Discount grocery store set to open in downtown Waterloo - Republic-Times | News

Discount grocery store set to open in downtown Waterloo

By on October 31, 2012 at 10:16 am

Pictured, from left, are Billiger Foods ownership partners Ron and Pat Caywood and Robin Seidle. (Kermit Constantine photo)

A building that served as a popular family-owned grocery store in downtown Waterloo for decades is about to come full circle.

Located at 110 South Church Street in Waterloo, Billiger Foods will offer a niche service to the community that the store’s owners believe is needed in today’s economy.

“It’s just a discounted food grocery store,” co-owner Robin Seidle explained. “It’s all good product at a cheaper price. It’s a really viable option for people concerned with today’s high grocery prices.”

Seidle hopes the history of the building — it used to be Schmitt’s AG Supershop and subsequent incarnations from its opening in November 1956 until its closing as Schmitt’s IGA in 2000 — will at least generate initial interest from the community to see what the new store has to offer.

Peter Schmitt and his son, Don, expanded their successful grocery business to this location in the mid-1950’s, moving from the original store location at the corner of Mill and Church streets.

The furniture store Clark’s Country Oaks had occupied the building from 2004 to this year, when owner Tom Clark decided to sell the building and move his business to South Main Street near First National Bank of Waterloo.

Billiger Foods ownership partner Ron Caywood said the idea for this new store was first presented to him and his wife by Seidle more than two years ago.

“She first approached Pat and I as potential investors, but we weren’t ready,” Caywood said. “Then she came back and asked again for us to get involved as partners. So we sat down and hashed out a concept.”

Don Schmitt and his father, Peter, outside their new Schmitt AG Superstore at 110 S. Church Street in 1956.

The word “billiger” is German for “cheaper,” Caywood said. His son-in-law, Ron Kapise, suggested the name for this new store and the partners “liked it instantly.”

Billiger Foods is what is known as a salvage food store, where the bulk of inventory is sourced from grocery reclamation centers around the country.

Caywood explained that reclamation centers collect shipments of box-damaged, expiring or distressed food (and non-food) items from the large grocery chains. The job of the reclamation center is to recover as much capital as possible from distressed inventory. Grocery items with major damage, including large dents, opened inner packaging, leaks and lack of product labels, are thrown away. But grocery items with minor denting or slightly damaged packaging, odd lots and near dating are placed onto pallets and resold at liquidation pricing to salvage food retailers such as Billiger Foods.

“It’s groceries that weren’t very gently handled, but they are still fine,” Caywood said.

Seidle explained that these discounted items are purchased by her store, including name brands and regional brands, and offered to customers at cheaper prices.

In addition, Seidle said, her store will offer frozen meats, and fresh produce and dairy products.

Billiger Foods will open for business this Saturday at 9 a.m. Store hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.