Shoppers Value Foods has brought the concept of cost plus shopping to Saline County with its store in Salem at 1212 Salem Rd.
"We hang our hat on really low prices," said owner Chad Evans.
He explained as a cost plus store they take the cost it takes to put the food on the shelf and get it out the door and add 10 percent, though he added there are a few things actually sold below cost to stay competitive.
Evans owns a total of six Shoppers Value stores around Arkansas.
"Being independent operators we are able to customize each store to the community," he said.
His example is in Little Rock, they do not sell deer corn. In Salem, he said, the store sells truckloads of it.
Store Manager Roger Foster said his store may be small, but that does not stop him from offering the same items many of the bigger stores carry. For him, taking care of the customer is the most important part of his job. He can meet the customers one-on-one and take requests. He said if a customer wants something, he makes sure the store gets it.
He is especially proud of the store's meat department, which employs several butchers to cut meat every single day and grind meat fresh. Foster said where if a customer asks for a specific cut of meat at many stores, the store would have to order it, if they ask at Shoppers Value a butcher can cut it right away.
Between all the trained butchers on staff, Shoppers Value boasts an estimated 200 years worth of experience. Even Foster was previously a meat manager.
Evans said meat departments have become a lost art.
"We really are good in meat," he said.
Both men are proud of the variety of items they offer, including tomahawk steaks, shish kabobs, flavored and regular patties and barbecue.
Evans said the Pick 5 deal is cheaper than everyone else's at $17.99, plus 10 percent.
Since opening as Shoppers Value the store has become known for its breakfast and lunch in the deli, which Evans called "restaurant quality." He added everything is homemade.
Foster said the store used to open at 7 a.m., but because of all the customers standing outside waiting to get breakfast at 6:30 a.m. he moved opening to 6:30 a.m.
"These tables are covered up every morning," he said, adding the same people are back for lunch.
"Barbara (Wilson) does a really great job with that deli."
She starts cooking at 5 a.m. every morning.
Along with the breakfast and lunch items, the deli slices its lunch meat fresh and offers a store-made cheese ball Evans calls "unbelievable."
In the bakery, which Wilson is also in charge of, they offer a variety of cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more. Foster said around the holidays she puts out tables with all the extra bakery items.
In the produce department, Evans and Foster work to include as much locally grown produce as they can while it is in season. Evans said he has sold a lot of Warren tomatoes. He not only likes products that were grown in Arkansas, but he especially likes to be able to put the town the items come from on the signs.
The store even likes to stock local items through the dry goods section of the store, including honey out of West Little Rock and salsa from Lonoke.
The store offers Moneygram services and even has a branch of First Security Bank inside.
Evans estimates Shoppers Value has 20,000-square-feet of space from the front to the stock rooms.
Foster said as the manager, the customers are everything, from helping them in the store to carrying their items to their car.
"The personal touch is what we are after," he said, adding if the staff takes care of the customers, they will come back.
The store employs 40 to 50 on staff. Evans said while many stores and companies rely on part-time workers, at Shoppers Value they prefer and encourage employees to work full-time.
Evans and Foster are working to get the word out that Shoppers Value is open and ready to serve customers with fresh products and friendly service.
Foster feels it is a fantastic facility in a great community.
They want customers to give them a try because they know if people try them they will come back and tell their friends.
Shoppers Value is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.