A leap of faith

Every time we decide to open a new Hiller’s we take a mighty leap of faith. I suppose from a distance it appears to be an uncomplicated act of merely replicating the past. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The decision of where to locate a new store can take months, even years. It takes into account current residences and forecasts of future rooftops within a 4 mile radius. A grocery cannot succeed in a vacuum . We must have lots of houses nearby. The balancing act is that we seek an area that is in a growth phase and not its dotage because families with kids make the best customers. They tend to eat at home often instead of  going to restaurants .

Once we’ve chosen the site or at least the area, next comes the decision of the size of the store. In the years I’ve been in the grocery business the so-called ideal size has gone from about 18,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet and now many believe to as much as 125,000 square feet. From where I sit a full-service grocery should be around 45,0000 or 50,000 square feet. Our newest location in South Lyon is 53,000 square feet. We plumped up a bit to add a demo kitchen and wine and beer bar.

Once we’ve made the decisions of location and size the real fun starts. We begin the design of the store layout. This amounts to hundreds of small choices that are made by an arm wrestle between our design and operations team on one side and our financial group on the other. The justification for and price of each refrigerated case, shelf and accoutrement must be argued and decided . After all..small businesses like ours don’t have the money in the bank to build a store. We must borrow it from a bank and sadly they expect us to pay it back and not consider it a gift. Once we’ve put our design and our specifications on paper we begin the process of negotiating with banks to find one who is willing to provide the financing for our leap of faith.

From the inception to the store opening can easily take 3 or 4 years. During that time, like a small boat in a storm, we are buffeted by the economy, differing food trends, vagaries of consumer preference and even changes in the financial markets.

At long last, we open the doors of a new Hiller’s with fingers crossed for luck and with the full knowledge that for our leap of faith to succeed we must do our very best every day to give our customers the quality, service and shopping experience they desire.

Our newest location at 10-Mile Road and Johns Road in South Lyon took almost 5 years to complete. I welcome your review of our latest leap of faith


Comments

A leap of faith — 4 Comments

  1. Living in Brighton, I’m very happy to have a store open closer to me. The selection and quality of seafood, meat, produce, beer, and wine at South Lyon are every bit of what I had come to expect based on my previous experiences in other Hiller’s stores. I certainly appreciate the expanded selection in the bakery, too. I haven’t experienced the wine bar yet, but I’m looking forward to it soon.

    Having lived in Pennsylvania, I had easy access to one of Wegman’s flagship stores. One thing that they did very well was to have a small (~30 seat) restaurant in the store space, with recipes available to direct shoppers in recreating the restaurant offerings at home. I’d love to see something like that in the wine bar area at the new Hiller’s store, and I think it could be done, given the location next to the service deli. Beyond that, about the only thing I would have loved to see in the new store would have been fresh tortillas made in-house, but I get why that may not have been the best use of available space.

    Overall, I’m very happy to have my new favorite local option for grocery shopping. Thanks, Jim.

  2. So excited to have you in Lyon Township. I have been waiting patiently for you to open. It is so nice to finally have a grocery option on that long stretch of desolate 10 Mile Road on my way to and from work. I’ve stopped in several times already and am so grateful. The store is always well stocked and the staff always friendly and helpful. Welcome to the neighborhood, Hillers!!

  3. Visisted your store last weekend on my way to Dexter from Novi. Beautiful store with great staff! I wish I lived closer (although I do LOVE your Ann Arbor location).

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Love having the new Hiller’s open finally. I have been there probably about eight times since it opened about seven weeks ago. The produce is outstanding, as it is also at the other Hiller locations. Having the meat department is wonderful and something the other grocery stores in the area don’t have, until only recently at Busch’s, who I’m sure did that to compete with Hillers. I used to have to go at least 5 miles to a grocery store, now only 1 and 1/2 miles. Some might say the prices are higher than other stores in the area, but with the rewards program I’ve found it more than evens out in the end. The only suggestion I’d have is that the wine bar should be near the wine section. It should offer $2 or $3 “tastings” so that customers might opt to buy a bottle of what they just tasted. I for one would never sit down at a wine bar at a grocery store and order an $8 or $9 glass of wine. Also would like it if you had liquor available to purchase, instead of just beer and wine. All in all, I am very happy that you are finally open. I’ve been a Hillers fan for years at the 14 Mile and Haggerty store, as well as Northville, and the one at Five Mile and Haggerty, often going out of my way to shop at there. Now living in South Lyon, this one is my ‘go to’ store.

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