For Richmond area family-owned Ukrop's Super Market to be #1 in the grocery store lineup the past 20 years is itself remarkable, so the news that they slipped to #2 was not alarming.
Ukrop's is a local food store leader ... Ukrop's stores are all in the Richmond area with the exception of one in Williamsburg, one in Fredericksburg, and one in Roanoke. Ukrop's is closed on Sundays and does not sell beer or wine even though they are overshadowed by national chains such as Food Lion, Kroger, and WalMart.
Today's Richmond Times-Dispatch reveals Ukrop's has slipped to the #2 spot while Food Lion has moved to #1. Food Lion has 52 stores in the Richmond area. Ukrop's has 20 stores.
As a Chesterfield County native, I grew up with Ukrop's and continue to shop there whenever in the Richmond area, buying groceries to bring back to the Valley.
My sister who still lives in Chesterfield and I have been discussing this issue since Ukrop's closed an under-performing store in Williamsburg last year and with news that the Roanoke store is not doing as well as hoped. In an attempt to watch the bottom line, Ukrop's has discontinued some less popular food items in its bakeries.
What makes Ukrop's different from the chain stores is its hometown touch: closed on Sundays, no alcohol sales, giving back to the community, cleanliness in the stores, fresh local product in-season, support of local vendors.
The economy these days is not good and people have to watch their spending so perhaps the time has come for Ukrop's to consider opening on Sundays to catch those sales when people are off for the weekend. It doesn't have to be all the stores ... maybe have Sunday openings of strategically selected ones. Another route would be selling beer and wine to keep those sales in-store instead of losing them to nearby grocers. Of course, those are tenets of the family from the days of founder Joe Ukrop so they may want to honor him by preserving those traditions.
Whatever Ukrop's decides to do, they have every reason to hold their heads high. To stave off national competition for 20 years has been quite an accomplishment ... and who knows? Next report may show they are back on top. Meanwhile, everyone has to hunker down to ride out this financial storm.
My bet's on Ukrop's remaining a leading force in the Richmond grocery field.