers has recaptured it with its self-serve hot dog stand. Two large rollers roast Kunzler hot dogs all day long. Stauffers sells them for 50-cents each. Shoppers simply use tongs to pick up a hot dog, add the condiments at the end of the counter and then drop their money in a locked box at the end of the station, similar to the ones churches use for candles.
"We call it walkabout food," Stauffer says. "A hot dog and a cup of coffee is a buck and they can help themselves without going to the register." Stauffers has employed the concept for about eight years. It's so popular that employees now have to precook the hot dogs in the back before putting them on the rollers, and both rollers are working all day long.
"On a good Sunday we can go through 100 pounds of hot dogs," Stauffer says. "We really found out that this is a budget maker. If somebody comes in on a Sunday and they have three kids they can get a hot dog and a soda for all three, and you're talking about $3. On a Sunday after church it's like whoom!"
A similar story unfolds over at a nearby kettle filled with shredded pork. Shoppers can make their own sandwiches for $1 by scooping the pork into a foil-wrapped bun displayed in an adjacent wicker basket.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 2009|
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