How a Tiny Grocer Outflanks Kroger on Facebook

george bowers buccaneer beer eventGeorge Bowers Grocery Makes a  Fun 1 to 1 Connection That’s Impossible for the Big Chain to Match

The right niche and the right approach enable a two-person company to outshine a retailing giant on Facebook. That’s true of George Bowers Grocery in Staunton Virginia where owners Katie McCaskey and Brian Weidman have created a delightful grocery store that focuses on high-quality foods and other specialty products.

The couple knew they could not compete head-to-head with the local Kroger supermarket in their community. Instead they have captured the spirit of the original 19th-century owner as a provider of "staple goods & fancy groceries."

They offer wonderful local meats, cheeses, wines, and craft beers as well as a variety of specialty items. They target the diverse mix of neighborhood residents, local food enthusiasts, and culinary tourists each with their own distinctive interests and needs. The atmosphere of the store itself is an eclectic blend of the old-fashioned and the modern.

And, they have a lot of fun with their marketing, in person and online.

Meeting The Marketing Challenge: Content Marketing, Social Media, and Live Events

Newspaper, TV, radio, and Yellow Pages advertising were out of the question given their tiny marketing budget. Instead, online content marketing and the judicious use of social media became the obvious marketing solution.  In particular, their use of live events and of Facebook demonstrates how small can be beautiful when it comes to 21st-century marketing.

Live events are the one traditional marketing tactic they employ successfully. They feature plenty of free goodies for foodies to entice them into the store week after week.  Each event is tightly integrated with their online content marketing efforts.

Facebook is particularly effective because it gives Katie and Brian the chance to interact with their local customers and to alert them of the latest fun, free events.

george bowers facebook page

The grocery has hundreds of fans drawn primarily from their small town of just 25,000 residents. There is a consistent level of interaction between the company and its customers. In fact, they estimate that 75% of their customers connect with them on Facebook or read their blog.

Best of all, on Facebook they can battle local giant Kroger toe-to-toe. That would’ve been impossible in the local newspaper, radio or TV station. They can’t out spend Kroger with traditional advertising, but they certainly can outmaneuver them on Facebook.

Although Kroger has thousands of Facebook fans across the United States, they average only 10 fans per store–while George Bowers has 429 at their single location. And, Katie manages to stay just as current on the George Bowers Facebook page as their billion-dollar competitor. At the same time, this micro marketer’s Facebook page has a much stronger visual appeal on a daily basis than does Kroger.

George Bowers Grocery has achieved outsized results by leveraging content marketing and social media components that are either free or very inexpensive. Facebook is a cornerstone of that strategy. .

Great food and great Facebook have proven to be a winning combination.

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  1. Posted January 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Great example.

    It’s fun to watch nimble small businesses beat the big guys, particularly in social media.

  2. Newt Barrett
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    It is fascinating that in a well-defined local niche, the big guys may have no advantage at all. Of course, I always root for the underdog.

  3. Posted January 18, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Small can indeed “be beautiful”! Thank you, Newt, for featuring our grocery and related social media/content marketing efforts. It is really empowering for business owners of any size to know that they are reaching their audience and building genuine connections. (But particularly cool at the “micro” level!) For those who would like more in-depth tactics, please see: Or… visit us in person in Staunton, VA, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Best wishes, Katie