Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

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Re: Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

Post by veteran+ »

Romr123 wrote: April 9th, 2021, 5:30 am The one in Palm Springs seems very comparable to me to Gordon Food Services' stores in the midwest/Florida...good place to go if you are entertaining and need chafer trays and bulk stuff; if you've got a food truck/church kitchen and need a one stop for big-sized, for instance, chili makings and don't want to fuss with Costco/Sams. Seems to fill a niche to me below Restaurant Depot and above Aldi (which is probably cheaper if you're, for instance, gathering stuff for food baskets)
I have not had good customer service experiences there.

And, their prices are not attractive.

:(
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Re: Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

Post by storewanderer »

Bagels wrote: April 9th, 2021, 11:33 am I haven't been in a S&F since late 2019/early 2020, when I stopped in the Corona Del Mar location, so things may have changed, but their pricing on bulk, generic meat & produce was unbeatable. Bananas and carrots for 29c/lb., potatoes for 5c/lb., medium green bell peppers for about 15c each, etc. We're not talking about "Costco" bulk, where you purchase 4-6 green bell peppers -- we're talking about a whole box of about 75 or more. I concur with the observation that S&F seems to be the market leader in SoCal among small businesses (food trucks/sands, local restaurants, etc.) In the past, I've noticed that some franchised restaurants -- including Subways, Domino's, etc. -- were using some First Street products, so presumably some of their meat and/or produce was being purchased from S&F as well, which likely indicates they're getting better pricing from S&F,

I do agree that S&F's overall business strategy, to shift focus from primarily B2B to B2C, has largely failed. IMO, it's largely perception -- they offered full-service grocery stores (many of which were expanded, replaced or ex-Albertsons/Vons and featured full-service bakeries, meat and/or delis) with higher-quality perishables and pricing that beat Ralphs/Albertsons/Vons. They even ran sales with deep loss leaders. But the public never caught on. They should've advertised their change more heavily. Eventually, they focused on opening stores in areas where Ralphs and Albertsons had abandoned -- but specialized ethic grocers that better cater to those communities are abundant, and thus many of these stores quickly closed.

Since S&F was sold to a private equity firm, its prices have noticeably climbed, while the quality of its produce has diminished. Ultimately, I agree that unless a location is convenient, there's no reason to shop here.
I've never seen pricing anywhere close to what you describe at Smart & Final on those bulk boxes of produce but by the same token they aren't on the sales floor, you have to ask for them. They must run things a lot differently in SoCal than they do in NV or NorCal. I did notice last time I was in Bishop the pricing at the tiny Smart & Final there seemed lower than Reno (???) but thought maybe my memory was off. Anyway, my observation is they basically gave up on the business/food service customer in the NorCal/NV markets- maybe because they had Smart Foodservice in those markets for the business customer, but did not have that format in SoCal?

Produce pricing on consumer unit quantities at Smart & Final is awful the past couple years. Not sure what customer they are trying to capture, maybe the one who Supervalu used to try to capture when they owned Albertsons (the one who wanted lousy quality at terrible prices- not many of those customers around).
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Re: Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

Post by Bagels »

storewanderer wrote: April 10th, 2021, 10:37 pm
Bagels wrote: April 9th, 2021, 11:33 am I haven't been in a S&F since late 2019/early 2020, when I stopped in the Corona Del Mar location, so things may have changed, but their pricing on bulk, generic meat & produce was unbeatable. Bananas and carrots for 29c/lb., potatoes for 5c/lb., medium green bell peppers for about 15c each, etc. We're not talking about "Costco" bulk, where you purchase 4-6 green bell peppers -- we're talking about a whole box of about 75 or more. I concur with the observation that S&F seems to be the market leader in SoCal among small businesses (food trucks/sands, local restaurants, etc.) In the past, I've noticed that some franchised restaurants -- including Subways, Domino's, etc. -- were using some First Street products, so presumably some of their meat and/or produce was being purchased from S&F as well, which likely indicates they're getting better pricing from S&F,

I do agree that S&F's overall business strategy, to shift focus from primarily B2B to B2C, has largely failed. IMO, it's largely perception -- they offered full-service grocery stores (many of which were expanded, replaced or ex-Albertsons/Vons and featured full-service bakeries, meat and/or delis) with higher-quality perishables and pricing that beat Ralphs/Albertsons/Vons. They even ran sales with deep loss leaders. But the public never caught on. They should've advertised their change more heavily. Eventually, they focused on opening stores in areas where Ralphs and Albertsons had abandoned -- but specialized ethic grocers that better cater to those communities are abundant, and thus many of these stores quickly closed.

