If you’ve ever gone grocery shopping with a tired two-year-old, then you’ll probably understand why a family-owned newcomer to the grocery industry in Alabama just may already be a leg up on the competition. Belle Foods, which last year bought all former Bruno’s affiliated stores across the Southeast, has added a new service in three of its locations — free child care for kids aged 3 to 10 while their parents shop in the Belle stores.
The newest grocery store chain in Alabama, with 33 stores now open, is owned by father-son team Bill and Jeff White, who formed the new company last year, rebranding and remarketing all 57 former Bruno’s affiliated stores.
The “Belle Jr.’s” — as the child care component of the business is called — are manned by Red Cross-certified and background-checked Belle employees. Under their supervision, children can play with toys and games, even computer games that line one wall of the glass-enclosed child care center in the Alabaster store. Closed-circuit televisions throughout the store allow parents to monitor children and pagers allow child-care staff to find parents if needed.
According to Belle CEO Bill White, a 30-year-veteran in the grocery business, “There are only so many food dollars to go around, and we know that we have to constantly seek new and better ways to serve our customers. We know this certainly makes it easier for a mom to shop and take her time to do it.”
A self-proclaimed fan of the Bruno brand of grocery store management, White adds, “We hope to bring some of their family friendly care for the customer to our business.”
Text by Linda Long