Yesterday I went to Bella’s Market in Limon to do some grocery shopping.
You may remember that Bella’s Market was a chain of eight grocery stores in Eastern Colorado. Bella’s Market has been failing the communities they serve for years. The stores had empty shelves and just about no groceries. Last week they closed three stores. Perhaps that’s not a big deal because they hardly had any groceries anyway.
I decided to check out Bella’s Market and share some of the pictures with you here, as if you were there, too.
I’ve already talked about how it’s ironic that Eastern Colorado is a food desert that’s surrounded by farms and that even though Bella’s Market has failed the residents, the farmers have also failed them. I’ve even gone into details on how Bella’s Market has disproportionately failed the poor of these areas.
I’d like to get on my retail high horse and talk about PDQ’s and top stock. As you may remember, I worked all of my adult life before children in retail management. I am a merchandising expert. PDQ stands for pretty darn quick. PDQ’s are complete displayers filled with product. They are typically made of cardboard and placed in high traffic areas to facilitate impulse buying and add-on sales. The stocker simply takes the PDQ out of the box, sets it up and Viola! that merchandise is stocked and displayed pretty darn quickly, hence the name PDQ. On the right side of the picture above, you can see an example of a PDQ. While walking through Bella’s I saw several such PDQ’s. Many were half empty, too. PDQ’s are not a necessary integral part of the store. If Bella’s Market wanted to give the illusion that they were stocked, even if it was a facade, they should have gotten rid of all the PDQ’s and worked that merchandise into the aisles.
My next Retail 101 lesson involves topstock. Topstock is defined as extra merchandise stored visibly on the top of the store level shelves. Topstock would require an employee on a ladder to safely reach it and bring it down for the customer. An empty store like Bella’s should not have top stock, which they do all over. Working the topstock in to the shoppable levels of the store would only facilitate the illusion that Bella’s Market was slightly fuller than it was and wouldn’t do a thing to stock Bella’s with perishable merchandise so desperately needed in the food desert. Bringing topstock down to shoppable heights would look better and perhaps generate a little bit of sales. Working PDQ’s and top stock into the regular aisles would be a bandaid to mask the problem, but it would have been worth a try.
The Bella’s Market locations in Limon and Stratton have closed now, too. They were purchased by a grocer in a neighboring town. Hopefully, the new grocer will serve these community members well. There still remains the unknown plight of the other Bella’s Market locations and the food desert left in those areas that Bella’s Markets had served. I hope that better grocers will come to those towns, too.
Going up and down the aisles of Bella’s Market, I saw a only a few dozen eggs and not one piece of poultry for sale. Some Limon residents, after being dissatisfied with Bella’s Market failing to meet their grocery needs, thought it might be a good idea to raise their own chickens, to eliminate the need to rely on a grocer. The problem? Chickens are illegal within the city limits of Limon. Limon is a small little town in rural Eastern Colorado. Limon is surrounded by farms. We’re not talking Manhattan, we’re talking Limon, a small town surrounded by square miles of open acreage. Yet chickens are illegal in Limon. I have been following the controversy in the local paper for months. The town officials are unyielding.
No one has connected the dots. I’ll connect them for you, Limon town lawmakers.
1. Bella’s Market is a disgrace. While we wish the new owners of the new supermarket in the former Bella’s location every success, there is a possibility that the new store may run into problems, too. Any store can, even if it was Wal-mart moving in.
2. We are too dependent on the food distribution system. We in Lincoln County are surrounded by farms, yet Bella’s Market looked the way it did.
3. When people try to provide for themselves and bypass the whole system, it is illegal. Your residents want to take steps to eliminate the need for a supermarket, or at least the need to buy eggs from a supermarket. Your law has created a roadblock.
On the other end of town, there is a bright spot, the Limon Community Garden, where the local residents are growing fresh vegetables for themselves. These gardeners do not have to rely on Bella’s Market or long trips to Denver to meet their produce needs. I suppose Limon will make gardening illegal, too.
Posted in The Irony of a Food Desert Surrounded by Farms by Laura with 5 comments.