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Nice N Easy Sets Sights on Green Future

CANASTOTA, N.Y. -- Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes' latest convenience store, which opened in Clay, N.Y., in September 2009, is one lean, green retail machine -- it's the chain's most environmentally friendly store to date, with a new design.

The 5,000-square-foot store features many firsts for the chain -- one of which is its exposed ceiling that is painted an earthy orange. Another is the dual rows of fuel dispensers. And one other first is the size of its foodservice section, which takes up an impressive 25-plus percent of the store, the most of any store to date.

There, customers can get a wide variety of fountain and frozen drinks, coffee and specialty brews. The chain's made-to-order offering of subs, wraps, salads and sandwiches is available, as well as its pizza and bakery selections.

An open floorplan provides clear views to the walk-in beer cave, the LED-lit colors and 20-foot open case of beverages. There is also a dining area for customers and displays of fresh fruit and produce by the point-of-sale. The chain's in-store TV network plays local news and entertainment.

But what is most impressive is the store's state-of-the-art green technology. The store's lighting -- both inside and out -- is LED-based. In the non-retail areas, such as behind the coolers and in storage areas, lights are set to motion detectors.

"Some of the lighting is keyed to motion detectors. If you walk into the walk-in cooler, the only light to come on is the one directly over you. As you go deeper in, others will come on, and when you walk away they go out," explained Senior Executive Vice President Fran Duskiewicz. The store also utilizes something he calls "daylight harvesting," where a sensor will detect the amount of light coming in through a window, and will shut off nearby lighting if it is bright enough, and turn the light on as it gets darker.

Another energy-efficient move the company made at this and other new locations was to take all the compressors outside of the store and put them on the white roof. A unit in the back room monitors every cooler and freezer, and tells the compressors on the roof the exact energy demand it needs to regulate store equipment.

"Usually, when compressors come on, they are noisy, create heat and it may deliver much more power to the unit than it truly needs," explained Duskiewicz.

The chain is also contemplating the installation of windmills at windier store locations, and taping the energy source into the power grid, he noted.

The purpose of all this green technology is twofold -- being socially responsible and cost savings.

"John [MacDougall, president and CEO of Nice N Easy] believes in this. He's been talking about doing these things for a long time, because it's socially responsible and can save you a lot of money," explained Duskiewicz. "We were talking with people recently, and they asked why we didn’t do more press releases about this, but the truth was we didn’t really think of it. It's something we're doing because we believe it is the right thing to do."

It is difficult for the chain to determine the realized cost savings of the green technologies at its stores, because they have only been added to new-build locations, which would have to be compared with a similar existing store without the systems, said Duskiewicz.

"We can look at [new green stores and existing stores] side by side and compare them, and we've proven that it saves us money," he said. "Of course, there are extra construction costs, so you have to work through the return-on-investment first, but if you are doing this because it’s the right or the smart thing to do, then that is why you do it."
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