Ukrop’s up for sale

There have been some rumblings around town over the last couple weeks concerning the future of Ukrop’s Super Markets. Well, folks, it looks like Bobby and Jim are selling…

There have been some rumblings around town over the last couple weeks concerning the future of Ukrop’s Super Markets. Well, folks, it looks like Bobby and Jim are selling…

Food World (a grocery-industry publication operating out of Maryland) is reporting that Ukrop’s has put out feelers for bids on their 28 locations:

Of course, there is no guarantee that any bidder would pay the premium price that acquiring Ukrop’s would likely demand. And even if that price were met, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the deal be pulled by the Ukrop family which has a deep emotional attachment to the community and to the company itself, which was founded when Joe and Jacquelin Ukrop opened their first grocery store on Hull Street in Richmond in 1937.

While newer competition may have been able to match Ukrop’s beautiful stores and perishables-driven format, a key differential which has also adversely impacted the company is its policy of not opening on Sundays, now the busiest shopping day of the week. Ukrop’s also does not sell beer or wine at its stores. Additionally, two of Ukrop’s newer stores outside the core Richmond market – Roanoke and its second unit in Williamsburg – have struggled, with the Williamsburg unit closing last year.

We reported last month that Ukrop’s saw a dip in its market share, losing the top spot (which they had held since 1986) to Food Lion.

Go here to read the full article from Food World.* And be sure to let us know your thoughts.

(Thanks to Richmond Magazine and Brandon Fox for the tip.)


Here’s a statement from Bobby Ukrop.

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. word is Harris & teeter a grocery store chain along the east coast is buying. i have many friends that work for the company and i used to work there myself. IT’s true!!!

  2. bopst on said:

    why are they selling is the question in my mind…

  3. bopst on said:

    Why? Are they losing money or something?

  4. b z on said:

    Harris Teeter romour has been going around, HT was going to build a distribution center in King George County but that project is now on hold, prolly because a Ukrop purchase would come with enough distribution support to handle things for a while

  5. MidloMama on said:

    Well that sucks…. I like the store and the people working there.

  6. Liberty on said:

    The Ukrops have been doing well in banking, first market bank, and the grocery business has been seeing their profit margins decline because of competition from the likes of wal-mart. So they are gonna focus on banking. I think Ukrops has gone downhill in the last few years because they have been focusing on banking.

  7. chris on said:

    If it’s true I hope Wegmans fills the void not Harris Teeter

  8. bopst on said:

    I’ll take Ukrops over Wal-Mart every single time…

  9. DamnYankee on said:

    When I moved down here everybody was like Ukrops Ukrops Ukrops, but if you ever lived up north and have been to a Wegmann’s you would never be so impressed, as a matter of Fact a Wegmann’s just opened up outside DC in Lorton or someplace and I drove the hopur and a half just to go there

  10. Joss on said:

    “I like the store and the people working there.”

    Well don’t expect many workers to be fired.
    It’s hard to find grocery employees in Richmond.

  11. I really like Ukrops, the selection is great, the people are great, the service is great. The prices are not great. I don’t blame Ukrops for having higher prices. They have fewer stores than the big chains, so they are not able to get the best deals like the big guys.

    I wish things were different, but the only place I can currently afford to shop is Food Lion. Nothing is great about Food Lion except for their prices. Right now, price rules. It’s too bad, but that’s just the way it is.

  12. Eric on said:

    I have heard this rumor for many years about HT. But if the rumor is to come true –I’m happy it ‘s HT and not Food Lion…

  13. MidloMama on said:

    I don’t doubt for a minute that smaller, older, less profitable stores will be closed, and the hundreds of people who work for Ukrop’s behind the scene in the headquarters may also be in danger. We saw from Circuit City a lot more people work for a store than you just see in there.

  14. tiny on said:

    It is no mystery – the reason Ukrops lost its top spot is because it is just too expensive. I bought seven basic items at Ukrops yesterday – cereal, milk, cat food, canned beans, ground beef, juice boxes, and a box of little debbie cakes. My bill was over $20. I bought six bags of groceries at Food Lion and my bill was just over $50.

