SuperTarget's prices set the pace in Lawrence for Thanksgiving turkeys.
Local consumers are getting a steal this year on frozen turkeys thanks to the newcomer to the grocery market in Lawrence, SuperTarget.
The grocery and discount store at 3201 S. Iowa St. advertised turkeys at 19 cents a pound, sending other Lawrence store owners scrambling to reluctantly meet the price.
Some grocery retailers say Lawrence has the lowest turkey prices in the state this year. But most local grocers aren't happy with the competitive pricing because of the loss in revenue.
"It's a traffic builder. We're making a statement to our customers that we intend to get the best prices," said Ken Seipel, SuperTarget's store team leader.
The market price for a turkey this year is between 49 cents a pound and $1 a pound.
Seipel wouldn't say how much the store will lose on turkeys but admitted the price was below cost.
"We take a pretty good hit on the turkeys. We pay substantially more than what we sell them for," he said.
After SuperTarget's advertised its turkey prices last week, the store quickly sold all 4,000 turkeys it had in stock. Before the end of the week, Seipel expects to have sold about 8,000 birds for Thanksgiving.
Seipel said his price is at least 20 cents below any other local store's advertised price, however most grocery store owners have matched SuperTarget's price to retain customers.
"These stores, like Hy-Vee and (Super)Target are what I call full-service upscale stores. They can be competitive on a few items, but overall their prices are higher," said Jim Lewis, owner of Checkers Foods, 2300 La. "Our prices are lower on everything everyday."
Even though Lewis said the price of most frozen turkeys should be about $1 a pound, he has agreed to meet or beat any locally advertised price.
"Customers are getting a real unfair picture of what the turkey market is right now," he said.
In fact, Ken Keefer, director of public relations for Dillon stores, said the regional turkey wholesale market has increased this year over last year's prices. The three Dillon stores in Lawrence are the only stores in the 29-store Dillon grocery chain that are selling turkeys for 19 cents a pound. Kansas City-area turkey prices are hovering around 49 cents a pound.
The low price is apparently pretty attractive to Thanksgiving customers. Lewis said he's already had to seek more turkeys to replenish his frozen storage area.
"Logic would tell you that more turkeys are selling this year at that ridiculously low price," Keefer said. "Especially since it is not even tied to a purchase requirement."
Jay Avey, market manager for Hy-Vee Food & Drug Store, 3504 Clinton Pkwy., has been working for the company for 17 years, but says has never seen turkey prices this low.
"You bet people will be stocking up on turkeys at this price," said Avey, who also lowered his turkey prices to match SuperTarget.
"And this is going to make things more competitive for Christmas," said Avey, adding that local retailers will probably wait to see SuperTarget's next holiday maneuver before advertising their own prices.