When Bill Mehlinger bought the Clarkston Thriftown in 1990, he would have described it as your typical American grocery store. The small, 10-aisle supermarket built in the 70s was well-stocked with things like Hamburger Helper, Jif Peanut Butter and Campbell’s soup.
Mehlinger had just come from a long career with the grocery chain Winn-Dixie. This was the kind of food he figured would sell.
But it didn’t.
“Sales started going down,” Mehlinger said, “and then they kept getting worse and worse.”
Within three years, the store’s sales had dropped by a third.