    I like Ukrops and its prepared foods. But for groceries, I will stick to Food Lion or Kroger because it is silly to pay so much more for same basic things.

  15. Tim on said:

    Good riddance! I am so sick of having to exchange pleasantries with their stupid bag boys walking me to my car. I will routinely buy only enough that I can carry myself to avoid this. Their produce has begun to suck as well. Harris Teeter is a far better market. Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Harris Teeter finally we can say goodbye!!!

  16. BK on said:

    This is upsetting to me for a variety of reasons. I love that Richmond has a great grocery store chain that can compete with national and international stores. While I love farmer’s markets and CSAs, I do not live very close to any, so having a small grocery store with local options being conveniently located is something I will miss. It’s a shame people focus on Ukrop’s supposed high prices without realizing that the price you pay at the register is not the real cost of food. I have never walked out of Ukrop’s feeling like I overpaid.

    I hope this sale does not happen and Ukrop’s stays open. I would miss my Saturday morning breakfast pizza!

  17. Jesse on said:

    We also have to think about the hundreds of Supervalu employees in Mechanicsville that may lose their jobs if Ukrops is sold. Ukrops is their largest customer by a large margin. This will be in addition to the hundreds more Ukrops employees who will be laid off. Just what Richmond needs!

  18. doublelyblessed on said:

    I REALLY hope that this is all still rumor as it has been before. Thanks to MidloMama for mentioning those support folks, like my husband, that will more than likely be out of a job when/if this happens. He works in the manufacturing plant and unless Harris Teeter or some of the other chains keep up with all of the prepared foods like Ukrop’s has, he will certainly be among the unemployed.

  19. tiny on said:

    Don’t get me wrong – I want to support Ukrops. But I have a tight budget and it is simply too expensive. If they want to improve their market share, they cannot ignore that fact. If they do, they are doomed.

  20. Between Whole Foods fruits and veggies and Trader Joes frozen stuff, we don’t hit Ukrop’s very often anymore…. so I guess it matters not to me. Harris Teeter… it’s like Kroger, except a little nicer.

    I hear the family interest has declined more than anything. So it’s not that they are trying to dump a dying chain. Maybe they are tired of saying “paper or plastic?”.

  21. pjb on said:

    I wish Wegman’s would buy em out….

    The sunday crap drives me nuts, maybe mostly because no one seems to have told Kroger that Ukrops is closed on sundays.
    My first night in Richmond I walked around ukrops, up and down every aisle like 6 times looking for beer until I asked a stock guy.
    whatever. Harris Teeter was nice when I lived down in Athens, but Wegmans would be wonderful.

  22. It jjust makes me heart sick to think of Ukrops closing. Ukrops is the ONLY retail store of ANY stripe left on the planet that I believe truly cares about their customers. They are also great community neighbors, involved in every good work you can think of. Their food is wholesome, fresh & fairly priced (you get what you pay for). You gotta know how to shop Ukrops. When they have a sale on something, it usually stays on sale for a long time….. so that’s when you stock up. Otherwise, you just shop for basics & wait for the sales… lol. I have been shopping with Ukrops for over 30 yrs and have never had a complaint or a problem. Ukrops will even order special stuff for you if they have access to the item(s). Nobody will ever look out for you like Ukrops. I thank them for all the good years and wish them well. But I wish they would think twice !!! We will miss them…

  23. Blake on said:

    I can’t say I have a long history here in Richmond, but definitely sucks to see local businesses closing. If you’ve ever worked retail, you would appreciate having a day of during the week.

    I too come from the land of wegmans, but I think it would cold in a very hot place before they ever considered it. Wegmans is all about building brand new, gigantic suburban stores. I don’t think they’d even flinch at the opportunity of taking over 28 small town properties.

