BY LINDA BAKER
Greg Sandeno (center) and community members at the August opening of the Philomath C&K Market
Two trends currently dominate the supermarket industry: concerns about price and locally grown, locally procured food. In that environment, Brookings-based C&K Market is carving out its own niche. “We’re not Whole Foods, but we’re not a down-and-dirty ma-and-pa,” says Greg Sandeno, CEO of the independent grocery chain. “We’re a community store offering local quality and a fresh product.”
It’s a strategy that has proved successful for the family-owned business, which was founded in 1956 and operates 65 stores and pharmacies under the banners Ray’s Food Place, C&K Market, Shop Smart and Pharmacy Express.
Five years ago, C&K grossed $425 million and operated 57 stores, mostly in rural Oregon and California. In 2011 the company, which employs 2,400, grossed $500 million. The company, which grows by acquisition, acquired three new stores this past year in the Oregon towns of Talent, Drain and Philomath.
C&K recently launched its first loyalty card program, including coupons, personalized offers and points-based discounts. The program helps the company target its products and services to fit the different markets it serves.
“Instead of taking the shotgun and trying to hit something, we’re using a scalpel,” says C&K marketing director Grant Lunde. The chain is also putting more emphasis on “hyperlocal” food, Sandeno says, engaging with local farmers and purveyors to provide products made or grown close to the store.
The big chains such as Fred Meyer are competing on price, says Sandeno. “We’re here to be the local friend.”