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Size, Service Both Make a Difference At Local Supermarkets

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CHAPEL HILL — Another day, and another super-size supermarket opens. This time it is aHarris Teeterin Chapel Hill.

"We have an in-store sushi bar; we have a pharmacy; we have an in-store bank, CCB7, that's open seven days a week, and we have a huge, variety-filled seafood department," said Harris Teeter Assistant Manager Kerry Pendell.

The chains build the mammoth supermarkets because in today's fast-paced world, customers like the convenience.

"A lot of times you just want to go to one place that has everything that you need, and you don't want to have to go from store to store," said Chapel Hill resident Wilfred Juan.

Many chains are buying into this concept. And sometimes you can see a brand new, big box version of a supermarket being built right next to its smaller predecessor.

But is bigger always better? A leading retail analyst in North Carolina says when it comes to supermarkets, there's growth in both directions.

In Charlotte, Harris Teeter is experimenting by opening up small grocery stores about a fifth of the size of its big box locations.

"They concentrate on service, knowing you as a customer. You may not be able to get 25 different varieties of bread, but you know the person who is talking with you, who is serving you," explained Eric Karnes of the Karnes Research Company.

The supermarkets are learning that while size may be wise in their business, the personal touch still counts for something too.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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