- Weis Markets
company_name = Weis Markets, Inc.
company_type = Supermarket and pet store operator; publicly traded | company_slogan = Where Freshness Matters (2006); formerly We Do What Works For You and The Power to Save You More
foundation = 1912 (
Sunbury, Pennsylvania) by Harry and Sigmund Weis
location = flagicon|USA
key_people = Robert Weis, Chairman, Jonathan Weis, Vice Chairman, Norman Rich, CEO, David Hepfinger, President and COO
industry = Retail grocery, pet supplies
products = Operates as Weis Markets, King's, Mr. Z.'s, Cressler's, Scot's Lo-Cost, Superpetz
homepage = [http://www.weismarkets.com/ www.weismarkets.com]
Weis Markets, Inc. is a chain of
supermarkets based in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, with a presence in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Maryland. The company also operates Superpetz, a chain of pet supply stores.
Weis Markets was founded as Weis Pure Foods in 1912 in Sunbury, Pennsylvania by two brothers, Harry and Sigmund Weis. Their store has been noted as "revolutionary", as it did not operate on credit--sales were only for cash. At the time, similar stores operated on credit, allowing customers to build a tab that would be paid periodically. Cash sales were a sign of a growing working class earning steady paychecks--and they also helped lower prices by up to 25%.
The second Weis store opened in 1915 in
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Harrisburg would remain an important market for Weis, helping to anchor the central Pennsylvania region that Weis would dominate for decades.
The Weis brothers expanded their chain rapidly, opening dozens of small, in-town grocery stores throughout central Pennsylvania. Their chain peaked at 115 stores in 15 central Pennsylvania counties by 1933. At the time, the modern self-service supermarket was coming into its own. The format was pitted against the traditional model, followed by Weis Pure Foods, in which customers gave their orders to a clerk who would retrieve the requested items. As the modern supermarket model began to take hold, the Weis brothers began to adapt. They closed several corner grocery stores in Harrisburg in 1938, replacing them with their first self-service, consolidated supermarket, which they dubbed the Weis Super Market. Over the next two decades, the company continued with this strategy, and it had consolidated all of its corner grocery stores into supermarkets--35 in total--by 1955.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Weis Markets (as it was known by then) expanded out of its familiar territory, first reaching York and then Lancaster by 1960. The company expanded into adjacent states in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. In 1967, the company ventured outside of Pennsylvania for the first time. It opened stores in Hagerstown and
Frederick, Maryland, and it also purchased the six-store Albany Public Marketschain based in Albany, New York. Those expansions brought the company to a total of 65 stores. To the west, it expanded to western Pennsylvania, reaching as far west as Altoona and Philipsburg, but has since made no efforts to expand farther west. Weis would later shutter the Albany Public Markets chain. A couple were later occupied by Grand Union. Weis bought at least one former Kings location when the company went out in 1984.
Weis's territorial expansions came with mixed results. A company with rural, central Pennsylvania roots, it was able to expand into the
Baltimore, Maryland, region with great success, taking on such established players as Giant (Landover) and Safeway. The company expanded further in Maryland toward Washington, D.C. and Virginia, with much less success. The Woodbridge, Virginiastore (#125) was picketed by union members. It retreated from that market, first closing most of its stores in Montgomery County, Maryland, and finally closing its Woodbridge, Virginia(#125) and Manassas, Virginia(#136) stores. By 2006, no stores were left in Virginia. Weis' foray into New Jersey came with mixed results as well, as it was forced to close a new store in Flanders in 2002--only two years after opening it. The three stores currently in New Jersey continue to face stiff competition from Supervalu-owned Acme, the Shop Ritecooperative, and, to a lesser extent, A&P.
Today, Weis thrives in the rural areas, small towns, and third class cities of northeastern, central, and southern Pennsylvania. It has successfully expanded to the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre markets, and to the Altoona-State College area, but it has been unable to penetrate the penumbra surrounding Philadelphia (though there is a location in nearby Lansdale) and Pittsburgh.
In addition to the Weis Markets banner, the company operates supermarkets under the King's and Mr. Z's banners. Those two banners are centered primarily in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania and were acquired in mid-1990s acquisitions. While these stores operate under a different banner, all products and even most signs inside the stores feature the Weis name.
Weis also operates one store in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, as Cressler's (a name that was part of the local marketplace for decades before Weis took over that store), operates some stores as Sav-a-Lot under license from Supervalu, and operates some supermarkets as Scot's Lo-Cost, an experimental warehouse prototype. At one time, the company operated a few stores as Big-Top Market, but as of 2006, no more stores exist under this banner. Weis also owns and operates the Superpetz pet store chain.
Weis's chief competition comes in its traditional home base of central Pennsylvania. Giant (Carlisle), a supermarket chain owned by
Ahold, began aggressive expansion during the 1990s, building newer, larger stores with vast selections. The expansion caught Weis off-guard. While Weis was able to kick into gear with an expansion project of its own, it has not yet fully recovered. Giant still remains the market leader throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania.
Weis also faces tough competition in
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Although it is the market leader, Giant (Carlisle) and Stauffer's of Kissel Hill are major competitors.
In Maryland, Weis competes with Acme, Safeway, and Giant (Landover).
In New Jersey, Weis's chief competition includes
A&P, Acme, and Shop Rite.
Private label brands
Weis Markets sells a variety of house brands under the following private labels:
*From the Field (produce)
*Weis Five Star (premium, co-branded with distinctive manufacturers)
*Weis Choice (advertised as equivalent to national brands)
*The Way It Was (former house brand for health and beauty aids; has been eliminated)
*From The Dock (seafood)
*From The Oven (bakery)
*Weis Steakhouse Angus (meat)
*Weis PA Proud Choice Angus Beef
* Robert Weis — Chairman
* Jonathan Weis - Vice Chairman, Secretary
* Norman Rich - CEO, Director
* David Hepfinger - President and COO
* William Mills — CFO, Senior Vice President, Treasurer, Director
* Wayne Bailey - Vice President Merchandising
* Harry Giglio - Vice President Perishables
* Jay Ropietski - Vice President Store Operations
* Jim Marcil - Vice President Human Resources
* Dan Kessler - Vice President Procurement and Private Label
* Jeff Maltese - Vice President Pharmacy
* Ed Rakoskie - Vice President Operations
* Joe Kleman - Vice President Distribution
upreme Court Case
The Weis supermarket in Park Hills Plaza along U.S. Route 220 in
Altoona, Pennsylvaniawas the subject of a key 1960s United States Supreme Court case concerning the "public forum doctrine." The Court held that a union picket in the supermarket parcel pickup area and parking lot was permissible because the "shopping center here is clearly the functional equivalent to the business district" of a city. Amalgamated Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza, Inc., 391 U.S. 308 (1968).
*DeKok, David. "The Weis Dynasty." "The Patriot-News",
February 20, 1994.
*Southall, Brook. "Old-Line Weis Plans Basket of Changes." "Central Penn Business Journal",
June 14, 1996.
*Weis Markets Annual Report, 1967 [http://www.weisproject.com/report.php]
*Weis Markets Web Site [http://www.weismarkets.com]
* Weis Markets' recent SEC filings, annual reports and public announcements
* [http://www.weis.com Weis Markets Corporate Site]
* [http://www.weisproject.com Weis Markets History Site]
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