  24. bcat on said:

    Meh. I almost never shop there. I buy a lot of wine and beer at the supermarket, and the Sunday thing drives me crazy, too, and the prepared foods section is nothing to write home about, and the selection was always less than impressive, and honestly, their prices, especially for produce, really are higher than at other chain stores. I like the idea of keeping the money in the area, but the bottom line is, Ukrop’s gave me too many reasons to NOT shop there, and it doesn’t break my heart to see them bought out. Although if the Harris-Teeters in NoVA are any indication, their prices aren’t going to be any better, so I guess I’ll remain a Kroger shopper.

  25. Tammy on said:

    I don’t understand the hating on Ukrop’s, bagboys, complaining about their prices, etc. I love Ukrops — if you don’t, don’t shop there. WTH is the big deal about avoiding a store you don’t like? It’s not as though there aren’t choices in Richmond.

  26. Lara on said:

    I can’t believe this is happening. I LOVE Ukrop’s! People outside of Richmond never understand. When I went off to college one of the things I missed the most was Ukrop’s. I couldn’t wait to get back and get a Bar Cake or those cookies with the frosting on top. My family always gets their Thanksgiving Dinner there. Shopping there reminds me of home and growing up. Its always so clean and cheering. Harris Teeter or those other stores are alright but don’t have the same charm. Ukrop’s is one of the things that makes Richmond great!!!

  27. Too bad it won’t be Wegman’s.
    One good thing about any grocery chain that buys Ukrops is that they’ll fire those lazy, arrogant bitches behind the deli counter at Carytown along with the girls at the customer service desk that roll their eyes and huff when you ask for a refund of the constant overcharging.

  28. Rivahcat on said:

    This is not news to me; a management level employee at a COMPETING CHAIN told me about this 6 months ago. Despite Bobby Ukrop’s denials, this has evidently been the word in the grocery industry for awhile. I always figured that Jimmy & Bobby’s kids would sell off the business after they were gone; I am a bit surprised it’s happening while Jim & Bob are still around.

    Stay tuned, folk….

  29. bcat on said:

    “I love Ukrops — if you don’t, don’t shop there.”

    Um, I don’t. That was the point. This is a thread about reactions to the possible sale of Ukrop’s. Mine was, meh.

  30. MidloMama on said:

    was talking with some friends, and realized in addition to the 3,000+ people at Ukrop’s, including support staff I mentioned earlier that would be eliminated because they’d be duplicative of other grocer’s staff, what about the local farmers supported by Ukrop’s, Supervalu in Mechanicsville and the many local vendors and the dairy and the bakers? The loss of Ukrop’s will cause great damage to the local economy. I really don’t like spending money to send to Arkansaw, North Carolina, Ohio or Belgium when I could keep it here.
    Gives me more than a “meh”.

  31. Liberty on said:

    there is a new wegmans in fredericksburg, ya shouldnt have driven all the way to northern va. In my opinion Ukrops was over-rated, i came home too many times with items that were past their due date, without the items i purchased, and to be frank bad customer service. Krogers has better prices, selection and quality. I’m not a ukrops hater just a consumer making choices that are best for me, let the free market work things out and give me the best choices. Im a cold hearted ruthless unemotional consumer.

  32. Anonymous on said:

    Richmond is not ready for Wegmans. The reason you have the support within the store is b/c they don’t provide carryout. Carryout is labor intensive with no return on the dollar. Is Richmond ready to give up carryout? Clean stores? Have you ever noticed the associates who periodically work on Sundays to clean the stores? Is it truly fair to ask the associates to give up their Sundays and holidays with family so you can have one more day of added convenience to shop? No time on the other six days? Walk in the associates shoes. Have you ever worked retail and when you were younger doesn’t count! Times have far since changed and the associate pool is not the same. We are in a computer generation who does not want to take time to sit and call someone and would rather e-mail or text. Stop and think about your fellow peers that you talk about, are you really any better? No, because you have time to sit an lay blame on a local family owned company who doesn’t sell alcohol and closes on Sundays. Wake up Richmond you will be sorry if Ukrops leaves the market. Community contribution will not go to Richmond it will go to the home office of the buyer!

