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Ingles grocery sprouts in South Hall

CEO touts variety, doesn’t worry about competition in area

POSTED: June 23, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

The new Ingles grocery store at 4260 Winder Highway in South Hall opens this Saturday. It is Ingles' second location in Hall County.

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The expansion of new retail shopping in South Hall County gains another player on Saturday as Ingles, the North Carolina-based supermarket chain, opens a store at 4260 Winder Highway, near the Martin Road intersection.

"This is an 80,000-square-foot store with a pharmacy, a fuel center and a car wash," said Ron Freeman, chief financial officer of Ingles.

The chain operates 197 stores in six Southeastern states, with Georgia having the highest number of the company’s stores.

The new store is the latest full-service facility for Ingles.

"With gas prices where they are, we want our customers to be able to make one stop and get most everything they need. In addition to a grocery store, having a pharmacy, gas station and a car wash allows people to do that," he said.

Freeman readily admits that Ingles operates in a competitive marketplace.

Less than a quarter of a mile away, Kroger is building a new supermarket. Nearby at Blackshear Place, there is a Publix supermarket, and just beyond Interstate 985 is a Wal-Mart Supercenter that includes a food store.

"If you look at recent activity, a lot of our stores are bigger than our competitors," Freeman said. "We can offer a wide variety of products, as well as a deli section, bakery section and even a book section. We’ve got a very broad product offering, but if you don’t have good prices and customer service to go along with that, you won’t be successful."

Company founder Robert "Bob" Ingle opened his first supermarket in Asheville, N.C., in 1963. Ingle made his initial expansion into towns in North Carolina and South Carolina that were not being served by larger chains.

He continued his expansion into Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Virginia. The company has a location in North Hall at 3356 Thompson Bridge Road.

With the new store, the company wants to appeal to a broad base of customers, including those who are looking for organic goods.

"Within the store, we try to have special signage that makes it easy for customers to find organic products, whether it’s in produce, meat, frozen foods or canned goods," Freeman said.

Kit Dunlap, president and chief executive of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said the store is another example of the retail expansion into the growing area.

"Retail follows rooftops and income numbers," Dunlap said, adding that the new developments continue to expand services. "Convenience means a lot to people. They’re not going to drive all over the county when they can go to one shopping facility and accomplish many tasks."

Hall County Commissioner Bobby Banks, who represents the area, said the store is good news.

"I’ve always supported quality commercial development that fits into South Hall," Banks said. "The Ingles store will contribute in both property and sales taxes, while serving the community’s needs."

The store will have its grand opening on Saturday.



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