Supermarket operator Rob Rowe plans to open a fifth Rowe’s IGA Supermarket in the Jacksonville, Fla., area.
The Jacksonville Daily Record reports that the store will open in a former Food Lion in West Jacksonville at 8299 W. Beaver St.
Rowe said Wednesday the store will open Aug. 28 “if all goes as planned.”
Commodore Realty Inc. site information for the Marietta Square shopping center at the address shows Rowe’s IGA in 35,500 s.f. in the former Food Lion at the Beaver Street and Bulls Bay Highway site.
Also, the city issued two sign permits Monday for Rowe’s IGA at the address, in space 21.
Rowe estimated a $1.2 million investment in opening the store, including inventory, painting, cleaning and making sure the equipment was in order.
Rowe operates four Rowe’s IGA Supermarkets in the area—at 5435 Blanding Blvd. in West Jacksonville; at 6765 Dunn Ave. in Northwest Jacksonville; at 8595 Beach Blvd. in South Jacksonville; and at 1670 Wells Rd. in Orange Park.
He told the Daily Record in June 2012, as he opened the Dunn Avenue store, that he went shopping for Food Lion sites after the supermarket chain closed its remaining 20 area grocery stores earlier that year.
With two Rowe’s Supermarkets operating at the time, Rowe settled on two of the newly closed Food Lions—the Dunn Avenue store, at New Kings Road, and the Orange Park store along Wells Road, which opened last fall.
He expected there would be more. Rowe said at the time that he would “work on whatever makes sense.”
Rowe, who turned 51 on June 27, has decades of corporate experience with the Albertsons and Winn-Dixie chains and first ventured into operating Rowe’s Supermarkets eight years ago.
He launched his business with the 2005 acquisition of seven closed Albertsons stores, selling one site and opening six Rowe’s Supermarkets.
As the Record reported in June 2012, it wasn’t easy. Rowe faced grand-opening challenges, such as with the computerized cash-register system. He learned from the experience.
“Nothing is easy. If it was, everybody would do it,” he said then.
One by one, he sold five of the stores, retaining the one at Blanding Boulevard and 103rd Street. He works with the IGA system.
Three years ago, he opened a second Rowe’s IGA at a former Food Lion at Beach and Southside boulevards.
Then came the opportunity for the Dunn Avenue store.
Rowe created separate limited liability companies to own each store.
His chain now includes one former Albertsons and four former Food Lions.
Rowe said there are several more deals he would like to do.
“We are talking to people all the time. It is just whether we can make those deals work,” he said.
“Deals are hard to do,” Rowe said. “It has to be a win-win for the landlord and for me.”
Rowe is considering a couple more former Food Lion sites and a few other spaces, including the possibility of tearing down a building and redeveloping a site.
“You have to make sure that you are going to be successful long-term,” he said. “We could grow more, but we are doing it smart.”
Rowe said he has 330 employees and that should grow by 65-70 when the Marietta Square store opens.
Asked if he wanted to build the chain and sell it, Rowe said he intended to “operate it for now for sure.”
Rowe said the economy, which has been recovering from what is called the Great Recession, continues to affect his customers.
“It’s probably a little bit better than it has been in the past,” he said. “Things are tough for everybody.”
Rowe said “unknown factors” remain.
“Everybody is doing more with less. Everybody is trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got,” he said.
Rowe said the Aug. 28 opening will follow several weeks of work that includes inventory stocking, equipment repairs, tile work, painting, food-case and refrigeration checks and cleaning.
“It’ll be very nice,” he said.
In the featured photo at top: Rob Rowe intends to open his fifth area Rowe’s IGA Supermarket this month at 8299 W. Beaver St. He is shown above at the Dunn Avenue and New Kings Road store that opened last year. (Photo courtesy of the Jacksonville Daily Record)