New owners steer Albertsons in different direction |

New owners steer Albertsons in different direction

Patrick McCartney
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunEmployees of Save Mart, formerly Albertsons, stand behind the ribbon during the Grand Opening of the store in Truckee Wednesday morning. Both Albertsons in Truckee and Tahoe City are now Save Marts.

Goodbye, Albertsons. Hello, Save Mart.

After a brief ceremony Wednesday morning, the former Albertsons supermarket in Truckee reopened as Save Mart, the name of its new owners.

The Albertsons in Tahoe City is closed today and will undergo the same name change when it reopens on Friday.

In February, the privately held Save Mart purchased 132 Albertsons grocery stores in Northern California and Nevada.

In brief remarks at the opening ceremony in Truckee Wednesday, the president of the Modesto-based company promised to improve the chain’s customer service.

“We’re in the people business; we just happen to sell groceries,” said Bob Spengler before cutting a ribbon and welcoming customers to the renovated market.

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During the two days the store closed, employees repriced many of the items in stock. No longer will consumers be asked for a “preferred customer” card to receive a discounted price, according to Donna Finn, who manages the Truckee grocery store.

“Everybody is a preferred customer now,” Finn said in a phone interview. “No card will be needed.”

Along with the change in pricing philosophy, Finn said the new owners also ordered renovations to the store’s interior. The new decor is “soft, more welcoming, friendly,” Finn said.

“It’s not just a new sign that says produce, but [the decor] invites you into the farmer’s field,” she said.

The new Save Mart is currently hiring, although the change in ownership is not expected to affect the store’s overall payroll, which averages about 40 employees, Finn said. Staffing is highest during the holidays and most stable over the summer months, she added.

The makeover of the Truckee and Tahoe City supermarkets arrives on the heels of a major renovation of the Safeway markets in Truckee and Kings Beach.

In late July, Safeway reopened its Truckee supermarket after extensive remodeling. Renovations included an expansion of its bakery and produce sections, softer lighting and an emphasis on ready-to-serve meals and organic foods.

Safeway dubbed the new design a “lifestyle store format.”

In an area with competing supermarkets, Tahoe-Truckee residents may prove to be the winners.