Since S&F was sold to a private equity firm, its prices have noticeably climbed, while the quality of its produce has diminished. Ultimately, I agree that unless a location is convenient, there's no reason to shop here.
I've never seen pricing anywhere close to what you describe at Smart & Final on those bulk boxes of produce but by the same token they aren't on the sales floor, you have to ask for them. They must run things a lot differently in SoCal than they do in NV or NorCal. I did notice last time I was in Bishop the pricing at the tiny Smart & Final there seemed lower than Reno (???) but thought maybe my memory was off. Anyway, my observation is they basically gave up on the business/food service customer in the NorCal/NV markets- maybe because they had Smart Foodservice in those markets for the business customer, but did not have that format in SoCal?

Produce pricing on consumer unit quantities at Smart & Final is awful the past couple years. Not sure what customer they are trying to capture, maybe the one who Supervalu used to try to capture when they owned Albertsons (the one who wanted lousy quality at terrible prices- not many of those customers around).
Their consumer pricing isn’t bad. Looking at their app, they have multiple varieties of apples for 99c/lb., three pack of romaine hearts for $2.50, 14 oz. canned fruit for 79c, cake slices for 1.99 each, etc. These prices beat Walmart. Many others are slightly more than Walmart, but less than Ralph’s and Albertsons.

Name brand stuff isn’t as competitive, but everything else is.
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Re: Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

Post by storewanderer »

Bagels wrote: April 14th, 2021, 11:00 pm Their consumer pricing isn’t bad. Looking at their app, they have multiple varieties of apples for 99c/lb., three pack of romaine hearts for $2.50, 14 oz. canned fruit for 79c, cake slices for 1.99 each, etc. These prices beat Walmart. Many others are slightly more than Walmart, but less than Ralph’s and Albertsons.

Name brand stuff isn’t as competitive, but everything else is.
The only canned fruit I see is 11oz Mandarin Oranges for 0.79 on sale regularly 0.89 (Wal Mart is .88 for that but also has a 15oz for .98 so I guess you could say they are cheaper). The other store brand canned fruits are 1.29 (those are 1.12 at Wal Mart). I see the fuji, gala, braeburn, and golden delicious apples at 0.98/lb (Wal Mart mostly at 1.28/lb) but it does not specify what size- if those are small apples that is a typical price. Not real clear on the romaine hearts comparing what they have to other stores since it does not show a brand or anything but it is 2.69 here for the 3 count (Wal Mart at 3.10). They don't sell any cake slices here to my knowledge unless there is some defrost and sell item not on the website.

Maybe their prices look competitive there in SoCal compared to a Vons or Ralphs but they are not competitive in Nevada and I don't think they'd be competitive to a Food 4 Less or WinCo in SoCal either on any of these items, or to various hispanic operators on the produce. Maybe I'd have a different opinion about their prices if my only choices were Vons, Ralphs, or Smart & Final. But adding in the various options I have to the mix here around Reno- Safeway (with a price cut program that is very good), Smiths, Raleys even (runs promos like .97/lb honeycrisp or Opal apples multiple times so far this year), WinCo, Wal Mart, Sprouts, Trader Joe's, Scolaris (had Honeycrisp .99/lb last week, has Cosmic Crisp .99/lb this week), and others I'm forgetting- this store's pricing is no draw and add to it an unsafe parking lot and lousy service due to not enough staffing in the store and it is just a completely undesirable place to shop. But the store does well so obviously some people like it (the nearby competitor Save Mart isn't great... but I'd find a way to like Save Mart better if I had to pick between the two).