  33. Richard D on said:

    A lot of good points here, but the one burning question is still…Why are they considering a sale? Because if it is to cash out, then they are a sell out. I too like Ukrops a lot. I never worry about the quality and selection like I do when I am forced in a pinch to go to Food Liar on a Sunday, because I need anchovie paste, bananas or whatever. The Sunday thing has never really bothered me, and neither has the beer. It’s true, employees need a break. Ukrops has so many firsts on its list, that it is surprising that they would just sell out and leave us to an outsider. It would leave a huge hole in the philanthropy pool. I am holding out for a good ending to this story, but I am not holding my breath. If we all want
    Wegmans over HT, Giant, or another, we should all start calling them. We are here, we are here, we are here…!!!

  34. susan cornell on said:

    YES!!!! I want Wegmans! (Never forgave Ukrops for the Howard Stern mess. They were underhanded bullies in that situation, and I don’t even listen to Howard.) Just don’t trust them and WEgmans is the best!!

  35. Is it possible that some employees might WANT the extra hours? OT, maybe? Staying open on Sundays means more jobs, more profit, more days that products can be sold before their shelf-life is up. Any employer can give workers a day off. They don’t have to impose their religious-based family day on the region to accomplish that.

  36. bcat on said:

    The impact on the local economy is the reason I’m saying “meh” instead of “good riddance.”

  37. “meh” isn’t in my vocabulary. I skipped straight to “good riddance.”

  38. Tank E on said:

    I feel for the folks like Ukrops. But not being open on Sunday, the general attitude of the shoppers and employees and just the rightous whole mess of this culter makes me really hate the place. They got rich, now it’s time for them to take there ball and go home.

  39. tiny on said:

    All I am saying is that I think they are feeling the impact of our current economy. If they wish to survive this ‘recession’ or ‘economic downturn’ or whatever you want to call it, they need to look at the high prices they charge for basic grocery items. Most budget-minded shoppers balk at paying more for the same items you can get anywhere else. And, it sounds like their speciality items, like health food and prepared food, no longer draw in the shoppers like it used to. They can choose not to sell alcohol and be closed on Sundays, but this too drives shoppers elsewhere.

    They need to look at how they can alter their business to survive. It they do not want to make any changes and business does not pick up, they might feel selling is their best option. Business have to reinvent themselves all the time to stay current and to make a prophit.

  40. tiny on said:


  41. ukraps on said:

    When I moved to Richmond, I was riding the bus to work every day. I went to Ukrops to buy a booklet of bus tickets. Nope. They only had’em at the run-down smelly grocery store in the black neighborhoods. My paychecks as a temp worker were tiny, so I often charged my groceries, until higher income came about, but… not at Ukrops! They wouldn’t take credit cards. I guess their customers would never find themselves strapped for cash (nevermind the fact that credit cards are a trap – that’s another matter). The message was pretty clear. Ukrops is a store for rich whites and wannabes. And then there’s the “morals.” I needed condoms, “just in case.” Did they sell’em? Nope. Abstinence only. F*ck Ukrops… I mean, since we can’t have safe sex with each other.

  42. Anonymous on said:

    ukrap – its people like you that make society suck at times. Ukrops takes credit and sell condoms. Maybe you shouldn’t be having sex since you lack brains.

  43. ukraps on said:

    anon: when did they start taking credit and selling condoms? There was a time when they didn’t do either. Some people think they’ve taken down the signs reminding people to go to their “house of worship.” Have they? So, they’ve backpedaled some. Obviously not enough.

  44. neighbor on said:

    Well, they already sold the bank, so maybe that was what this chatter was all about. I am a First Market customer and I got a notice in the mail last week that they are selling the bank off, and since they have a bank branch at or nearby every store, that could be what was going on. It’s strange, since I thought the bank was the most profitable part of the organization (heard that from a former Ukrop’s employee) but maybe they cashed it out to support the stores.

    Regardless, I’d be sad to see a local market go. I’ve done comparison shopping at food lion and ukrop’s, and food lion has ALWAYS been more expensive, every time. As much as I hate some of the stuff at ukrops (the church signs, no beer, closed on sundays) I also like that the store is so clean, the produce is so nice, and the employees are so great.

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