A longtime area grocer has taken over a Canfield store and is opening a new store in Boardman.
THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
YOUNGSTOWN -- Henry Nemenz conceded one battle to Giant Eagle when he sold his Boardman Valu King five years ago, but his recent actions show he hasn't given up the fight.
The longtime area grocer is coming into two areas where Giant Eagle has invested in large, modern stores.
Nemenz has bought the former Yager's Sparkle Market in Canfield and intends to open another store soon in the Boardman Plaza.
In 1997, Nemenz sold his Boardman store to Giant Eagle rather than compete directly with the Pittsburgh-based retailer. The sale came right after Giant Eagle announced that it was building a new store right behind his store.
Now, however, Nemenz said he doesn't worry about Giant Eagle.
"They're easy to compete with," he said.
He said he can offer better prices because Giant Eagle stores are more expensive to operate.
He said he also can offer quality products at good prices because his main supplier is Fleming Companies, which is the country's largest food distributor.
Texas-based Fleming has a centralized ordering system and strategically placed warehouses that allow retailers to keep prices down, he said.
Nemenz is offering a variety of choices for area grocery shoppers. He has traditional stores, bargain stores and a new, in-between option.
His latest creation is Nemenz Dollar Saver Foods, which is under construction at the former Dunham's store in the Boardman Plaza. It will open in about a month.
The store is designed for people who want to save money.
Nemenz said he chose the location because there are plenty of people living near the plaza who are on fixed incomes.
Cashiers will bag groceries for customers, but the store will not have labor-intensive departments such as a bakery or delicatessen.
Nemenz also operates 15 Save-a-Lot stores from Erie, Pa., to Steubenville. These stores keep costs down by having customers bag groceries and not carrying name-brand items.
Nemenz said the key to surviving as a small-business owner is being willing to adapt.
"The only thing you can do to stay in business these days is to come up with new ideas," he said.
Nemenz is exiting one new line of business he tried. He had opened several Strictly A Dollar stores in the late 1990s but now just has one. That store, which is on South Avenue in Youngstown, will be closed as well.
Nemenz bought the former Worldwide Auto Parts warehouse on Southern Boulevard in Youngstown in 1998 to serve as a warehouse for the dollar stores.
Although he doesn't need the warehouse space now, the building is being used by American Farms Produce, which supplies his stores and others in the area. The company is owned by his son, Henry Jr., and sons-in-law Chris Herubin and John Kewcki.
His new Canfield store had been operated by the Yager family until a month ago when he took over. It now is an IGA Supercenter, like his store in Struthers, which he has operated since 1980.
Grand-opening activities begin May 12. By then, shoppers will notice lower prices and more variety, Nemenz said.
He said he heard that the store was for sale because he and the Yagers had the same accountants.
Three sons of the late Michael Yager Sr., who founded the store, are now working for Nemenz. Michael Jr. is the store manager. Richard Yager works in accounting at the Nemenz corporate office in Poland, and George Yager is semiretired but still working in receiving at the Canfield store.
F.G. Nemenz Food Stores, which has stores in Lake Milton, Deerfield and Palmyra, is not connected to Henry Nemenz's operation. Michele Nemenz, the widow of his brother Fred, operates that company.