On Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 6:50 am Tristan Leon, a ten year old Coronado resident, and his mother Mary Leon stood outside of the new Smart & Final Extra! at 150 B Avenue here in Coronado. Tristan anxiously awaited the store opening its doors at 7:00 am so he could be the first official customer on the store’s Grand Opening Day. He wasn’t the only one anxious to get a look at the new grocery store however, as lots of fellow Coronado residents joined him in waiting for the doors to open.
Tristan, whose brother plays baseball at Bradley Field right across the street from the new grocery store, was excited that the store is officially open for business in time for baseball season. Tristan likes the idea of being able to purchase snacks during his brother’s games.
At 7:00 am Tristan was welcomed by Smart & Final Extra! Coronado’s store manager Carla Meza. He immediately made his way over to the check-out lanes, where he purchased a pack of gum, giving him the distinction of not only being the first customer in the door but also being the first customer to buy something. After watching Tristan celebrate his little victory, it was clear that Smart & Final Extra! was open for business!
How did Tristan and his mother like the new store? After making his gum purchase, they took some time to walk around and take a look at the store that replaced Haggen. Tristan said he liked the decorations, and declared, “I’m impressed!” Mary, who admitted she was “a little worried” said that Smart & Final Extra! “looks fantastic!”
Barb Anderson, a grandmother who has lived in Coronado since 1968, watches her granddaughter Joy while her daughter, Jean Volk, teaches fourth grade at Sacred Heart every day. This morning rather than wait for Jean to drop off Joy to her at her house, Barb instead asked Jean to drop Joy off to her at the new Smart & Final Extra! because Barb too was just as eager as Tristan to check it out.
Barb had nothing but compliments to offer for Smart & Final Extra!, and said of the store’s employees, “Everybody’s smiling and they’re so happy.” Barb noted that the store looks “beautiful, neat, and clean.”
I met Lou Mone in the produce section, and he said that he appreciated how the produce was “artfully displayed.” He and his wife Elinor woke up at 5:15 am just to come to the store opening! As soon as customers walk into the store, the vibrant produce section is there, giving the store a healthy feel to it. When the store was a Haggen grocery store, the produce was all the way in the back, and it wasn’t visible when customers first entered. Just a change in the way the produce is displayed makes a huge difference in the overall feel of the store.
The Riebe family (Pete, Liz, Wyatt, Quinn, and George) made a family outing together to check out the new Smart & Final Extra! before the kids headed off to school.The Riebe family came to the store together bright and early before the kids headed off to school. Liz Riebe calls the store opening “a game changer” and said it’s “been rough” during the time period when there was no grocery store open at this location. She said Smart & Final Extra! “looks great” and is excited that her son will be able to now pick up some groceries for her along with his friends because the store is so close to their home.
Scottsdale, Arizona resident Cindy Keesling, who spends her summers in Coronado, was in town, and she too was one of the first customers. She purposely came by the store this morning just to see it, and said the new store is “wonderful” and that it “absolutely” lives up to her expectations.
Customers will be pleased with the new store, and it is evident that Smart & Final Extra! is truly trying to meet the needs of Coronado residents and tourists. Because Coronado is a beach town, there are beach related products available for purchase, and the check-out aisles are named after streets right here in Coronado. With such an active community of people on the go, whether it’s to the beach, out on their boats, or to the baseball or soccer fields, people will appreciate the Grab & Go section of the store, where they can purchase prepared sandwiches, salads, and drinks.
If you’re a customer who’s only shopping for yourself or you’re a customer who’s shopping for a lot of people, you can purchase goods in small sizes or bulk sizes, which is an added convenience for business owners as well as those who entertain a lot. What makes it really nice for customers is that they can shop for multiple needs at the same time, picking up dinner items for the family and snacks for the entire team all in one place.
Marisol Marks, Director of Communications for Smart & Final, was there to welcome new customers. She explained that Smart & Final “is marketing to those who provide for others.” Whether you’re providing for your family, your business, your team, or whoever, Smart & Final is trying to meet customers’ needs. I was especially impressed because Ms. Marks wanted to personally show me the section of the store where sushi will be prepared right in the store (coming in a few weeks.) She remembered that when I interviewed her in November I said my daughter loves getting take-out sushi from the grocery store. Talk about trying to meet customers’ needs!
Whether you’re looking for goods for your child’s birthday party, your team get-together, or a fancy cocktail party, Smart & Final Extra! is trying to supply what its customers need. There is a party section that includes tablecloths and paper plates in a variety of colors as well as high-end disposable plates for more formal occasions. There are even a variety of platters of different shapes and sizes. In the spirits section, wine connoisseurs will be pleased to find higher-end wines, but those on a budget will also find wines that meet their needs. There is a selection of craft beers available for beer connoisseurs as well. Need fine cheeses and meats for your party? Smart & Final Extra! has a selection in their refrigerated section.
Need a cake? Cakes can be ordered in the bakery section in advance, but if it’s a last minute purchase there are also sheet cakes in varied sizes (even single pieces) that can have an icing message added right there in the store. If you need gluten-free desserts or cheesecake, you’ll find those in the bakery section too.
Smart & Final Extra! has a wide variety of frozen and fresh seafood as well as frozen and fresh meat. There is prepared meat for customers who want to cook at home, but are short on time. Customers interested in gluten-free, vegan, natural, and organic products will be pleased with the store’s “Good & Well” selections throughout the store.
At 12:00 Marisol Marks began the Grand Opening ceremony, where customers, store employees, Smart & Final management, Coronado City Council members, and Coronado Chamber of Commerce members were present. City Councilman Bill Sandke said, “The entrance of Smart & Final means a lot to Coronado both from a residents’ convenience standpoint and also from the larger picture as a clear sign of our solid economic foundation here in Coronado contributed to by the Coronado Chamber of Commerce.” He said the fact that a strong brand like Smart & Final seeking to do business here in Coronado “says a lot about their confidence in our community.” Coronado Chamber of Commerce Chairman Phil Hammett said, “Smart & Final got it right. It’s an unbelievable market that’s going to cater to our businesses as well as residents, which is fantastic.”
Coronado Smart & Final Extra! is already reaching out to the Coronado community, and gave a $2,500 check to the Stephen J. Wampler Foundation as well as a $2,500 check to Coronado Youth Softball. Additionally on March 10, 2016 Smart & Final Extra! will be sponsoring the Coronado Schools Foundation student-produced Telethon.
After the presentation of the checks, everyone gathered in front of the store to join together in the ribbon cutting. Smart & Final Extra! is officially open for business! If you are interested in seeking employment, Marks encourages applicants to apply in one to two weeks.