Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More on Safeway Stores, Inc.'s 'The Market' small-format and it's First Store, 'the market by Vons,' Which Opened Last Week in Long Beach, California

The "Signature Cafe (above)," which is a regular feature in Safeway's "The Market" format stores, in the new "market by Vons" in Long Beach, California provides a real "fresh foods" signature and feel to the small-format grocery store. It also creates a nice sense of place in the store based on its design elements and color tones.

On Thursday, May 15, we reported in this piece on the Wednesday, May 14 grand opening of Safeway's new "The Market" format "The market By Vons," a small-format, hip new grocery store in Long Beach California.

As we mentioned, numerous shoppers at the grand opening told Fresh & Easy Buzz the store reminded them of a "mini Whole Foods Market." One shopper said the store reminded him of Trader Joe's with a makeover. Another said it reminded her somewhat of a small grocery store version of Starbucks.

These actually are all wonderful analogies and examples. Never underestimate the perceptual abilities of consumers.

The store actually is a logical variation of Safeway's Lifestyle format, adapted to small-format food retailing. The store at about 15,000 square feet, offers a limited assortment of basic food and grocery items and perishables, a strong selection of bulk fresh produce displayed farmers' market style, lots of prepared foods under Safeway's "Signature Cafe" and new "World Cuisine" brands, and "assorted other basics and goodies", in the words of a female shopper we talked to on the way out of the store on grand opening day.

Nancy Luna, business reporter for the Orange County Register and the 'Fast Food Maven' blogger for same said newspaper, visited the new "the market by Vons" the other day and has a good post about it in her blog today, along with some wonderful photographs of the store interior taken by Orange County Register photographer Jeb Harris. There's a link on the post where you can click to watch a slide show of Harris' store photographs as well.

Read today's blog post about "The Market by Vons in Long Beach by the Fast Food Maven here.

As we first reported last year, and again in the May 15 piece on "the market by Vons'" Long Beach store grand opening, Safeway is set to open up to four of "The Market" format stores in the San Francisco Bay area this summer. This is ahead of Tesco opening the first of its 18 planned Bay Area Fresh & Easy small-format, convenience-oriented grocery stores in the region starting early next year.

Safeway is based in the Bay Area, and has been for the chain's entire existence. It's also the number one food and grocery market share grocer in California.

Much of the research for "The Market" format was done in the Bay Area. Knowing the San Francisco Bay Area food and grocery retailing market rather well, we think the small-format, somewhat upscale 'The Market" format stores have a huge potential to be a big success in the Bay Area. The stores will be called "the market by Safeway" in the Bay Area.

Their arrival months before the first Fresh & Easy store opens in the region could be trouble for Tesco. We will be providing some analysis on that match up soon in Fresh & Easy Buzz.

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