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Readers Split On Schnucks’ Purchase Of 19 Shop ‘n Save Locations

September 26, 2018 Big Box, Featured, Retail, STL Region Comments Off on Readers Split On Schnucks’ Purchase Of 19 Shop ‘n Save Locations

Shop ‘n Save’s parent company, Minneapolis-based SuperValu, is selling/closing all locations — St. Louis & Springfield IL. This has been known for months, from July:

Supervalu is exiting the food retail business via a deal to sell itself to United Natural Foods Inc. for $2.9 billion.

The news comes on the same day that Supervalu announced its Q1 2019 earnings.

UNFI said it will sell off Supervalu’s retail business, which comprises 3,000 stores. The company has spent more than two years executing a transformation plan aimed at returning to its wholesale roots. (Retail Leader)

From February 2016:

United Natural Foods, a primary distributor for Whole Foods, distributes natural, organic and specialty food to a variety of grocery and natural product stores. It works with brands including Clif Bar, Annie’s, Bob’s Red Mill and Horizon Organic. The Providence, R.I. -based company also reported preliminary second quarter results Monday that fell below analyst expectations, as competition in the organic and natural food space continues to grow. (USA Today)

Shop ‘n Save has been headquartered in Kirkwood for years, but has been owned by out of state interests for more than a quarter century:

Shop ’n Save was founded in 1979 as a grocery store in Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis, Missouri. The chain now includes 33 stores in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and 3 additional stores in Springfield, Illinois.

In 1983, the retail chain was acquired by Wetterau, Inc. Nine years later, in 1992, Wetterau was acquired by SuperValu, and Shop ’n Save has been a subsidiary of SuperValu since. (Wikipedia)

Wetterau was based in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood. The Wetterau family has a long history in St. Louis:

George Wetterau moved to St. Louis in 1867 at the age of 17 to join his brother in a small retail grocery business. In 1868, he began working for J. F. Lauman & company, a local wholesale grocery company and he bought the company a year later, with a partner, Frank Goebel. They formed Goebel and Wetterau Grocery Company with their wholesale office located at 712 South Second Street. In 1899, the two dissolved their partnership and George formed G. H. Wetterau & Sons Grocer Company. In 1923, Otto Wetterau, one of his sons, took over the company. He changed the name to Wetterau Grocer Company and took advantage of new forms of transportation and warehouse equipment to expand rapidly. He was one of the first to provide wholesale warehousing of produce. During the Depression, when many grocery stores went out of business, Wetterau became affiliated with the Independent Grocer’s Alliance (IGA). In 1953, Theodore C. Wetterau succeeded his brother Otto as president and added other independent supermarket chains to the organization. The company then became involved in non-food items, added a bakery division, printing division, trucking division and developed its own finance, insurance and construction companies. Wetterau was supplying food to stores in 29 states, when in 1993, Minneapolis, Minnesota-based SUPERVALU, Inc. acquired it to become the nation´s largest food wholesaler. At this time Ted Wetterau, Theodore’s son was president. Before the deal, Supervalu was the second-largest distributor and Wetterau ranked third. Ted Wetterau and his sons, Mark and Conrad then started Wetterau Associates, a holding company in Brentwood to buy and manage food-related companies. (St. Louis)

As a result of the consolidation in both the wholesale & retail grocery markets, Shop ‘n Save locations here and elsewhere will be sold or closed. Unless some other grocery chain enters the St. Louis market, others will pick up market share lost when Shop ‘n Save closes. The biggest gain will be St. Louis-based Schnucks Markets — they’re buying 19 suburban Shop ‘n Save locations. This Summer Schnucks bought the Maplewood Shop ‘n Save on Manchester, quickly reopening it as a Schnucks.

This Sho ‘n Save at 4660 Chippewa is not among the locations bought by Schnucks, it’ll close by the end of 2018 if a buyer doesn’t come forward soon.

Here are other grocery stores with at least a few locations:

  • Save-A-Lot, once also owned by Wetterau/Supervalu is now owned by Toronto-based Onex Corporation — a private equity firm.
  • Lucky’s Markets, still pretty new to the St. Louis market, is based in Boulder Colorado. A large investor is Cincinnati-based Kroeger.
  • Whole Foods is owned by Amazon.
  • Our old Food 4 Less locations became Ruler Foods locations a few years ago, Ruler is owned by Kroeger.
  • ALDI is a German company. The business was split into two separate groups in 1960, that later became Aldi Nord, headquartered in Essen, and Aldi Süd, headquartered in Mülheim. The latter is the group that operates ALDI stores in the U.S.
  • Trader Joe’s is owned by a private family trust associated with Aldi Nord (not the Aldi that operates ALDI in the U.S.).
  • Fields Foods has one location right now, but will soon open others in Dogtown and Downtown West.
  • Privately-owned local grocer Straub’s Markets has 4 locations.  Straub’s had a short-lived 5th location in suburban Ellisville, but in closed in October 2009.
  • Dierbergs Markets, also locally/privately owned, has 25 stores in Missouri & Illinois.

