Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Walmart to return to Southgate Plaza with its grocery concept

Cathie Anderson
Cathie Anderson

Wal-Mart will return to Sacramento’s Southgate Plaza with a Neighborhood Market grocery store in 2015. It vacated the space in 2009 to build a Supercenter at Florin Towne Centre but held onto its long-term lease on 133,000 square feet.

“We are always looking for ways to serve our customers better, to provide more convenient access to the products that they want to purchase,” said Delia Garcia, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart. “The Neighborhood Market format offers quick, convenient shopping with a full grocery department, including organic and natural selections.”

Landlord NewMark Merrill has renovated and updated Southgate, and the changes have attracted new tenants such as 99 Ranch Market, Anna’s Linens and the 99 Cent Only Store, but the giant space in the middle was like a black hole that sucked the momentum out of the redevelopment. Last year, after Wal-Mart reportedly rejected overtures from a potential tenant, local politicians grew concerned that the retail giant was standing in the way of the community’s best interests. Sacramento County Supervisior Jimmie Yee, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, and U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, urged the retail giant to work with NewMark Merrill to improve the climate for business.

Larry Carr, executive director of the Florin Road Partnership, called the Neighborhood Market a great idea for the center at Florin Road and Franklin Boulevard: “The area is still underserved with grocery stores, believe it or not, and it will go a long way toward revitalizing that center.”

Yee told me: “Wal-Mart listened to me and responded to their needs. A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market at Southgate Plaza will provide area residents with an affordable place to shop for their groceries while also providing an economic boost to the shopping center and surrounding businesses.”

Garcia said that Wal-Mart will use 53,000 square feet of the space for the region’s sixth Neighborhood Market, about a quarter of the size of the Supercenter at Florin Towne Center. The company has paid a termination fee on the lease for the remaining 80,000 square feet at Southgate, Garcia said, and control of it reverts to NewMark Merrill. The Neighborhood Market will employ 95.

Southgate also has landed F&M Bank from across the street on Franklin Boulevard. Scott Rogalski, F&M’s business banker, said NewMark Merrill has really revitalized Southgate with LED signage, new facades for the buildings and the resurfacing of parking lots.

“We’re going to move into the old Blockbuster,” he said. “We’ll only occupy half the building, and we were told the other half possibly could be a Starbucks.”

Starbucks said it has no new store announcements at this time.

It’s all-access radio

Leon Reyes, the self-described Mayor of Salsamento, and dozens of other volunteer DJs have produced a mix of music and talk programming for Access Sacramento for years, but their shows never aired in one particular format: the radio.

That will change this year because the Federal Communications Commission recently assigned a low-power 100-watt FM station to Access Sacramento at 96.5 KUBU-LP.

“The call sign seems to fit like a glove,” said Gary Martin, the executive director of Access Sacramento. “After all, where else in the Sacramento area can community members use a radio station that will let U-B-U?”

Martin said he sent the application to the FCC last October. He now must go to the Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Television Commission and apply for $25,000 in capital to buy and install a transmitter and antenna. It will be the first time that Martin has submitted budget requests to the commission. He took the reins of Access Sacramento last July, after longtime leader Ron Cooper retired.

The low-power station will be audible from midtown Sacramento and outward to such destinations as Sleep Train Arena, Southgate Plaza, Sacramento State and West Sacramento. If all goes well, KUBU could be up and running by fall, said Martin, who sees radio as an organic step.

“The radio broadcasters have always been the audio portion of a bulletin board system on cable TV or on the Internet with our Internet outreach,” he explained. “This really is an opportunity to be in people’s cars and to be connected in a way that is not tied to having listeners purchase cable television.”

That’s how the doughnut rolls

Baker’s Donuts, a tiny mom-and-pop shop at 5880 Florin Road, is thriving in the shadow of Krispy Kreme in south Sacramento.

“We were worried when they first opened,” said Douglas Hem, who occasionally manages the shop owned by his mother, Siukun Tun Hem, and his stepfather, Randy Cheng. “Then later on we realized that we have our customers, we’ve established a relationship with them, and they came to us because they know they like our type of doughnuts.”

Hem recalled meeting the manager of the Krispy Kreme just before the competition opened its doors.

“He said, ‘You might get business,’ ” Hem said, “and I was like, ‘Why would you tell us that? Why would we get business?’ But now it actually is happening. We get a lot of good business. If they’re busy, then we get busy because people don’t want to wait in a long line.”

The 24-year-old Hem, a graduate of Monterey Trail High School and the University of California, Davis, said business also picked up after the 30-year-old Baker’s introduced croissant-doughnuts – copycat Cronuts – to its menu of treats.

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