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Bottom Dollar Food opens new store in Hilltown

News Source: Souderton Independent

MONDAY, AUGUST 19, 2013

Hilltown resident Tom Zagorski was happy to see the new Bottom Dollar Food store open the morning of Aug. 15 in County Line Plaza at Route 113 and County Line Road.

He already knew about the business from having shopped at the company’s Chalfont and Montgomeryville stores before those closed.

“We frequented them and have anxiously awaited the opening of this store,” Zagorski said after doing his shopping.

“The store’s nice and clean,” Zagorski said. “They have plenty of help today. I hope it’s going to be that way all the time.”

With the opening of the new store, he would have liked to see additional handicapped parking spaces at the shopping center, but it appears the number of handicapped parking spots stayed the same, Zagorski said.

The new store is in space that was previously part of the neighboring VF Outlet.

“I bought everything I’m wearing today next door,” Hilltown Township Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Barbara Salvadore told the crowd of people lined up to enter the store following the ribbon cutting.

The new store helps the entire shopping center and the community, she said.

“This is really good,” Salvadore said. “What an opportunity for people to have a choice of where to shop.”

Known as the chain’s Souderton store, it actually is just across County Line Road in Hilltown Township.

“I know that my wife is planning on shopping here because of the proximity,” Souderton Mayor John Reynolds said. “I’m looking forward to having some of its fresh produce and meats on our table very shortly.”

Along with adding another place for local people to shop, he said, the store also brings new jobs.

Harleysville resident Jeff Katz is the store’s manager.

“Everybody keeps saying ‘Welcome to the neighborhood,’” Katz said. “I say, ‘I am from the neighborhood.’”

Katz, a former Walmart grocery manager, said he has worked for Bottom Dollar for about two years at the Quakertown and Chalfont stores.

“As a discount grocer, you can’t beat our prices. We’ve got great prices,” Katz said. “That’s what all these people have been waiting for.”

The store opened with 42 employees, but that might be increasing to about 50, he said.

Store hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

With the local store and another one in Homestead, Pa., which also opened Aug. 15, Bottom Dollar has 58 stores in New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to company information. This is the 39th in the Philadelphia area, it said.

“We invite residents in the surrounding area to come out and experience Bottom Dollar Food’s unbelievable prices on fresh produce, quality meats, private brands and the national brands that matter most to customers,” Bottom Dollar Food President Meg Ham was quoted in a release.

All of the stores are about 18,000 square feet in size.

“It’s easy to navigate, but you can still do your full food shopping here,” said Erin DeWaters, manager of external communications for the company that is based in Salisbury, N.C.

The company guarantees it will beat the prices at other stores, she said.

“If a customer brings in a competitor’s ad [with a better price], we’ll always beat that price by a penny,” DeWaters said.

There are also always $1 deals on household and health and beauty items, she said.

People who register for free Bottom Dollar membership cards receive coupons for additional savings when they use the card, Katz said. The coupons are based on what the person has previously purchased, so customers get discounts on the products they’re most interested in, he said.

Slogans painted on the store wall included “Our prices are cut to the bone” and “Pretty darn close to a free lunch.”

“We try to have a little fun with the shopping experience,” DeWaters said.

Store employees wore T-shirts with the message, “I work here and even I can’t get a better deal.”

The first customer in line for the 8 a.m. opening arrived at 4 a.m., Katz and DeWaters said.

The first 200 customers received a free Bottom Dollar reusable bag filled with groceries.

“The goody bag is a nice treat,” Zagorski said as he loaded his into his car trunk along with groceries he had purchased.

Items in the gift bag included soda, paper towels, oatmeal cookies, chips, pancake/waffle mix and syrup.

“You get to keep the bag, too, which is normally 99 cents,” Zagorski said.

Opening ceremonies for the store also included a $1,600 donation to Philabundance to help support the Fresh for All program, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need.

About 200 families take part each week in the program’s distributions held 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays at Grace Bible Church in Souderton, Eliav Decter, Philabundance senior grant manager, said.

Bottom Dollar will also be contributing food on a regular basis to Keystone Opportunity Center in Souderton, he said.

“Last month, we served 257 households, which is a big increase for us. On average, we do about 220 a month,” Cindy Dembrosky, Keystone Opportunity Center’s food pantry coordinator, said. “It’s scary that the numbers are going up, so this is a great opportunity to be able to feed more people.”

Other food pantries are also seeing an increase in the number of people needing help, Decter said.

“The need is actually increasing even as the economy’s slowly recovering,” he said.

The group of food pantries Philabundance works with have seen a 29 percent increase in users in the past year, he said.

“Over the last three years, it’s a 98 percent increase,” Decter said. “There are a lot of hungry folks out there.”

The new store also provides jobs, Dembrosky said. Two Keystone Opportunity Center clients were among the people hired for the store, she said.

“The other nice thing is we’ll be able to get fresh produce year round,” she said.

Right now, the pantry is getting a lot of fresh produce donations from home gardeners, but that will end when the growing season is over, she said.

Along with fresh produce, Bottom Dollar also contributes meats and dairy items, Decter said.

“It’s stuff that a lot of food pantries have trouble getting their hands on, and this’ll provide a steady supply,” he said.

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