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TOUR: Crop's Fresh Marketplace - Downingtown, PA

Crop's Fresh Marketplace
Owner: John Cropper
Opened: 2018
Cooperative: IGA (Family Owned Markets)
 1257 Horseshoe Pk, Downingtown, PA
Photographed: August 20, 2019
We're about four miles away from what might be considered downtown Downingtown, in an area sometimes referred to as East Brandywine and sometimes as Guthriesville. This approximately 43,000 square foot store has a very interesting history. The Cropper family first opened an IGA supermarket in town in 1953, before moving to the current location in 1995. The store was sold in 2002 to Stauffer's Market, a local ShurFine/AWI operator. AWI became the lease holder here, with Stauffer's as the subtenant. Well, time goes by, things change, and AWI goes bankrupt and is acquired by C&S. C&S decides to end the lease in 2015, and Stauffer's works out a lease directly with the landlord. Shortly thereafter, Stauffer's goes out of business. The space sits empty as a GIANT Food Store is announced for the property neighboring this one (or moving in here, depending on who you ask). By 2018, the Cropper family decides to return to this location but interestingly enough can't even use their own name on the store because that brand name was sold to Stauffer's, then subsequently AWI and C&S. So Crop's Fresh Marketplace is what they came up with. Read more on the history here and here.
The opening of Crop's came with a very attractive renovation of the store's interior. We enter to a beautiful grand aisle on the right side of the store, with produce in the front-right corner, then bakery and prepared foods on the right side wall. Deli and meat/seafood are on the back wall, with dairy on the left side wall and frozen in an alcove in the front left corner. Customer service and a cafe are between the registers and the produce department on the front wall.
As a side note (that maybe is only relevant to me), this store I believe opened as an affiliate of Philadelphia-based Retail Marketing Group, an IGA subgroup. At some point more recently, they switched to Family Owned Markets, one of the remaining arms of AWI that was C&S-affiliated for a while and is now itself an IGA subgroup.
Here we see customer service and the cafe on the front wall.
I really like the new decor here -- it's pleasantly understated, but not lazy-looking. Good lighting, too.
Here we see the grand aisle extending out of the produce department. If there's one thing I would redo here, it's the floor. I would bet that Crop's did not redo the floor before reopening.
Here we move on to the prepared foods and deli departments in the back of the grand aisle.
I'm not entirely sure who was responsible for this decor, but it doesn't seem like the IGA standard decor available to all operators (though then again, IGA does make custom decor for its members). We'll see evidence that it may have been our old friend DY Design shortly.
Here's a look across the back wall at the seafood and meat departments. As we see, the store is not that big at 43,000 square feet, but it's plenty large for a full selection and a spacious feeling.
The grocery aisles do feel a little bit like a smaller, older store than the perimeter does, but they're still very nicely set-up and stocked. As we see, the entire store is completely pristine.
This store would be threatened by the arrival of GIANT next door, but here we are nearly five years after that was announced and, as far as I can tell, there's been no substantive movement on the project.
One piece of evidence I have for DY Design being this store's designer is the overall appearance, which is quite similar to other stores they've done lately such as the CTown in Scranton.
But another, more specific, piece of evidence is these aisle markers hung at the back of the aisles. The overall design but especially the font and the metallic look of the numbers is straight out of the decor package we see at CitiGrocer and other stores in assorted variations. Admittedly, CitiGrocer uses different aisle markers, but they're roughly of the same design.
There's a nice integration of the chainwide IGA branding here with the local Crop's branding.
Aisle 12 leads us to frozen foods and bread in the front corner.
The second-to-last aisle is also frozen foods, with dairy in the last.
There are 14 aisles in total here.
Up in the front, we have this wonderful IGA sign relic -- not 100% sure whether it is in fact a historical artifact or a reproduction, but either way, I love it!
And we have some historical pictures of the various past Crop's stores over the registers on the front-end.
Before we head out, we'll check out the cafe, which as we see opens right into the grand aisle and has its own register.
Beautiful store! I hope they do well, and continue even if GIANT comes in. Up next we're headed to the northwest for an interesting independent discount store on Monday right here on The Independent Edition!


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