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Manteca bags Grocery Outlet

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POSTED February 6, 2009 5:27 a.m.
Grocery Outlet  — a Berkeley-based firm that supplies 133 independently operating stores — is expanding into Manteca.

The grocery store plans to open in the shuttered Big Boy Market location on East Yosemite Avenue at Northwoods Avenue just west of Highway 99.

The value-orientated grocer carries overstocks of major brands plus private labels that one would find in many traditional supermarkets. The meat selection is generally limited and consists of packaged produce. Produce is not sold by the pound but instead by the bag or some form of self-contained packaging. The stores carry wine and beer as well as perishable products such as milk, eggs, and bread that shoppers expect to pick up at a grocery store.

Councilman John Harris viewed the news as a good sign as Manteca needs to grow “shopping options for all segments of the market.” He was also pleased that the Big Boy Market, which closed last year, will reopen to pump new life into one of Manteca’s oldest shopping centers.

Manteca’s grocery shopping options have undergone major changes in the past six months. In addition to the closure of Big Boy Market, Costco opened in August creating more competition for the consumer food dollar. Safeway took a different tack going upscale by converting its Pak-n-Save on South Main Street into what is now Manteca’s largest full service supermarket complete with Starbucks, an expanded deli and bakery and a larger produce section. They also added a pharmacy.

Groceries for Less opened just recently on North Main Street as a value-orientated grocery retailer in the same shopping center as 24 Hour Fitness and Rite Aid at North Main and Louise Avenue. The store has reported doing a brisk business.

Save Mart, a Modesto-based regional chain with 252 stores that can trace part of its roots back to Manteca, operates two locations in Manteca. They are the only traditional full-service supermarket besides Raley’s and Safeway.

Food 4 Less occupies a niche between a traditional grocery and a value orientated grocery as it limits its items and available sizes somewhat to reduce prices but has a bakery and meat operation plus traditional produce. It is also Manteca’s only 24-hour supermarket.

Raley’s has reportedly been looking at locating in a new center being planned on Daniels Street at Airport Way directly north of where Lowe’s Home improvement and Manteca’s second Walgreen’s store is  planned. That was before the economic slowdown.

Manteca also has three ethnic Hispanic markets – Super Altena Market Altena Market, and Manteca Meat Market plus a number of smaller ethnic markets with limited selections serving other niches. There is also one neighborhood market, M&S, serving the Southside neighborhood just south of downtown.

Various surveys have indicated before Costco opened that Manteca was short 1.5 traditional super markets based on its existing population. Since then, shopping patterns have changed due to the economy making discount shopping chic while at the same time consumers have pushed for more variety and selection.

Developers are advancing at least one shopping center complex – Yosemite Square – that envisions a full-service supermarket east of Highway 99 at Austin Road and East Yosemite Avenue at some point in the future.

Grocery Outlet is also preparing to open its second Hayward location as well as a store in San Leandro. They just recently opened new stores in Portland, Novato, and Folsom. The chain operates in six western states.

Information provided by Grocery Outlet indicated their typical customer is a 38-year-old female shopping for a family of three to four with a household income ranging from $35,000 to $50,000.

The chain’s website offers information on how you can feed a family of four on $3 per person per day.  It includes meal plans that feature dishes that offer complete nutrition and variety.

Jim Read founded the first store that was known as the Cannery Sales in San Francisco in 1946. The firm opened its 100th store in 1995. They gained attention in 2001 when they acquired the liquidated inventories of Webvan and Wine.Com.

Grocery Outlet opened 11 new stores in 2005. Annual sales exceed $700 million.

The store is seeking the same off-sale wine and beer license that Big Boy Market held for years.

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