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Recent news concerning the Smith’s Marketplace might make increased construction activities at the Trinity Site more bearable.
Smith’s Food & Drug Vice President of Public Affairs Marsha Gilford confirmed to the Los Alamos Monitor that Kroger’s/Smith’s hopes to open its 110,000-square-foot Smith’s Marketplace in May 2014. The opening was originally projected for November 2014.
This will be the first new Marketplace built outside of Utah, and only the second new store in the chain.
Dee Smith founded the Smith’s chain with one store in 1932, and expanded it by acquiring other grocery chains that were floundering and turning them into successful ventures.
That included two Globe Discount markets in Albuquerque, purchased 1977, and 23 Foodway stores purchased in 1978.
The Marketplace concept started in 1999 when Kroger Company bought the Smith’s chain. Kroger had another division called Fred Meyer, a chain of grocery/general merchandise stores.
Rather than have two full management teams, Kroger challenged Smith’s to take over the Fred Meyer operations.
“The real attribution that this merger brought, in addition to a lot more square footage of stores, was this whole general merchandise buying team, and knowledgeable people who ran successful stores and knew about what it took to sell patio furniture and clothing and sheets and shoes and all these kinds of things that they’d been doing for years,” Gilford said.
Smith’s worked to combine Fred Meyer’s thriving general merchandise sales with upgrades to the grocery departments–which were under par–and transformed six Fred Meyer stores in Utah into Smith’s Marketplace stores.
“So for about three years after the acquisition we worked to remodel the old Fred Meyer stores, rebrand them as Smith’s Marketplace and figure out how to run these,” Gilford said. “And they’ve been very successful. Now we’re expanding Marketplace stores. We just built another one in Utah. We plan to do one or two more in Utah over the next five years.”
Smith’s has also tested the Marketplace concept by revamping other stores throughout the United States and testing key markets for expansion. Los Alamos seemed to be a perfect candidate.
“Knowing that Los Alamos is located in such an isolated area without a lot of similar conveniences to Albuquerque or even Santa Fe, it’s interested us for a long time to try to bring more resources there,” Gilford said.
“We acknowledge that our store is tired, and we’re always battling should we upgrade that store or should we try to bring in a broader format in a Marketplace store.”
After years of negotiations with various developers interested in the Trinity Site, and a number of aborted deals, Kroger’s signed a lease agreement with the county to develop the site, with the Marketplace as the
The new Marketplace has been designed to mesh architecturally with the rest of the community.
“We want it to have that natural but upscale feel of Los Alamos,” Gilford said. “We recognize that there’s a lot of style development that’s happening on Central. You’ve got a lot of new architecture that’s happening, and we think that this store is going to complement that really well.”
The grocery section will have a wine cellar and a wine tasting area, a “huge” floral department, gourmet desserts and artisan breads, and a fruit cutting station.
The store will also have expanded fresh meat and seafood offerings as well as organic foods.
The store will also have a large cosmetics section and carry sporting goods, electronics, home fashion, a small selection of hardware and tabletop items such as dishes and cookware.
Gilford was unable to provide updates on other pads at the Trinity Site or what will become of the current Smith’s location in the Mari-Mac Center once the Marketplace opens. She said that Smith’s/Kroger is “engaged in conversations with a number of interested parties, but we don’t have any firm agreements at this point.”
Gilford is enthused about the new Marketplace.
“This store is going to provide such a great shopping experience, and it’s going to be so different than our current Smith’s. For our president, this is his personally exciting project. He is invested in this. He wants it to be fabulous.”