Guest Column: Schnuck’s should not have been allowed to monopolize Rockford market

By Amy Harbison

First, let me start by explaining what the Rural Oaks Schnuck’s means to my family. It is the “Cheers” of grocery stores. There is nothing like shopping where “everybody knows your name.” Many retail stores have their employees use your name from your check or credit card when thanking you for shopping there. At the Rural Oaks store, this was not necessary to make you feel welcomed or thanked.

The employees at this store made your shopping experience feel local — the way it felt when my grandma used to take me to Logli or Hilander before they were bought out. It’s not like going into the Schnuck’s on East State Street, where nothing can be found without asking, and the aisles are 25 feet long. You could always find an employee close by to help when you needed it.

I would like to give the employees a round of applause at this location. Their adaptation to constant change, their positivity, and friendliness are unmatched compared to any other store I shop at. All of you will be missed.

My family is one of many in the area who does not own a vehicle. I do the majority of grocery shopping once a month sharing between three stores and do my weekly necessity shopping there. I have heard talk about boycotting Schnuck’s, and at first, I did not agree. I didn’t want to see any employees lose their jobs. From what I have heard, managers are being demoted and hours are being cut. It seems to me they would be better off looking elsewhere for employment. So after hearing this, I will finish out the month of May doing as much shopping (as store shelves allow) at Rural Oaks, and after that, I will shop at Valli, Aldi and Walmart. I do not care for Walmart, but they will happily match Schnuck’s advertised prices.

Was this their plan from the beginning? Did they keep the store open so that Rockford would not boycott them? Why not let Rockford aldermen know ahead of time so they could plan and prepare for the closure?

As a person who has worked for small businesses for eight years, it makes me wonder why they didn’t change the store hours. A small business owner would not just throw in the towel; they would take some of their valuable time and assess what could be done to save the business. Maybe they could have opened a few hours later and closed a few hours earlier. Why be open if you don’t have the customers to merit it?

I also heard that Schnuck’s is not a “discount” store. They want to portray a certain ambiance in their stores. Really! If I want ambiance, I will go to an elegant restaurant, not an overpriced grocery store.

I do not think Schnuck’s should have been allowed to monopolize the market. I believe that Schnuck’s should have focused more on its customer base and less on monopolizing the Rockford market.

As a neighborhood, we need to find out what we can do to bring in another grocery store. If Schnuck’s owns the building, they may sell to the highest bidder and not care about the trouble it causes Rockford.

Lastly, I am sure that this will just be blamed on big business. Schnuck’s did what it had to do to save the lot of its stores. I do not believe they did enough to try to save this one. It was very seldom that I went in there and the store was not busy.

Amy Harbison is a stay-at-home mom, wife and writer who has lived in Rockford’s Rural Oaks neighborhood for seven years.

From the May 28-June 3, 2014, issue

10 thoughts on “Guest Column: Schnuck’s should not have been allowed to monopolize Rockford market

  • May 28, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Schnucks cut all their hourly employee to part-time and no longer provides health benefits. They are closing the stores in the areas where they are most needed. After Schnuck purchased the one on North Main they changed the products so they did not reflect the area and the fruit was rarely fresh. I told a friend it was as if they wanted to drive patrons away. And very quickly Schnucks closed it.

    Rockford is becoming more and more a place where there is nothing west of Mulford. Where is the city in all this? Why have we been abandoned?

  • May 28, 2014 at 9:40 am

    As a lifelong Rural Oaks area resident, I hate to see this Schnucks close, but at the same time I’m glad to be rid of them. Our neighborhood has proven for nearly 60 years that we want, need and can support a grocery store at that location – sadly Schnucks’ corporate offices didn’t support the store like we did. (Need proof? Look at the in-store pharmacy they closed a year ago and left empty. Every square inch of floor and shelf space is extremely valuable to retailers, and they did nothing with it.) As I told Scott Schnuck, the Chairman & CEO of the chain: If you think Rural Street customers will start shopping at the Charles Street store, think again. We’re not loyal to Schnucks. We’re loyal to our neighborhood store.

    Schnucks’s reputation is at an all-time low in the greater Rockford area, and the only way I can see them repairing it is if they do the right thing and allow another grocery to lease or buy the Rural Oaks store.

  • May 29, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Publix and Hy-Vee are two great employee owned super markets. Enjoy shopping at these chains when traveling out of state.

    • May 29, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Where are these stores located? Would they be interested in a small store like this one?

  • May 29, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Publix is big in Florida and Hy-Vee mostly in Iowa although starting to show up in various Illinois communities. I believe there is a Hy-Vee in Sycamore.

  • May 29, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Should have never let kroger sell to them. Our worthless mayor should have tried to stop the sale. Think about this one they are only closing hylander stores. Tell poeple on alpine to go to charles st. instead of 11 street. I think if you go to schnucks go to a old highlander store . Bocott logli stores to get back at them

  • May 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    How is the mayor going to stop a sale of a business? What are you talking about????? Bob Wilson, are you on drugs?

  • May 30, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I wish Woodman’s would open up a store on North Main. Decent prices and friendly staff.

  • Jun 4, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I do not understand how people can blame Schnucks for closing a store. When is the last time you saw a company close a store that was profitable, it does not happen. People used that store as a stop n shop for items forgotten elsewhere. I have to believe that if the business was there, they would have kept it open. I do feel however for the people in the neighborhood who maybe cannot get to another store. They are the victims in all of this, but a company cannot keep losing money on a location that will in all likelihood never turn around. Plus the building has been reported on as very old and that can add immensely to the cost of running the business. I think instead of bashing a business for making what I’m sure was a difficult decision we should be looking at how to support the remaining grocery stores in the area, no matter what banner they operate under. In addition it has been reported that hours have been cut for the employees and some managers might have taken a lower job at one of the other locations, but what else could be done other than all of those jobs being lost completely? I don’t know about you, but I would rather keep my job at fewer hours than have others loose theirs completely. Would that have been better for anyone? Maybe Schnucks has plans to build and open other stores in the area, but they need to get costs in line in order to make that happen. We can only hope that this ultimately works out for all parties involved. My heart goes out to all those in the neighborhood and for those at the company that have been affected. God Bless all!!

  • Oct 15, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    If you ask me, I think Schnucks is planning to sell out in the near future. They are standardizing policy/procedure across all markets, closing stores that are less profitable (less attractive to potential buyers looking for cash cow markets), and bringing in high power execs from all kinds of other bigger, national companies. Upward mobility on the corporate ladder has halted, and their trimming their labor at an alarming rate (could also be a sign of inflating profit figures to attract buyers). The Schnucks family has always been painfully methodical and calculating in its practices and at times has spent years planning a single step before they actually implement. Brace yourselves, they’re up to something and it most likely won’t be good for consumers or the workers, OR the communities they serve.

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