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Published: Friday, 5/14/2004

No frills, low prices to greet grocery customers

In return, promise executives, they'll find lower prices.

"We give shoppers terrific value by offering great quality and low prices on the regular weekly items they need," Earl Weissert, president of Food Basics USA said in a written statement.

But it isn't the first time customers of the stores at 2630 Laskey Rd., 2150 South Byrne Rd., and 1707 Cherry St. have heard that promise. In an effort to revive the stores, then part of the affiliated Farmer Jack chain, executives last year announced they were slashing prices.

But the cuts apparently weren't big enough to draw crowds and the three stores closed early this year, with the intent of being converted into the Food Basics. Three suburb Toledo Farmer Jack outlets remain in operation.

Farmer Jack and Food Basics are both owned by New Jersey-based Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. A&P this year similarly converted some struggling Farmer Jack stores in the Detroit area to Food Basics stores.

Prices on staples at Food Basics will be up to 30 percent below those at traditional groceries, company officials said.

Unlike some no-frills grocery stores, Food Basics will stock national brands, but the stores will have fewer sizes or varieties of most items than traditional supermarkets. Customers will have to make some sacrifices. Meat, deli items, and baked goods will be pre-packaged to reduce expenses, and shoppers must pack their own groceries in bags they bring or buy.

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