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Local markets hold steady, purchase of large chain disliked

Iona and Steve Giacoletto own and operate Workmens Market in Helper.

Sun Advocate writer

Despite the fact that some national supermarkets chains have been struggling elsewhere, local grocers have been holding steady and even expanding.

In Helper both the Workmen's and the R&A markets are finding that business has been steady despite the national downturn.

"As far as I can tell we're even with last year and maybe even up," said Dean Armstrong, the new owner of R&A.

One surprising thing is that while both markets are in Helper, they tend to see a lot of patronage from Price.

"Fifty percent (of customers) come from Price," said Steven Giacoletto the owner of Workmen's who attributes this fact to a variety of causes. "A lot of people were raised in the canyons (above Helper) and like to come back."

Giacoletto also knows that his big draw is his meat department because stores in Price don't offer the service that a small local store can on something like meat. But he is also thankful that new highway construction going through the town is complete, because it took a toll on his customer base.

Aside from holding steady, the two business' are happy that they can concentrate on the local niche meat markets and while they do get complaints about variety, they say that they offer what they can with the space available.

"I'm just grateful to be in business, there's a lot going on in the area, and I've seen some new faces around Helper," said Giacoletto.

Although Workmen's and R&A are technically in competition, they seem to get along well and in fact at times share goods and services with each other.

On Tuesday Associated Foods announced it will buy out Alberson's stores across Utah, with the esception of St. George. What the name of these stores will be remains to be seen, but Associated operates Dan's food stores along the Wasatch Front and Linn's food stores in other parts of the state. It appears the Price Albertson's is part of the deal, and that presents some conflicts for both R&A as well Workmen's. Presently they are both distributors of Associated Foods brands, including Western Family products.

"I don't like it at all," said Giacoletto, as he wondered why the sale is taking place. "They're not selling those stores because they're gold mines. We're buying ourselves some competition."

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