Bensalem ShopRite remodeled, owner offers small business assistance
Since it came to Bensalem 15 years ago, the ShopRite at 2200 Bristol Road has become a go-to spot in the community for all things food. So, when owner Jeff Brown contemplated relocating to Street Road, the idea wasn’t met with much support.
“We were going to move to Street Road and put a bigger store, but a lot of people don’t want a bigger store. Especially today with COVID, they want a spacious store but not an overwhelming store. They want to get in and out a little quicker than they used to,” said Brown. “After a lot of soul searching and difficulties, we decided we were going to make the location we were at on Hulmeville and Bristol roads the best little dollhouse of a store we could make it.”
The 50,000-square-foot space was completely remodeled and recently celebrated a grand reopening. Updates include wider, well-lit aisles; a fully renovated deli; made-from-scratch baked goods; grab-and-go meal options; a full beer and wine selection; and the ability to shop from home and have groceries delivered or available for pick-up.
According to Brown, there have also been improvements in product prices.
“I think you’ll find that in Bensalem, we have by far the best pricing and we’ve lowered that a lot over the past few months,” he said. “If you’re a price person and you check prices, I think you’ll be impressed with what we did.”
Brown is the president and CEO of Brown’s Super Stores Inc., which owns and operates ShopRite and Fresh Grocer locations in Fairless Hill, South Philadelphia and other areas. At each store, Brown said most employees are hired locally.
“It’s a community store,” he said.
Additionally, Brown’s Super Stores focuses on what it does best – food.
“If you look at some of the other retail formats, they sell everything and it makes the store too big, and then you can’t be the best at something. We want to be the best at food,” said Brown. “It used to be, we were getting bigger and bigger stores. Now, it’s going the other way. The stores have gotten too big and people don’t like it.”
At its heart, Brown’s Super Stores is all about family. Leadership includes Brown’s wife and son.
“I believe in family business. I believe that’s a big part of what makes our country what it is today. Family businesses, they pay close attention to the community. They get involved. There’s pluses and minuses because we’re all around the dinner table together and we argue about things at night,” he said with a laugh. “But then the next morning, I think we do a better job than a big company would do.”
In each town where a Super Store is situated, Brown said he likes to stay on the pulse of how local business districts are fairing.
“Thirty-two years in business, from the first day in business, I always want to be part of every community,” he said. “So, when COVID shut down so many businesses everywhere, including Bensalem, I was worried about them.”
At the start of the pandemic, Brown and a few colleagues formed the PA 30 Day Fund to help struggling small businesses. While many government aid programs require an extensive application, he wanted to create a quick, streamlined process. To date, the initiative has raised $2.6 million.
“What will our communities be like if all these small businesses go out of business? All the restaurants, the little bed and breakfasts. I’m afraid of that,” he said. “So, we give a $3,000 forgivable loan. It’s like a grant. You put in an application and we just ask ourselves the commonsense question, do they need the money because their business is down, and will this help them extend their livelihood?”
Almost 700 applications have been approved, including a number in Bensalem. The grant money is usually in the business owner’s hands within three days.
To be considered, Brown is asking owners to submit a short video explaining how their business has been impacted by the virus, and how they’ve pivoted to try to adjust. He also wants to hear what else entrepreneurs are doing in their respective communities.
“Business is a part of our world that people think is for making money. And it is, but it’s for good, too,” he said. “Most small businesses help their local communities. We want to know about that. We care about that.”
More information on the grant program, including how to apply or donate, can be found at PA30DayFund.com.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at [email protected]
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