Readers were split on the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Adding 19 Shop ‘n Save locations will make Schnucks too dominant in the St. Louis regional grocery market.

  • Strongly agree 4 [11.76%]
  • Agree 5 [14.71%]
  • Somewhat agree 5 [14.71%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 4 [11.76%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [8.82%]
  • Disagree 8 [23.53%]
  • Strongly disagree 5 [14.71%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

The agree votes total 41.18% with the disagree side totaling 47.06%.  I voted for “slightly disagree” because while I’m not big fan of Schnucks (their development arm, DESCO, is awful about ADA accessibility) but I know that being the biggest grocery store in the region will keep outside chains in a subordinate role. My hometown of Oklahoma City is now dominated by Walmart’s Neighborhood Market chain of stand-alone grocery stores. Local chains have been reduced to rubble.

Having strong locally-owned grocery store chains, even flawed ones, is better than being at the mercy of non-local corporate interests. Just hoping the Schnucks family doesn’t decide to cash out at some point.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: What Impact Will The PGA Championship Have On Our Regional Economy?

August 12, 2018 Economy, Featured, STL Region, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: What Impact Will The PGA Championship Have On Our Regional Economy?
Please vote below

With the exception of Tuesday’s primary the news last week was dominated by the 100th PGA Championship held at Bellerive Country Club in suburban St. Louis County.

I’m not a golf fan, so my thoughts turned to economics:

The 100th PGA Championship Aug. 9-12 is expected to have an economic impact felt well beyond Bellerive Country Club’s picturesque course, up to $100 million, according to some estimates.

Hotels are filling up downtown, nearly 20 miles from the course that’s situated in a mostly residential area with few hotels nearby. (Post-Dispatch)

For today’s poll I’d like you to think about the economic impact on the regional economy.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Region Needs A Major Restructuring

April 4, 2018 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: Region Needs A Major Restructuring
The last time anyone looked at the region was Harland Bartholomew’s 1947 plan, which called for 25 airports un the St, Louis region!

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was about a statewide vote to change the Missouri constitution to let the City of St. Louis back into St. Louis County. If you didn’t figure it out, it was an April Fool’s Day joke. The issue, however, is no joke.

Given the St. Louis metropolitan area is falling behind other regions in growth I don’t think doing nothing is a sound strategy.The entire region needs to act quickly or we’ll continue dropping in rankings of metropolitan areas. We’re good at lip service and doing little things that don’t change the big picture — just give us the illusion we’re progressing.

It’s time to end the fragmentation that exists on both sides of the river. Redraw political boundaries so the region can compete. We’ve got to attract immigrates and others to the region — not just get people to leave St. Louis City & County for St. Charles County.

Politicians must give up their little fiefdoms, which is why the needed change probably won’t happen.

Here are the results from the AFD poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Missouri voters will approve Constitutional Amendment A on August 7th, placing St. Louis back inside St. Louis County

  • Strongly agree 4 [12.5%]
  • Agree 3 [9.38%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [25%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [9.38%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [3.13%]
  • Disagree 3 [9.38%]
  • Strongly disagree 6 [18.75%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 4 [12.5%]

Please…someone prove me wrong.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Plenty To Blame For Region’s Drop From 20th To 21st

March 28, 2018 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: Plenty To Blame For Region’s Drop From 20th To 21st

Last week we learned nw U.S. Census estimates show the St. Louis metropolitan area dropping from 20th to 21st in terms of population.

Overall, the St. Louis metropolitan area, which comprises 14 counties and the city of St. Louis, grew slightly but at a much slower rate than other parts of the U.S., based on population estimates taken from July 1, 2016, to July 1 of last year.

The Baltimore area, which had been ranked 21st, swapped spots on the population list with the St. Louis region. The city of Baltimore saw a numeric population drop greater than St. Louis city, but Baltimore’s loss represented a 0.9 percent decrease, compared with a 1.4 percent loss in St. Louis. (Post-Dispatch)

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but it is. Many still think a loss of population in the City of St. Louis means people just moved out to the suburbs. While that happens, it isn’t the story. The story is the entire region is suffering from rot. Our fragmented government to awful namesake pizza we’re stuck in the past. Everyone outside St. Louis can tell and steer clear.

The voters who approved the 1876 Great Divorce kicked off the downfall of both the city & region;

What made short-term sense in the 1870s turned into a long-term wall, separating entire generations of St. Louisans and creating barriers that the Great Divorce’s authors never could have foreseen. On the surface, St. Louis’s lower population and tiny footprint—among the smallest of any major American city—make its issues with violent crime look even worse as it annually tops lists of the country’s most dangerous cities. More deeply, the city-county divide creates a duplication of services, the cost of which possibly runs into the billions, and pits the city and county against each other in attracting businesses.

