CHICAGO -- Byerly's doesn't anticipate any "field of dreams" miracles as it enters this marketplace early next year.
yerly's learned that lesson the hard way when it attempted to convert two Supervalu-banner stores in Atlanta to the Byerly's name and format in 1981, and ultimately had to close them.
"What we learned from that experience is that you can't just go into an existing store, take down the sign and slowly convert it to a Byerly's," said Dale Riley, chief operating officer.
"You've got to go in from the ground up. It's better to go in with a full punch right away, and that's what we're doing in Chicago. We expect to become very involved in the communities we plan to enter long before we open, so our neighbors will know who we are."
Byerly's will open stores in two Chicago suburbs next year -- Highland Park in March and Schaumburg in late July.
The Edina, Minn.-based retailer has been laying the groundwork in Highland Park for several months and plans a similar approach in Schaumburg beginning this month.
Byerly's posted Jeff Maurer, the store's general manager, to Highland Park last January, more than a year before the store was scheduled to open, to begin establishing relationships with community leaders and other potential customers, Morrison said.
"As a result, by the time we open the store, we will have spent a fair amount of money on public relations and advertising talking about who we are.
"Historically, we haven't done that kind of preopening work, because when [founder] Don Byerly opened his first store 28 years ago, it was so unique that it made its own statement and people in Minnesota were aware of Byerly's as each new store opened.
"But in a new market like Chicago, we need to be more visible and aggressive in telling our story and to become part of the neighborhood in advance of the store's opening."
Byerly's, which does not run newspaper ads on a regular basis, expects to launch a full-scale advertising campaign in Chicago shortly after Jan. 1 -- including print, radio, some TV and outdoor -- "in which we'll try to educate consumers about what makes Byerly's unique," Riley explained.
"We will discuss our quality, service and variety and let them know that store employees will be responsive to their requests because this company was founded on the principle of listening to customers, finding out what they want and getting it for them."