- Albertsons-owned United Supermarkets has expanded its gourmet Market Street grocery banner beyond Texas borders, according to an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican. An Albertsons at the DeVargas Center in Santa Fe has undergone a $6 million makeover to become New Mexico’s first Market Street location.
- The rebranded Market Street store will feature in-house dining, an executive chef, a certified butcher, cheese and floral experts, a 3,300-square-foot liquor store, in-house sushi, freshly made pizza and more than 400 made-in-New Mexico items. A concierge service will also be on site.
- The 63,000-square-foot grocery store will employ up to 425 people, almost three times the 150 employees that served the store while it operated as an Albertsons. There are no plans in place for additional Market Street locations in New Mexico.
Though Market Street is popular in Texas, it has a limited footprint of about 16 stores. Albertsons and United Supermarkets have not made any notable pushes to expand the brand widely up to this point.
This new Santa Fe location could signal a new direction. It will be the second Market Street-style store to open this year outside of Texas. Albertsons also opened a flagship store in Boise, Idaho, earlier this year — and though it is not operating under the Market Street name, it follows the same specialty format. The $7.2 million store in Boise features a bar with a view, a chocolatier, a high-end deli and from-scratch bakery. There is also one additional Market Street format store in progress in Meridian, Idaho, just outside of Boise.
“In the Treasure Valley, we have 23 Albertsons stores. So to build another store would have just been OK,” John Colgrove, president of Albertsons Intermountain Division, told Grocery Dive in a previous interview. “When we decided to build this store, we wanted to offer something unique and fresh and different.”
The company seems to be taking a similar approach in Santa Fe, aiming to attract foodies and create a memorable experience that will draw shoppers who typically choose Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Natural Grocers in the area. The Santa Fe New Mexican article notes the “crowded” gourmet grocery scene in Santa Fe, including a Sprouts located in the same shopping center as the new Market Street.
In addition to transforming the store into a foodie’s paradise, Market Street in Santa Fe will feature event space for small weddings and corporate meetings and events. E-commerce will also play a role at the new location, with free curbside grocery pickup available for orders larger than $30.
Market Street stores are extremely popular and draw quick success for Albertsons and United Supermarkets. The concept, launched in 1998 under United, show the company’s early recognition of the need for specialty features and upscale food offerings.
It’s not clear why Albertsons and United Supermarkets are rolling out new Market Street locations so slowly, but it could be the desire to maintain that instant success of each location. They could achieve that through a slower process and deeper understanding of the markets they choose. There also may be an opportunity for more locations as the companies evaluate the success — or lack thereof — of existing Albertsons and United Supermarkets locations as possible conversions to Market Street.
Albertsons has been relatively slow to grow this year, with a number of store closures and a failed partnership with Rite-Aid, but the company has also invested in e-commerce, store remodels and new offerings such as Plated meal kits. It appears that the grocer is finding its footing in today’s grocery landscape, and the industry will just have to wait and see how Market Street plays into its long-term strategy.