New life for Olivehurst store
The new owners of Olivehurst's biggest grocery store are trying to turn it around.
Warren's Market, on Powerline Road, had slipped, offering empty shelves and bad product, said store manager Scott Brown.
"People gave up on the store," he said. "Most of the community has given up on the store."
Now Brown, an experienced supermarket manager, and new store owners Jaswant and Jarnail Masson, want to get the 17,000 square foot supermarket back on track.
Because the nearest supermarket is in Linda, any efforts to improve the store could be important for Olivehurst residents. The community has a high poverty rate, and many residents can't always hop in a car and drive for miles to buy food. Nearby subdivisions are springing up, including Plumas Lake-area homes only a few miles away. Although the residents there have more money, they don't have anywhere close to shop for groceries.
"This is the only supermarket for 10,000 people," Brown said, referring to Olivehurst's population.
Brown is hoping they'll look to what is now called Valley Supermarket, a new name designed to reflect the area. Trees were cut down to allow motorists passing on Highway 70 to see the Valley Supermarket sign.
Fresh paint and clean floors have brightened up the interior. Holes in the roof were fixed. Most important, from a food quality standpoint, is work done to repair missing refrigerator motors and recharge the cooling systems' refrigerant.
"We got them within temperature specs," Brown said of the coolers.
New products have been added, including a Hispanic specialty food aisle and a discount aisle. The number of products the store carries has been increased from 1,200 different items to 3,000.
Brown said the Masson brothers have spent about $30,000 a month improving the store since they bought it in May. They're gearing up for an early August grand opening. Proceeds from food sales outside the store will be donated to charity.
With that much being spent, the store is anything but a money maker for the Massons, who moved from New Jersey after buying the grocery.
Jarnail Masson said he and his brother got tired of battling with New Jersey bureaucrats who had no interest in supporting their commercial development ideas. They bought the grocery store, the attached shopping center and adjoining acreage which they hope to develop into stores that will lure people off the highway.
For now, there is plenty more work to be done on the grocery. Brown said plans are to spend $500,000 to revamp the building front. Store owners are also looking for new freezers and coolers. At $40,000 and up, those are big ticket items.
The new owners also plan to install a counter for check cashing, postal services and money orders.
Brown said a lack of historical financial information complicates tracking whether the costly improvements have brought in more revenue.
Some customers said they have noticed a difference in the store.
"I've noticed a big improvement from what it was," said Lynn Holmes, a frequent customer who was shopping Monday. "It used to be cruddy-looking. Now it's looking better, cleaner."
Mary Owings, owner of Powerline Laundromat, said she heard several people commenting on empty shelves and bad food at one time. But the new owners are trying hard, said Owings, who leases from them.
"They're fixing it up, cleaning it up, stocking the shelves, and it's looking much better," she said.
Appeal-Democrat reporter John Dickey can be reached at 749-4711. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.