Meet Your Tahoe Merchant: Completed supermarket remodel gives store fresh, natural feel
Special to the Bonanza
As the sun starts to shine, flowers begin to bud and temperatures continue to rise, it’s clear that spring is here. And with the change in season, comes the long awaited completion of changes at Raley’s supermarket.
The remodel, which began last September and went throughout the winter, has both employees and customers glad to see the store back in working order.
“It was a stressful time for everybody, but everybody loves the way it looks now,” said Store Director Mike Finn. The happiness at the project’s completion is tangible: smiling employees greet customers and each other, some even whistle as they unload carts of produce.
Although the store did not close during construction, the change and upheaval of each aisle, the laying of new floor, and new refrigerator installations made for a hectic time.
“There’s nothing in the store that’s in the same place. Everything has changed,” Finn said. “It was more of a challenge for our customers, but in a remodel, you have to move things.”
Finn said customers were understanding through the process, with a majority of people “making a game of it, asking — ‘Where is the treasure hunt today?!’”
In addition to new flooring, an increase in produce and natural foods, and new refrigerators, the supermarket has been painted and given a new look.
“My daughter told me to come check it out,” said Vera Weber, who visited the remodeled store for the first time last week. “She said, be sure to take your roller skates because it’s so big!”
The remodel and the additions have been part of the company’s change to become more energy efficient. In January 2009, Raley’s joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership to help fight climate change and protect the Earth’s ozone layer. Since joining, the supermarket chain has received top ratings as a Green Company.
Now customers can find energy-efficient fans and refrigerators, as well as LED lighting and motion sensors, which light up the fridges as they’re approached. All the upgrades will lead to a 30 percent decrease in energy usage. New stained concrete flooring allows for easy cleaning, using water instead of chemicals on the surface.
Nationwide, the family-owned corporation decided to incorporate more natural foods, as well as increase produce and bulk items.
Near the produce section customers can find large vats of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, two types of honey and agave syrup to purchase in any quantity. The bulk section is the largest of any Raley’s supermarkets; it offers loose leaf teas, grind yourself almond and peanut butter, and spices. This way, Finn said, customers can buy either a lot or just a little of whatever they may be looking for.
“There are more choices,” he said. “With the pick and mix trail mix, it lets you fine tune things.”
Perhaps the most exciting and somewhat entertaining addition to the grocery store is the Mongolian Grill, where an array of meats, vegetables, spices and sauces located near the expanded café side of the store, allows customers to fill up their bowls and hand them over to be cooked on large grills behind the counter. The food-served-fast option offers a quick meal for customers.
Bopha Duch is the Mongolian Grill’s assistant manager and has a culinary background. Duch said the bowls are popular sellers, averaging 90 to 100 per day.
“It’s entertaining for the customers,” Duch said. “People bring their kids; especially the younger kids like to watch.”
Besides the new options inside the store, the community will also benefit from new picnic tables at Sand Harbor. Nevada State Parks chose to use Raley’s donation of $25,000 from its NickelAid Campaign to go toward the state park. The money was raised since last August, when Raley’s donated 5 cents for every reusable bag used at checkout.
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