But - I did shop their Smart Foodservice most weeks back when they owned that... there were some items there at prices I found acceptable. Mostly different supply chain from Smart & Final there, definitely higher quality items. So despite my dislike for Smart & Final in general I did give them quite a bit of business at the Smart Foodservice unit.
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Re: Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

Post by veteran+ »

Based on MY typical grocery purchases in San Diego, Palm Springs and Los Angeles, Smart & Final is not cheaper than Vons or Ralphs.

An item here and there that is cheaper AND the VERY limited assortment does not make it very competitive for me.

I won't even go into customer service, cleanliness and presentation.

The store at Santa Monica Bl. in West Hollywood is really gross! They cannot even clean the inside of the windows where merchandise has fallen (in plain view of customers walking by).
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Re: Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

Post by Bagels »

storewanderer wrote: April 14th, 2021, 11:34 pmThe only canned fruit I see is 11oz Mandarin Oranges for 0.79 on sale regularly 0.89 (Wal Mart is .88 for that but also has a 15oz for .98 so I guess you could say they are cheaper). The other store brand canned fruits are 1.29 (those are 1.12 at Wal Mart). I see the fuji, gala, braeburn, and golden delicious apples at 0.98/lb (Wal Mart mostly at 1.28/lb) but it does not specify what size- if those are small apples that is a typical price. Not real clear on the romaine hearts comparing what they have to other stores since it does not show a brand or anything but it is 2.69 here for the 3 count (Wal Mart at 3.10). They don't sell any cake slices here to my knowledge unless there is some defrost and sell item not on the website.

Maybe their prices look competitive there in SoCal compared to a Vons or Ralphs but they are not competitive in Nevada and I don't think they'd be competitive to a Food 4 Less or WinCo in SoCal either on any of these items, or to various hispanic operators on the produce. Maybe I'd have a different opinion about their prices if my only choices were Vons, Ralphs, or Smart & Final. But adding in the various options I have to the mix here around Reno- Safeway (with a price cut program that is very good), Smiths, Raleys even (runs promos like .97/lb honeycrisp or Opal apples multiple times so far this year), WinCo, Wal Mart, Sprouts, Trader Joe's, Scolaris (had Honeycrisp .99/lb last week, has Cosmic Crisp .99/lb this week), and others I'm forgetting- this store's pricing is no draw and add to it an unsafe parking lot and lousy service due to not enough staffing in the store and it is just a completely undesirable place to shop. But the store does well so obviously some people like it (the nearby competitor Save Mart isn't great... but I'd find a way to like Save Mart better if I had to pick between the two).

But - I did shop their Smart Foodservice most weeks back when they owned that... there were some items there at prices I found acceptable. Mostly different supply chain from Smart & Final there, definitely higher quality items. So despite my dislike for Smart & Final in general I did give them quite a bit of business at the Smart Foodservice unit.
In the late 2000s, S&F developed its "SmartCo" concept, which was a full-service traditional grocery store that emphasized / featured an expanded produce selection, as well as bulk goods. The goal was to appeal toward individuals AND local businesses. They built several prototype locations in the Denver area; at launch, they heavily discussed how much lower their pricing was vs. King Soopers and Safeway. Additional porotype's opened, including one near me in Lake Forest.

Allegedly, these were intended to be show pieces for S&F to attract investor funds; S&F was rumored to be interested in acquiring in select Albertsons territories from both SuperValu and Cerberus. But the SmartCo concept failed miserably and the Denver locations closed within months. The bakery/deli in Lake Forest was quickly converted into a central kitchen/commissary of sorts for other local S&F, which began carrying house made products.

Even before the Albertsons-Vons merger was announced, S&F had acquired a few closed Ralphs/Vons/Albertsons (and even outbid Ralphs on renewal of one store), in attempts to reboot the SmartCo. concept under the S&F Extra! banner. As I've written on here many times, they did indeed offer quality produce and better pricing than its peers. But it failed to market this well.

