The metro-area grocery market bid farewell to the final Albertsons banner Friday. Homeland Stores and Williams Discount Foods have rebranded stores for almost two weeks. The new logos go up on the last few stores today. Associated Wholesale Grocers, a grocery co-op and distributor, bought 23 Oklahoma Albertsons stores in June, along with the retailer's Fort Worth distribution center. After a confidential bidding process, co-op members Homeland and Williams announced plans to purchase 13 metro-area stores. The purchase price was not disclosed. "We changed three last week, and one today and two more Thursday and Friday,” Jeff Williams, co-owner of Williams Discount Foods, said Wednesday. His Tuttle-based grocery chain acquired six Albertsons grocery stores. "We're keeping the blue lettering,” he said. "The reason is, you don't want to change the pharmacy and the food and the drug (signs) that's already up there. We've done that in a lot of stores we've taken over. We've done red signs, we've done blue signs. It's really just the ease of change.” It's also cheaper to do so, Williams said. "These are beautiful stores. All we want to do is make them affordable for people to shop in,” he said. Besides the pricing structure, not much will change. Williams said. "The pricing has dropped dramatically,” he said. "All your cosmetics and general merchandise has gone down.” Customers won't be disappointed at the meat counter, either, he said. He's adding certified angus beef, not previously carried by Albertsons. Shoppers also may notice that beer is missing from the product mix at the new Williams stores. Williams doesn't sell beer in any of its 15 stores. "My mother asked us not to in 1988, when we were formed, and we honored her words, and we will continue to honor her,” he said. "Our family is extremely strong in our faith.” Homeland Stores acquired seven stores in the transaction, with a goal from the beginning to make as few changes as possible. For the most part, they've reached that goal, said company spokewoman Kelly Epperson. "We admired the job Albertsons was doing in the market. They ran great stores,” she said. "The customers were thrilled with the service, and we wanted to continue that.” Some changes were out of their hands, she said. "For instance, there were two Starbucks' in Norman. They made the decision to leave, not us. We wanted to continue that relationship,” she said. Like Williams, the biggest change at the new Homeland stores will be cheaper prices. "We've literally lowered prices on 3,000 items in the stores,” she said. Store manager Lori Burns said the transition has been nearly seamless. "That was the customers' biggest fear that (Homeland) wouldn't have variety, but they're pleasantly surprised,” she said. Burns said there are perks to having a distribution center in Oklahoma City. "Being locally based, we have more variety than we had with Albertsons,” she said. "It's more convenient. If we run out of something, we can just run up and get it.”
Tulsa area sees Food Pyramid stores pop upNine former-Albertsons supermarkets and three fuel centers are opening under a new name — Food Pyramid — following a change in ownership from Albertsons LLC to Springfield, Mo.-based RPCS Inc. Six Tulsa supermarkets will don the new banner, along with stores in Bartlesville, Stillwater and Ponca City. RPCS Inc. also operates Ramey, Price Cutter Plus, and Smitty's stores. There are plans for full-service Starbucks, $3 prescriptions program in all store pharmacies, a larger selection of natural, organic, international foods, fresh sushi, and online shopping and delivery service in the Tulsa area.