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Thoughts on Local Grocer Basha’s Filing Chapter 11

Thoughts on Local Grocer Basha’s Filing Chapter 11

avatarthumbnail.jpgFollow me back in time some 25 to 30 years and I’ll tell you the lay of the land as it existed to a pre-teen and teenager living in Mesa.

In no particular order, since it’s difficult to remember what came first …

On the southeast corner of Baseline and Dobson roads there was an Alpha Beta which later become ABCO. It existed in a strip mall along with the Moon Song chinese restaurant and the Red Hot Shack sandwich shop.

Across the street was a brand new Basha’s where as a youngster my sister and I took cooking lessons from the long-gone kitchen in the back of the store. Long’s Drugs came in around 1982 or so, which I know only because that’s when my parents bought me my Atari and Long’s, which my mom knew from the L.A. area,  is where we went when we were able to purchase new games.

One mile to the east and one mile to the south on the northwest corner of Alma School and Guadalupe Roads was locally-owner A.J. Bayless, which I knew because of the two cool video games in the front – Star Castles and Carnival. Next door to A.J. Bayless was a Skaggs drug store that later became Osco and at one point sold baseball cards out of a bin for a nickel a card.

Across the street from A.J. Bayless was the Safeway which … well … my best story there is one I can’t really tell on a blog. Let’s suffice it to say I was a 17-year-old male needing to purchase some things and all the cashiers were women and it wasn’t a joyful thing.

One mile west of Safeway on the southwest corner of Guadalupe and Dobson was Lucky’s, which I only had seen inside of Gemco until the standalone store opened up.

What I’ve outlined here is essentially a one-square mile area, give or take a few hundred feet depending on what side of the street a store happened to be on. And it’s because of this that I’m having trouble swallowing one supposed reason why locally-owned Basha’s filed for Chapter 11 today …

From azcentral.com:

In addition, the grocer has faced increased competition from Wal-Mart, Tesco’s Fresh & Easy stores and other grocery retailers who have flooded the Arizona market.

Herbert Enge, who was buying milk at the Bashas’ store at Osborn Road and Seventh Avenue in Pheonix, said he wasn’t surprised by the company’s financial woes because there are “too many big grocery stores and they’re all fighting each other.”

And how is that different than it was once upon a time? During today’s press conference there was discussion of the dismal state of the Arizona economy but unless my sepia-tinged memories are completely off, we weren’t rolling in 1980 either.

Here’s a reason I’m more inclined to believe:

Bashas’ also built new stores in growing areas ahead of the houses that were supposed to follow. Many of those houses were never built after the housing market collapsed, or are now in foreclosure. As a result, the new stores are suffering and have been a drain on the company. A new store under construction south of Interstate 10 in the far west Valley is being re-evaluated and could be put on hold.

“We chased growth like everyone else,” Basha said.

The story doesn’t say what store this might be but my hunch is this is the new Basha’s being built in Estrella (nee Estrella Mountain Ranch), seven miles south of Interstate 10 along the Estrella Parkway and about five miles south of Goodyear’s new spring training park.

Maybe the company’s financial data is different than mine but in Estrella there is a more or less captive market share; there are no supermarkets in the subdivision. In fact, the closest supermarket is six miles away just south of I-10 , which is one thing that always has made Estrella a bit of a challenging sell. No one wants to drive that far for a loaf of bread (or get hijacked by the prices at the local mini-mart.)

Looking past the stores themselves, the Basha family has done much for the community. Eddie at one time was on the verge of reaching the governor’s office, the family has given to countless charitable ventures and Eddie’s brother Johnny has worked through the years with the Boy Scouts, just to name a couple of things.

The chain isn’t just a supermarket but a local institution – I’m far from the only person who had the unique experience of baking cookies at the local supermarket.

Having said that, I also believe in basic economics and Darwinism. If what you offer appears to a sufficient segment of the population, you’ll survive. If the current business model isn’t successful, blow it up and find one that is.

Moments such as this, whether in the life of a corporation or in each of our lives, either can be viewed as opportunities or calamaties. The most successful business people are able to adapt before things become dire. The next most successful are able to adapt when they become dire and before they become hopeless.

Let’s hope Basha’s falls into the latter category.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Comments

  • Jim Little says:

    In my opinion, Basha’s has lost its identity with 3 chains of groceries + Sportsman’s Wine and Liquor.
    In addition, prices have always been significantly higher for like items.
    I do respect the localism of the chain, and I hope they can pull out of this time stronger and leaner.

  • Robert Luna says:

    Basha’s was the market I went to when i first moved to Mesa in the early 90’s and the Basha’s family were major contributors to Chandler Regional Hospital where my daughter was born. I’m routing for them and hope they can pull out of this a stronger company.

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