Whole Foods is an upscale grocer.

Cathie Anderson: Upscale grocers expand despite downturn

Published: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2014 - 8:03 am

People are looking for a shopping experience, that value-added experience of feeling good about paying more.

That's not me talking. It comes directly from securities analyst Laurence Balter of Oracle Investment Research in Maui. He is explaining why, even amid a protracted economic slump, the region is seeing a growing number of upscale, specialty grocers.

"It's the same idea as Starbucks," Balter said. "You can go anywhere and get a decent cup of coffee, but Starbucks made it an experience. … When you walk into a Whole Foods, you're flooded with colors and smells and the excitement."

When shoppers pay their bills, he said, they think about the fact that no pesticides were used on their produce or that the beef came from grass-fed animals or that sustainability was considered when seafood was purchased.

Such standards are why shoppers go to Whole Foods Market, which opened its fourth Sacramento-area store Wednesday in the Davis Commons.

Also Wednesday, the Fresh Market planted its first flag in California, opening its 127th location on Douglas Boulevard in Roseville. Two-thirds of this neighborhood grocer's sales come from perishable foods such as meat, seafood and prepared meals, almost the opposite of traditional grocers.

Put the sales of these five stores together, said securities analyst Ajay Jain of New York's Cantor Fitzgerald, and they would control little more than 1 percent of the Sacramento market.

Boarding at Township 9

Developers of the planned Township 9 project will transform an area known for canneries and packing factories into a 65-acre subdivision.

Yet the developers have taken care to remember the past. You can see this emphasis at the light-rail station on Richards Boulevard at Seventh Street. It is made of materials from the old Bercut brothers cannery.

"We ended up preserving the long-span trusses that go overhead and bricks and windows and basically reconfigured them into what we hoped would be more than just a stop on the light-rail line but a destination for the development," said architect Ron Vrilakas, whose firm designed the station.

Once you're under the trusses, look up for quotes from famous people who lived in Sacramento or from famous people about Sacramento.

Heavyweight champion Max Baer: "Fear is standing across the ring from Joe Louis and knowing he wants to go home early."

The late California Gov. and President Ronald Reagan: "Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement."

Herb Caen: "You can take the kid out of Sacramento but you can't take Sacramento out of the kid."

The old scale house was moved to the light-rail station, and developers envision a coffee shop there one day.

Once Seventh Street gets its broad parkway, Vrilakas said, people will be pulled toward the river.

Meet your local architects

You see the buildings every day. Now talk with the architects who designed them as local firms welcome visitors in an open house from 5-8 p.m. Friday.

Kuchman Architects gave us the Maydestone Building at the corner of 15 and J streets in Sacramento. Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects can show you plans for Powerhouse Science Center.

Maria Ogrydziak Architecture can explain how her firm came up with the design for the Edge Loft Studio in Davis.

Ogrydziak, who lives and works in the Edge Loft, said: "The existing house is a 100-year-old bungalow, and the addition which is right up against it is very contemporary, and where the two spaces meet is where the Edge Loft occurs. It's really a way to explore the old vs. new."

There's no admission fee, but you'll have to register at www.aiacv.org. Click the icon for Brown Paper Tickets.

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