Monday, August 6th, 2007 at 3:13 pm in Uncategorized.
For those who’ve lived in San Mateo County as long as the Insider has, does anyone else find it to be a bit of a shock to drive by your local Albertsons and discover that its name is now prominently displayed (as shown below) as Lucky?
Lucky? How could this be? Is the local grocery store of the Insider’s bucolic childhood, lost in 1999 to the indiscriminate malaise of corporate takeover, back?
The Insider first noticed the return of Lucky at newly-named Friendship Plaza at the corner of Murchison Drive and El Camino Real in Millbrae. With all the construction going on there (they’re building a new Walgreens and adding more yet-to-be-occupied retail space), the Insider wondered, had the Albertson’s sign been knocked down by a crane and the red script Lucky sign underneath it accidently unearthed?
It turns out this is no accident.
The Northern California division of Albertson’s was acquired by Save Mart Supermarkets in November, and included in the deal was exculsive rights to use the Lucky name in areas where Albertson’s operated. Save Mart, which acquired 132 stores from Albertson’s, plans to convert 72 Bay Area stores to Lucky.
Since July 22, Save Mart was aiming to convert at a rate of eight stores a week. In San Mateo County, seven stores have been converted.
Lucky was a San Mateo County icon. According to Grocerteria.com, a Web site dedicated to the history of the American supermarket, Lucky began in San Mateo County as Peninsula Stores. It expanded to the East Bay in 1935, resulting in what investor Charles Crouch called his “lucky stores,” and the name was first used at the Berkeley store on Shattuck Avenue.
As an answer to Safeway, Lucky stores were clustered primarily in Oakland and the East Bay. A flagship San Leandro store opened in 1947 was one of the first attempts at the modern supermarket. Lucky was acquired by American Stores in 1988 which was then acquired Albertson’s in 1998. Lucky stores were re-branded as Albertson’s in 1999.
Save Mart is headquartered in Modesto and operates 252 stores in Northern California and Nevada under various brands. Their resurrection of the Lucky brand is no accident.
“Lucky stores were known for their high quality products at extremely competitive prices,” a July 25 press release about the Lucky openings said. “Save Mart intends to restore that heritage.”
If Save Mart really wants to restore the Lucky heritage and use nostalgia to draw customers, will they also bring back the 1980’s-era generic brand that had little more than a bright yellow label on the package with black lettering to identify the product? Or how about its offspring, Lucky’s own generic brand of Lady Lee?
Those were the days, when yellow cake mix was simply “Yellow Cake Mix,” and Lady Lee was a woman you could trust.