Community Supermarket bringing in competitor for pharmacy services
Call it preventative maintenance.
In an effort to compete with large grocery chains and the ever-growing internet economy, the owner of Community Supermarket in Penn Hills has invited a competitor into his store.
“We’re the little guys – there aren’t many of us alive after 92 years in business,” said Howard “Howie” Rosenberg, third-generation owner of the supermarket chain.
Rosenberg hopes to open a Giant Eagle pharmacy in his grocery store on Milltown Road in Penn Hills by early October. Work crews have been remodeling an area that used to be shelving for produce and beverages since early September.
“We have a good relationship with Giant Eagle,” Rosenberg said. The 55-year-old businessman from Fox Chapel is also an independent operator of the Giant Eagle on Allegheny Boulevard in Verona – a venture that has been in the family since 1983.
His grandfather, Louis Rosenberg, started the Community Supermarket in the Penn Hills area in 1927, according to the business’s website. The chain expanded when his sons, Paul and Jerry, opened additional branches in 2001 and 2002. George Thimons is a co-owner with Rosenberg.
Howard Rosenberg said he became owner about 10 years ago. Although the business has not had to cut from its staff of roughly 350, Rosenberg has been feeling the pressures of keeping the business afloat as more area family-owned businesses fold.
The grocery store that offers produce, meats, a deli, baked goods and a floral shop has made upgrades to keep up with convenient services such as online ordering and curbside pickup.
“It’s tough to make profits. Sales have gone down the last four or five years,” Rosenberg said.
In addition to the pharmacy at the Penn Hills location, Rosenberg hopes to have online ordering and curbside pickup at all the grocery stores soon. The problem, he said, is the cost. He estimates those services will end up costing around $50,000 for all three locations.
“If we can get (curbside pickup) that would be a game changer,” he said.
The in-store pharmacy likely will employ two pharmacists and four technicians, Rosenberg said. However, that side of the business will be handled by Giant Eagle.
Dick Roberts, a Giant Eagle spokesperson, said the grocery chain is excited to work with Rosenberg in this way.
“In addition to owning the Verona Giant Eagle, the Rosenbergs also utilize Giant Eagle for sourcing many of the products offered in their Community Market locations. This longstanding relationship led to what we believe will be a meaningful new pharmacy service for Penn Hills Community Market customers,” Roberts said in an email.
He said Giant Eagle has opened other pharmacies in stores like Community Supermarket.
“We believe that the commitment our knowledgeable pharmacy team members have to offering high quality customer service and great overall value makes our pharmacy a welcoming option for retail partners and customers alike,” he said.
Rosenberg is excited for what the pharmacy might mean for his business.
“It’s a way to hopefully do better, to offer this service,” Rosenberg said. “We think it will be a better fit for our customers, and we hope it drives more business.”
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.