Giant Eagle ends optical, shop-scan services

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Giant Eagle is discontinuing two programs that represented long-term experiments for the O'Hara grocer.

The grocer confirmed yesterday that it was closing four Giant Eagle Optical locations in Robinson, Monroeville, Ross and McMurray. The first site opened in 2004.

In addition, Giant Eagle is ending a program that allowed customers in six stores to scan their own groceries as they shopped. That test was launched in 2005.

Many customers have not heard of either experiment since the tests were limited, a practice that Giant Eagle regularly uses. At the moment, the grocer is trying out a discount store format in two locations in northeastern Ohio and fine-tuning a small store format in Harmarville.

In a statement issued yesterday, company officials noted some programs don't prove viable across a broad number of stores.

The Giant Eagle Optical locations were launched in 2004 as a venture involving the founder of the region's Eyetique group. The theory had been that it might give shoppers yet another reason to come to the stores, in addition to services such as dry cleaning, video rental and ticket sales.

The four sites are scheduled to wind down over the next couple of weeks. The company has worked out arrangements with area doctors of optometry, including some current Giant Eagle Optical optometrists, who will acquire the practices and the records. All warranties and discount plans will be honored, officials said.

Meanwhile, a high-tech program first tested at the Giant Eagle in North Huntingdon four years ago will not be extended across the chain.

The Personal Shopper self-scanning service had received mixed consumer feedback, said Rob Borella, senior director of marketing and corporate communications for Giant Eagle. In addition, the technology had compatibility issues with new checkout systems.

Under the service, shoppers could use their Advantage cards to check out the devices and then scan and bag groceries as they shopped. A number of grocers around the country have been testing similar systems.

In addition to the North Huntingdon store, Giant Eagle tried the scanners in its Market District stores in Shadyside and Bethel Park as well as locations in Brunswick and New Albany, Ohio; and Frederick, Md.

Teresa F. Lindeman can be reached at or at 412-263-2018.

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