How These Top Regionals Learned to Thrive in Any Competitive Landscape
This year’s class of Progressive Grocer Top Regionals is especially notable amid a major acquisition poised to shake the grocery landscape to its core.
The Kroger Co.’s proposed merger with Albertsons Cos. would create the largest grocery company in the United States by footprint and revenue, a frightening scenario for many regional players.
But this year’s 10 Top Regionals are staying ahead of the impacts of any grocery mega-merger by leveraging a variety of advantages, including inventive pricing and promotions, family or employee ownership, cult-like shopper devotion, digital reinvention, hyper-local assortments, outstanding customer experience, and, yes, a chicken dance.
We think these Top Regional power players have what it takes to keep thriving, no matter what crisis or challenge emerges in 2023.
The companies we’ve singled out as Top Regionals are as follows:
Headquarters: St. Cloud, Minn.
Store Count: 66 stores
CEO: Chris Coborn
Operating Area: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan
Since Coborn’s pushed into a new state, Michigan, in 2021, the company has been on a tear of expanding and remodeling stores that operate under the banners of Coborn’s, Cash Wise Foods, Marketplace Foods, Hornbacher’s and Tadych’s. The grocer recently completed significant updates to a Cash Wise Foods store in Williston, N.D., and has several other Cash Wise locations undergoing similar remodels.
The Williston store features an expanded in-store floral department, a designated area for curbside pickup for guests who choose to order online, and an on-site pharmacy and on-site fuel station. The remodel also includes the addition of an in-store meat smoker, which produces signature smoked meats in-house, and a relocated Bake Shoppe that will continue to churn out tortillas made fresh in-store daily. Plus there are new refrigeration and freezers, along with updated LED lighting, that will allow the location to operate with greater energy efficiency. The company has now built or updated more than two dozen of its Cash Wise locations in accordance with its “next-generation” format.
Led by the family’s fourth-generation CEO, Chris Coborn, the grocer is frequently recognized for its outstanding community service. It annually donates more than $3 million and thousands of volunteer hours toward making a positive difference in communities. The legacy of Coborn’s began in 1921, when Chester Coborn opened a single produce market on Broadway Avenue in Sauk Rapids, Minn. Today, Chester would be proud to know that the employee-owned company is still operating hyper-local neighborhood stores with a reputation for fresh food, superior customer service and exciting promotions.
Dorothy Lane Market
Headquarters: Dayton, Ohio
Store Count: 3
CEO: Norman Mayne
Operating Area: Southwest Ohio
With three locations in southwest Ohio and a fourth in the pipeline, Dorothy Lane Market has proved itself to be a small but mighty force in food retail during its more than 70 years in business. A company that started in 1948 as a fruit stand on the corner of Dorothy Lane and Far Hills Avenue, in Dayton, Ohio, has in recent years not only been recognized nationally for its exceptional customer service, but has also created a bustling e-commerce business for its specialty offerings and its famous Killer Brownie brand.
DLM, as it is affectionately known to its loyal customers, has been ahead of the curve for decades in terms of business practices, product assortment and unique culinary offerings. The grocer’s meat department has stocked proteins free of antibiotics, hormones and steroids, and in strict accordance with animal welfare standards, since 1992, and the company also launched a from-scratch artisan bread program way back in 1994. DLM additionally offers an extensive prepared meal selection, a gourmet coffee stand, and a European-style bakery chock full of pastries ranging from kouign-amann to frosted sugar cookies.
While known for being a Dayton mainstay, DLM has revealed plans to open its fourth outpost in a suburb of neighboring Cincinnati in 2024. The grocer is expanding its presence in other ways through its spinoff business, The Killer Brownie Co., which recently signed on to become the official brownie of the Cincinnati Bengals football team.