Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 1, 2005

Gerry's SuperValu introduces ‘Dollar Smart’ program

By Liz Hellmann
Staff Writer

After spending 44 years in the grocery business, one would think Gerry Smith of Howard Lake would have his routine down, but like many small business owners, it’s not exactly that easy.

Smith owns and operates Gerry’s SuperValu in Howard Lake, and has recently implemented a new “Dollar Smart” program to add a new dimension to his business, and help meet a community need.

“The biggest challenge of a small business is trying to get people to understand, and really believe, what you have to offer is just as good as the big guys,” Smith said.

Spending almost half a century in the grocery store business, Smith and his wife, Carol, have learned that the only thing you can count on is change.

They have witnessed change not only in products, but also in customers, as the world becomes more fast-paced.

When they were ready to try something new to adapt to these changes, the dollar store idea seemed like a good way to go.

The dollar store is the fastest growing merchandise store in the United States right now, Smith said.

The Smiths understand the growing challenges facing small business owners today, and wanted to try something that would give the community something it needed, without hurting the grocery part of the store.

After about nine months of planning, Gerry’s SuperValu underwent some minor construction and major rearranging, to bring the Dollar Smart program to life.

“I wanted to have something different, something that we were able to do without competing with local businesses,” Gerry said.

There is no specific dollar store in the grocery store, but rather the “Dollar Smart” program introduces items throughout the store that are sold for $1, or bargains on other items, sold for a little more than $1.

There are about 700 to 800 items that are part of the “Dollar Smart” program, which are easily identified by black and yellow labels.

This program gives Smith the opportunity to take advantage of offers by companies who want to sell to dollar stores.

For example, through the “Dollar Smart” program, Smith was able to make a deal with SuperValu on its brand name cereal, selling it for $3.

Other items that are part of the program include candy, pet supplies, greeting cards, household, personal hygiene, and seasonal.

Although the price is low, the items are high quality, Smith said.

Smith is also excited to be able to bring in toys as part of the program, since there are not many places close by where people can buy toys.

This has given the Smiths a new way to approach their small-town business.

“I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks,” Carol said.

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