Generations since have been unwilling to undo this mistake. The problem has been leap-frogged by the population shift to St. Charles County. Hundreds of fiefdoms have created thousands of political positions that wan the pond to remain small so they seem important.

The entire region needs a reboot. A complete restructuring. I don’t see the needed change ever happening though. I do see a region that, in time, willl fall out of the top 25.

Here’s the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: The City of St. Louis is the primary reason for the region falling from 20th to 21st.

  • Strongly agree 6 [15.79%[
  • Agree 4 [10.53%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [21.05%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 4 [10.53%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [5.26%]
  • Disagree 3 [7.89%]
  • Strongly disagree 8 [21.05%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 3 [7.89%]

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Generations of Shortsighted Decisions Continues To Dog St. Louis Region. Will Likely Continue

November 29, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: Generations of Shortsighted Decisions Continues To Dog St. Louis Region. Will Likely Continue
Economic disinvestment in the north county area at Chambers & Lewis & Clark

Many of our current problems in the St. Louis region can be traced back to decisions made long before any of us were born. The Post-Dispatch’s example of two women who own the same type of 2014 Cadillac the personal property tax on one was $895. the other $436. Why? Where each happens to live in St. Louis County.  You might think the higher bill is in a fancier area than the lower bill — but the opposite is the case!

The total amount of real estate taxes assessed in St. Louis County has increased 18 percent since 2010, to $1.75 billion. By comparison, during that time the total amount of personal property taxes grew by 21 percent, to $280 million.

The personal property tax has steadily become a major revenue generator for municipalities and fire districts. Municipalities have increased their personal property tax revenue by 27 percent since 2010, to $9.1 million. And fire districts across St. Louis County have increased the amount they collect from personal property by 30 percent, to $31.8 million.

Johnson’s tax bill is more than double O’Neal’s in part because the school and fire districts and municipality where Johnson lives are strapped for cash. She sees a Caddy parked in her driveway; her leaders see a way to pay for teachers, cops and firefighters.

Even O’Neal doesn’t think that’s fair. She knows that sales taxes from the West County Mall help subsidize services for her area. (Post-Dispatch)

You’re probably asking what old decision is responsible for this current situation, right?  The answer is the 1876 divorce of the City of St. Louis from St. Louis County.

On August 22, 1876, in what was undoubtedly the stupidest move ever in the history of St. Louis, St. Louis City and St. Louis County decided to separate. Like the American Revolution, the great event was prompted by taxes — the 310,000 city residents didn’t feel like wasting money on the 27,000 county residents and reasoned that the city wouldn’t expand much further west than Grand Boulevard. (The boundary was eventually set at Skinker Boulevard so the city could claim Forest Park.)

Ah, short-sightedness! Thy name is St. Louis voters! Within 25 years, the city found itself pushing against its western border at Skinker and began to regret the decision to divorce itself from the county. (Riverfront Times)

As the land-locked City of St. Louis struggled as population and tax base fled to St. Louis County many County residents/leaders smugly thought something like “That’s the City for you!’ Now St. Louis County is going through the very same thing the city did in the last century — middle class fleeing certain areas with jobs, retail, etc following behind. In their place are lowered hime values, more crime, and an increased in concentrated poverty.

Had St. Louis not selfishly left St. Louis County it would have been able to annex smaller towns/villages as it grew. The city limits today would likely be out to at least the I-270 loop — North, West, and South. There would be a few municipalities that resisted annexation, but they’d be completely surrounded by the City of St. Louis. The majority of the region’s residents would live in the City of St. Louis. They’d all be covered by the city’s fire department and live within a few school districts. We wouldn’t have the disparity of taxes we do now.

Of course, this isn’t to say we’d be problem-free. We wouldn’t be. And thinking about this hypothetical scenario doesn’t change current reality. We’re one of the most fragmented regions in the country — a very high number of units of government — all with taxing ability.  Today many are as shortsighted as those in 1876 — their little corner of St. Louis County (or elsewhere in the region) is comfortable so this isn’t their problem. This is the “do nothing” approach to problem solving.

OK, let’s examine that option. Residents of North St. Louis County who cam afford housing elsewhere vote with their feet and leave — as many have been doing for years. Housing values drop so more poor move to North County, but in fewer numbers than those who left. Small municipalities continue to struggle — some raise taxes, others disincorporate themselves. Employers leave. Crime worsens. Income and other inequalities in the region get worse.

As I see it, the only answer is to reduce the units of government in the region. Sadly, many just accept the status quo as a given. From the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Lower-income areas of St. Louis County require more services (police. EMS. etc) so it makes sense those residents pay more pers. property tax

  • Strongly agree 5 [18.52%]
  • Agree 4 [14.81%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [3.7%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [7.41%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [11.11%]
  • Disagree 5 [18.52%]
  • Strongly disagree 7 [25.93%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

As is often the case, the selfish shortsighted mentality will likely prevail. Please prove me wrong.

— Steve Patterson

 

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