Home » Flooding Couldn’t Dampen Town’s Support For Burns’ Family Market

Flooding Couldn’t Dampen Town’s Support For Burns’ Family Market

Burns' COO Tim Brown, second from left, with members of the team at The Fresh Grocer of Grays Ferry during a spring community meal distribution event.

Grocer remained open during extensive renovation

by Eric Pereira / content creator

Carly Spross, director of marketing at Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets, recalls Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020 as “intense” and causing a nearly two-week store closure of its The Fresh Grocer banner in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.

However, the store has been able to re-establish itself in the community with a new look. 

Tim Brown, COO of Burns’, said the company completed a $7 million renovation of the 53,000-square-foot supermarket in early August. 

“Over four feet of flood water was brought inside the supermarket, ruining hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory and destroying millions of dollars in equipment,” Spross said. “The staff worked day and night to reopen in a matter of days so that the Upper Darby community was not without access to their major local supermarket.”

The community was supportive throughout the entire project, according to Spross. 

“We were committed to completing the renovation while staying open so that we could continue to service the community, which is why the project took a year to complete. The community is thrilled…and we have seen increased customer counts, frequency and basket sizes as a result.” 

Burns’ has seven stores. Five operate under The Fresh Grocer banner, while the other two are under the ShopRite banner. 

“Over the last 12 months, we worked diligently, replacing every piece of equipment including the flooring, adding more variety and enhanced offerings including a new online shopping fulfillment center, full-service bakery department and more conveniences, including new self-checkout lanes,” Brown said. 

“We also enhanced our front-end technology and installed additional self-checkouts in every location,” he said. “Equipment upgrades were also implemented in our stores’ frozen and dairy departments, where open air cases were replaced with doors to increase energy efficiency.”

Company leaders gather for a check presentation to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation at The Fresh Grocer of Upper Darby. Shown, from left, are Harold Berry, director of loss prevention for the Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets; John Faust, Burns’ operations manager; Tim Brown, Burns’ COO; Liz Scott, Alex’s mother and co-executive director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation; Patrick J. Burns, Burns’ president and CEO; Walt Suenderhaft, store director of The Fresh Grocer of Upper Darby; and Carly Spross, director of marketing for Burns’.

Brown said the company remains committed to providing a safe shopping experience for customers and also is aiming to increase staffing. 

When it comes to technology, he’s also seeing an increase in online traffic. 

“Our ShopRite locations have had tremendous growth in e-commerce via our internal online shopping service available through shoprite.com and ShopRite’s mobile app,” he said. ”While our Fresh Grocer stores have also seen growth within our internal online shopping service via thefreshgrocer.com and Fresh Grocer mobile app, those locations have actually seen even greater growth through our partnership with Instacart. 

“Providing our customers with several e-commerce platforms to choose from has proven to be an advantage.”

Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown highlighted some changes to operations. All of the company’s 24-hour stores are now closing at 11 p.m. or midnight. 

“We also removed salad bars from most of our stores, which were struggling going into COVID. Lately, we are seeing an upward trend in hot bar sales in high foot traffic areas, and services that we reduced to limit the amount of time customers were in our stores will be evaluated over time,” he said. 

Brown foresees some hurdles ahead.

“The supply chain is more strained now than I think at any point during COVID,” he said. “Supplies are a major problem; costs on store supplies are up 30-40 percent. 

Hopefully, when people get back to work with unemployment ending, the supply chain will recover. Until then, it’s very spotty across many commodities.”

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