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Sandy Ridge Express’ grand opening last month completes a long-time vision for the Brown family. Store Manager and co-owner Brandon Brown explains that his father Marty Brown opened Sandy Ridge supermarket at Sandy Ridge Station in Orbisonia 18 years ago, and eventually planned to add a convenience store. In April, the plan came to fruition as the 4,800 square foot convenience store and A&W restaurant opened across the parking lot from the supermarket.
“The convenience store has been in the works for a while,” Brown says. “The timing had to be right and we needed to be comfortable so that we could offer fuel rewards.”
Supermarket customers can use their ShurSave Gold frequent shopper card to receive rewards of 10 cents per gallon for every $100 spent in the store. They automatically receive three cents off per gallon for using the Gold card. The Brown’s plan to cross-market promotions for the supermarket and c-store.
The store offers the Sunoco fuel brand and features four fueling stations to serve eight customers, including diesel fuel dispensers. The convenience store is 2,800 square feet with a wide selection of chilled beverages, New England Coffee Company, snacks and grocery items, grab and go prepared items and lottery. All the food items are prepared fresh daily at the supermarket.
On the other side of the building is the 2,000 square foot A&W Restaurant. The Browns already had experience with franchise restaurants, since they have a Subway in the supermarket. They selected A&W based on the recommendation of their fuel company and following a “discovery” visit to the company’s headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky.
“They have a small town nostalgia feel, and they want to do business in small towns,” Brandon says. “The process went well. We took our blueprints, which they really appreciated.”
Once they decided it was a good fit and both parties were comfortable, Brandon and another associate went to Lexington for a thorough training session. Now that the store is open, A&W continues to provide support through advertising, inspections and training.
The Browns celebrated the new c-store/restaurant grand opening on July 21 with a ribbon cutting and 3-days of specials. The A&W restaurant offered food specials, a prize wheel with opportunities to win free root beer floats for a year, and company mascot appearances. Meanwhile, the convenience store featured free coffee and donuts and fireworks. They also hosted a book signing with local author Peggy Ann Jackson, who wrote a book about her experience as a kidnap victim in the state’s largest manhunt 52 years ago.
Brown says customers’ reaction to the convenience store and restaurant is very positive. After just four months, the A&W is already ranked 5th in sales for the northeast.
A lot has changed during the 18 years since Marty Brown got into the the supermarket business. Brandon Brown was a college student at Shippensburg University when the store opened and he eventually decided that the family business was a good place to put his business degree to work. His father expanded the supermarket in 2003 and he joined the company in 2007. He took on the store manager role and the day to day operations in 2011. Marty Brown regularly stops by to discuss business with him, work in the store and have lunch, and he spends time at the funeral home that he also operates. His son Tyler, who has an IT degree, is studying at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, so that he can run the funeral home.
Their father has passed down his passion for serving his customers.
“I know three-quarters of the people that walk through the store and I enjoy seeing the customers on a daily basis,” Brown says.