Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.
Cary, NC – Supermarkets seem so permanent. But to the corporations that own them, they are pins on a map. So it is with the Food Lion at the corner of Maynard and Harrison. The Delhaize Group in Brussels, Belgium announced last week that they are closing more than 100 stores in the U.S. including the aforementioned Food Lion in Cary.
A Lesson in Supermarket Economics
A quick check on Google Maps shows that Food Lion has more than 30 stores in the Triangle. Only the Harrison Ave store is slated to close. Why?
The answer may be Aldi.
Supermarkets are very local. Unless you have something really special to offer (like Fresh Market or Whole Foods), people will not drive past four or five other stores to visit your location.
The economics of supermarkets are similar to the situation of gas stations. Economists call it monopolistic competition. In the macro sense, supermarkets fight it out with competing brands. But at the local level, each store can have something of a monopoly.
At the corner of Harrison and Maynard, there’s no monopoly. That corner sports three supermarkets. Harris Teeter is the favorite of the high end shopper. Aldi, new to the neighborhood, holds down the bargain shopper. That left Food Lion in Northwoods Market in an uncomfortable middle spot – not as cheap as Aldi (literally right across the street), not as good as Harris Teeter.
Even from Brussels, Delhaize Group could see which store had to go.
No date yet on exactly when the store on Harrison will close its doors.
If you are a fan of Food Lion, fear not. There’s another store about a mile away at Maynard and Reedy Creek. There’s a Kroger close by at the corner of High House and another Food Lion on Cary Parkway at Old Apex Road.
Although another supermarket seems unlikely, it will be interesting to see what goes into this popular location. Something unique would be a boon to the neighborhood and the other retailers in the shopping plaza.