Super Fresh Food Markets is opening a store in the city for the first time in three years, challenging Giant Food Inc. in one of the rival chain's most successful locations.
A 40,000-square-foot Super Fresh opening today in Hampden will try to meet Giant on its own turf, said Herb Whiteside, vice president for Super Fresh's Mid-Atlantic Group.
The supermarket, anchor of a new strip shopping center at 41st Street and Hickory Avenue, will be bigger and have better parking and more competitive pricing than the nearby Giant in the Rotunda on 41st Street, Mr. Whiteside said.
The 23-year-old Giant store -- just a few blocks from its rival -- has become one of the most profitable for the chain, the area's largest grocer.
Super Fresh has spent three years negotiating with developers, city officials and area residents to open its newest supermarket, on the former site of the Greenspring Dairy. Residents told Super Fresh officials they wanted a store with wide aisles and a good selection of fresh produce.
"We have a much nicer store and more variety," Mr. Whiteside said, making a comparison to Giant. "We have all the departments Giant has, a full floral shop and bakery and deli."
The 400-worker store also will have an ethnic food section, roll bins, sandwich bar, cheese island, salad bar, seafood department and butcher shop, he said.
Giant is betting that loyal customers will continue to shop at the Rotunda, which has updated its appearance over the years.
Still, Giant plans to take no chances, opting instead to fight back with special promotions, said Barry Scher, vice president of public affairs.
In one deal, residents near the Rotunda were sent coupons redeemable for free merchandise. A package of coupons dated Jan. 9 through Feb. 5 -- four for each week -- offer free soda, buttermilk biscuits, flour, muffins, cold medicine, soup, bread and margarine.
"To maintain customers and attract new customers, you continually have to be promotion-minded," Mr. Scher said.
Super Fresh opened its last stores three years ago on Frederick Avenue in the city, in Elkridge and in Westminster. Since then, the 132-store chain has worked on building the Hampden store.
The shopping center -- yet to be named -- also has a Rite Aid, Blockbuster Video and smaller shops. Super Fresh will be open 24 hours daily.
"We were fortunate to get a good location with a very dense population. It's hard to get land in that area," Mr. Whiteside said.