• Andrea Lillo

New regional chain to serve upstate NY

Only a 20-minute drive from the Canadian border, this small town of 6,000 people is the first location for a new regional discount chain called WiseBuys serving central and northern New York.

Under the direction of Joe LaChausse, a retail veteran with 14 years' experience in the supermarket business and 10 years with BJ's Wholesale Club, WiseBuys looks to fill a niche in communities previously served by Ames, even using a few of the defunct chain's locations. What's more, former Ames executive Joe Ettore is chairman of the new chain.

However, the new chain differentiates itself with a bigger assortment of domestics, said LaChausse, president and ceo, a department where it is working with one vendor. WiseBuys is also more expansive on food and has a partnership with Payless Shoes, which has an in-store boutique. "The pricing and brands are similar to T.J. Maxx, for example," he said, "but with more consistency of a full-line department store."

WiseBuys stores will average 40,000 square feet, with 75 percent of that selling space. And domestics will range between 3,000 to 4,000 square feet.

WiseBuys' second location, 30 minutes away in Gouverneur, NY, is scheduled to open within a few weeks. The company is also looking at locations in Saranac Lake, Polaski, and Lowville. Besides former Ames units, WiseBuys is exploring vacant supermarkets and big box real estate.

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