DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - September 21, 2007

Lucky again

Supermarkets go back to beloved old name

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

What's in a name?

Plenty, say executives at Save Mart, which purchased Albertson's grocery stores in February and is changing 72 locations back to Lucky.

In 1999, small airplanes hired by Albertson's flew overhead dragging banners asking, "Will you marry me, Lucky?"

Not only did the supermarkets marry, Lucky took Albertson's name, and its identity. Albertson's was purchased by Cerberus in January 2006, which was, in turn, bought by Save Mart Supermarkets Inc.

The Danville store on San Ramon Valley Boulevard next to Longs Drugs became Lucky again last week. It was closed on Wednesday and Thursday, and reopened Friday with a new sign, a spiffed up interior, lowered prices and new uniforms for the staff.

"It's easier to find things, said David Kerr, pointing to the new overhead signs in the aisles on Tuesday morning.

Kerr, a Danville resident for 45 years, said he lives a mile and a half from the store so he has shopped there no matter who owned it.

"I think it's wonderful now," he said.

The purchase finalized in February included 130 grocery stores in Northern California and Nevada.

"We elected to only change 72 of them back to the Lucky banner," said Save Mart spokeswoman Alicia Rockwell. "We did research of the consumer base and the name kept coming back. Some of those shoppers never really stopped calling them 'Lucky.'"

The remainder of the stores will fly the Save Mart banner, she said, and two of the Albertson's closed locations, on Monument Boulevard in Concord and in Brentwood, will be reopened as FoodMaxx. The closed location on Diablo Road near I-680 was not part of the purchase.

"A lot of the employees originally worked for Lucky when it was independently owned," Rockwell noted. "If they said it once, they said it a million times - they would love to see the name change."

Prices have been lowered on thousands of items, with notations telling the current and the former price, said Rockwell. Lucky will not have the card program used by Albertson's and these savings will be shared across the board, she added.

She said that, being based in Modesto, Save Mart has a commitment to fresh locally grown produce, which is delivered six days a week from Central Valley and the coastal regions.

Customer Liz Johnson stopped to talk after loading her groceries, and her child, into her car. She said she lives in Danville and shops at the location periodically.

"I like it being Lucky," she said. "I remember it being Lucky when I was little."

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