ELDERSBURG — Shoppers at George's Superthrift grocery stores should be starting to notice some changes on the shelves and at the cash register.
Instead of Red & White and Our Value products, IGA and First Choice items are going up as the store changes from Superthrift to IGA.
"I just thought by joining IGA it would help my organization," said owner George Mezar--. "The main change will be lower prices -- about 4,000 prices will be lowered, mostly in grocery, dairy and frozen foods."
The Eldersburg store opened in 1963 on Liberty Road.
Since then, George's has expanded to a total of six full-size -- including one in the Finksburg Shopping Plaza -- and four convenience stores in Carroll, Howard and Frederick counties, employing approximately 500 people.
Mezar-- said the company is switching from Scrivner, an Oklahoma-based wholesaler with facilities in Pennsylvania, to the more local IGA wholesaler, B. Green in Arbutus, Baltimore County.
"They're the biggest wholesaler in Maryland," Mezar-- noted. "They have a full line of products and if we need something else (they don't have), they'll buy it for us."
Founded in 1926, the Independent Grocers Alliance is an $8 billion organization owned by 25 wholesalers who supply IGA stores through 60 distribution centers scattered aroundthe country.
IGA is the fourth-largest grocery supplier in the country.
Growing competition was a big factor in the switch over, Mezar-- said.
For many years, George's and SuperFresh in Carrolltowne Mall were the only two grocery stores in the Eldersburg-Sykesville area.
Two years ago, the Freedom Village Shopping Center, with a Martin's food store, opened directly across the street.
"Martin's made it more competitive," Mezar-- said.
He acknowledged the store lost some business when Martin's opened, but is hoping the IGA changewill bring more customers in, not only to Eldersburg, but to all hisstores.
The lower prices, of course, will be the biggest factor in bringing in customers.
Debbie Anderson has been working for two weeks changing the shelf price labels.
"A lot of prices are down 20 cents or more," she said.
Just some examples of the new prices: Kellogg's Pop Tarts are dropping from $1.65 to $1.49; a box of fruit snacks is $2.04, down from $2.19; a three-ounce box of Jell-O is a nickel less; Quaker instant cereal is now $2.44, down from $2.61.
The higher the price, the more savings in many cases, Anderson said.
Shoppers in the store last week were beginning to notice the changes.
"I saw a few different products," Kathy Jessee of Taylorsville said while shopping the dairy aisle. "I look for products and prices, so I will check out things."
But another reason Jessee said she likes George's is because the service is better than anywhere else.
Donna Gable of Woodbine noticed the lower prices two weeks ago.
"Iexpected my bill to be $120 and it was $97, so I've noticed the difference," she said, adding she's a George's regular.
Mezar-- said the new IGA signs should be up at all stores within the next two weeks, then George's will have a grand opening sale that probably will continue through most of this month.