While we don't discuss S&F much on these forums, I've noticed that they've closed several stores (mostly ex-Vons/Albertsons) in the past few years. You're correct -- with tremendous competition and new ownership that raised prices while lowering perishable quality, there's little reason to shop at S&F today. But in the past, they were definitely an underrated option.
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Re: Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

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Bagels wrote: April 17th, 2021, 8:14 pm Allegedly, these were intended to be show pieces for S&F to attract investor funds; S&F was rumored to be interested in acquiring in select Albertsons territories from both SuperValu and Cerberus. But the SmartCo concept failed miserably and the Denver locations closed within months. The bakery/deli in Lake Forest was quickly converted into a central kitchen/commissary of sorts for other local S&F, which began carrying house made products.

Even before the Albertsons-Vons merger was announced, S&F had acquired a few closed Ralphs/Vons/Albertsons (and even outbid Ralphs on renewal of one store), in attempts to reboot the SmartCo. concept under the S&F Extra! banner. As I've written on here many times, they did indeed offer quality produce and better pricing than its peers. But it failed to market this well.
The Reno Smart & Final Extra was one of the first to open, around the same time as the Denver thing was going on. It was a new build store replacing an early 90's Smart & Final (which was within a year or two reopened as Cash & Carry Smart Foodservice). When it initially opened it had a fairly large produce department but a rather limited size meat area and basically no bakery/deli (thaw and sell) but it did have roasted chickens being cooked in a room behind produce. It even had some Springfield items when it opened as Smart & Final was unable to fully merchandise this quasi-conventional format store. But it was still mostly large sizes. It also sold Equaline items for HBA/Drug from Supervalu.

I never quite understood what the difference was between Smart & Final Extra and SmartCo. There must have been some difference. I am wondering if the current Smart & Final Extra format is really the SmartCo format.

Over the years, the Smart & Final Extra has expanded its produce area, expanded meat, and added way more conventional size items. The stuff from the wholesalers is long gone and they are self-supplying these items. They kept the old Sun Harvest natural/organic private label from Henry's and have actually expanded the number of SKUs under that line quite a bit. Not sure why because it isn't a fit for them at all. They do not sell nearly as many large size items as they used to.
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Re: Smart & Final Corona Del Mar Closed

Post by Bagels »

storewanderer wrote: April 17th, 2021, 10:59 pmThe Reno Smart & Final Extra was one of the first to open, around the same time as the Denver thing was going on. It was a new build store replacing an early 90's Smart & Final (which was within a year or two reopened as Cash & Carry Smart Foodservice). When it initially opened it had a fairly large produce department but a rather limited size meat area and basically no bakery/deli (thaw and sell) but it did have roasted chickens being cooked in a room behind produce. It even had some Springfield items when it opened as Smart & Final was unable to fully merchandise this quasi-conventional format store. But it was still mostly large sizes. It also sold Equaline items for HBA/Drug from Supervalu.

I never quite understood what the difference was between Smart & Final Extra and SmartCo. There must have been some difference. I am wondering if the current Smart & Final Extra format is really the SmartCo format.

Over the years, the Smart & Final Extra has expanded its produce area, expanded meat, and added way more conventional size items. The stuff from the wholesalers is long gone and they are self-supplying these items. They kept the old Sun Harvest natural/organic private label from Henry's and have actually expanded the number of SKUs under that line quite a bit. Not sure why because it isn't a fit for them at all. They do not sell nearly as many large size items as they used to.
SmartCo-flagged stores were traditional, full-service grocery stores - with full-service meal, deli and bakeries, expanded produce offerings, etc., along with bulk purchases. Extra-flagged stores added a limited assortment of conventional groceries, including perishables. The SmartCo concept was quickly scrapped, but many traditional S&F as well as Extra were renovated and revamped to focus on an expanded assortment of conventional groceries, including an enhanced produce area.

S&F tried to reboot the SmartCo concept mid-decade, even before the acquisition of ex-Haggen stores. They signed a lease on a former Ralphs not far from me, and operated it for awhile with full-service meat, deli and bakery. The same was true with many of the ex-Haggen stores. This has gradually changed; the ex-Ralphs was renovated not long ago, and a large portion of the store became a Walgreens. And most of the ex-Haggen stores have removed their full-service departments.

I was in an ex-Vons/Haggen awhile ago, and the store looked like a Vons -- but with S&F graphics package + warehouse shelving. The full-service deli/bakery was still there, but now branded as a bakery only, and with self-service cases only. Waste of space.
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