When Haggen announced it was closing its doors, many Coronado residents speculated what could fill the empty store space at the 150 B Avenue location. Residents took to social media urging neighbors to sign an online petition to bring Trader Joe’s to Coronado. Others debated that Trader Joe’s would compete with their beloved Boney’s Bayside Market, and said that grocery store chains such as Gelson’s Markets or Bristol Farms would be suitable options to replace Haggen. Several people expressed their concerns that Vons, the only remaining large chain grocery store, would be unable to meet the needs of the entire Crown City. Some local people suggested that a store like Target would be a welcome and much-needed addition to the island.
On November 30th when residents caught wind that Smart & Final was acquiring the Haggen location in Coronado, there was a collective sigh of dismay throughout Coronado as people immediately pictured a bulk grocery store becoming part of the community. People took to social media again, posting negative comments about Smart & Final while a few defended the chain.
What was wrong with Smart & Final? Why did some residents think it wasn’t a good fit for Coronado? Smart & Final’s legacy stores are bulk stores, which are primarily designed to meet the needs of businesses. The legacy stores, such as the Smart & Final located at 2804 Midway Drive in San Diego, is a store where customers can purchase apples, but only if they want to purchase an entire bag of apples. It’s a warehouse style store where people can purchase containers of Kool-Aid large enough to make 136 cups, stock pots that hold 40 quarts, or a box containing three 121 fluid ounce bottles of Clorox commercial bleach. People imagined a store that had its meat and produce in the same single refrigerated aisle as the type of store that was coming to Coronado, and pictured a store that only offered “Fiesta Size” bags of tortilla chips.
Smart & Final is NOT coming to Coronado! Smart & Final Extra! instead will be replacing Haggen. What is the difference between the legacy warehouse store and the Extra! store? According to Marisol Marks, Director of Communications for Smart & Final, there is a world of difference. Coronado residents will be pleased to know that Smart & Final Extra! is not a warehouse store, but will instead be a grocery store designed to meet the needs of Coronado’s community. Even with the new format, consumers can still expect prices that will be 16% lower than conventional prices at competing chains.
Ms. Marks says that Smart & Final Extra! will offer the “best of both worlds” to Coronado, providing “quality, value, and convenience” to households and businesses. The new store, which will open no later than June of 2016, will have a “farmers market feel” to it. Customers will not only be able to purchase individual pieces of fruit, but they will be able to enjoy a full organic section of produce. She adds, “The Smart & Final Extra! store includes: expanded frozen, deli and meat selections; warehouse club sizes as well as smaller, more convenient sizes; specialty products such as oven-roasted chicken and dry-bulk goods by the pound; fresh seafood; fresh produce; and an expanded natural and organic product line.”
Coronado shoppers, those shopping for their individual households as well as those who are shopping for their local businesses, will discover that Smart & Final Extra! is a one-stop store geared toward meeting all of their customers’ needs, both big and small. They will be able to shop for national brand products as well as local products. Ms. Marks is adamant that Smart & Final Extra! is dedicated to considering the specific needs of Coronado shoppers, and will be open to exploring options for fresh lunch items like their Extra! store in Los Angeles, which has a selection of fresh sandwiches. They are willing to take suggestions from shoppers in Coronado for items such as sushi, salad bars, and a bakery, and will have a full meat section with fresh meat selections.
Will Coronado shoppers be willing to give this new Smart & Final Extra! a chance? Cathy Hacker is willing to do so. She says, “I’m looking forward to Smart & Final coming to town. The ones I’ve been to are great. What I like about Smart & Final is that you can buy bulk and non-bulk items. It will be nice to have that option. They have great prices too. I just hope people will give them a chance.”
Other residents such as Judith Mansfield, who was once in the catering business and loves to cook, is still “extremely disappointed” that Smart & Final Extra!, which she likens to a Walmart, is coming to Coronado. She said she will “maybe check it out” once it opens, but worries that it’s going to create more bridge traffic and “ bring new clientele” to Coronado. Ms. Mansfield thinks that “it’s appalling that our beautiful city” will not be “represented well” by this new store, and is frustrated that Coronado residents “did not have any say” in which store replaced Haggen. She wishes there was a high-end store that offered a selection of gourmet goods and cheeses, and that it was the kind of store that included a bakery where residents could buy cakes.
Hiring has already begun, and Ms. Marks states that the chain will consider all qualified candidates, including anyone who worked at the now-closed Haggen. Anyone who is interested in employment should check Craigslist for advertisements about Smart & Final Extra! job fairs.
Smart & Final Extra! is a “value-oriented retailer,” says Ms. Marks, who adds, “We’re excited about the opportunity to present the new Smart & Final Extra! one-stop shopping experience to the community of Coronado.” Even though the grand opening date is still undetermined, Ms. Marks states that everyone at Smart & Final Extra! is planning on “putting our best foot forward” as they “partner with the local community.” There will be a business preview event that local businesses will all be invited to, and there will be a grand opening celebration for all of Coronado.