Vic’s IGA Market closes after 18-year run
By LANCE ARMSTRONG
Vic’s IGA Market in the South Hills Shopping Center in South Land Park has permanently closed.
The 40,000-square-foot market, which operated at 5820 South Land Park Drive, had opened its doors to the public in 1996. And those doors were closed for the final time on Sunday, March 1 in preparation of the business’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.
During an interview with this publication on Sunday, March 8, bankruptcy attorney Pete Macaluso said that Vic’s would be filing for bankruptcy during the following day.
And in addressing the topic of the closure of the store, which is owned by A.L. Groups, Inc., Macaluso, a longtime local resident who graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1976, said, “They can’t go back (to operating the store). Look at the competition and the environment. Smart and Final (at 7205 Freeport Blvd.) was the last straw. (That store) opened a couple months ago within four miles (of Vic’s). You have the two Bel Airs and Nugget [Market, which] have historically been players in the game. You have down on South Land Park Drive, (by) the zoo, there’s that kind of upscale market, (Sprouts). Then you have Grocery Outlet (at 6419 Riverside Blvd.). So, this guy just cannot compete given the lease he has. This complex went through a series of (Americans with Disabilities Act) lawsuits four or five years ago, which caused a couple other of the people in the area to go bankrupt, as in Brick Oven Pizza. And coming out of that (situation), the leases haven’t been made any better for the tenants. And because of that (point), he just cannot keep losing money every month.
“Unfortunately given the economic competition and environment, and given the bad lease that he has, there’s no opportunity to renegotiate and reorganize. He’s just got to take his losses and go on and do a new job. He’s going to go on and find an employee job somewhere.
“It’s unfortunate. He didn’t want to do the bankruptcy. Sometimes you just can’t help. But given his age, at this point in time, people have to look at how old they are. Are they going to make their retirement or are they going to spend 10 more years paying off their bills and have no retirement? Sometimes bankruptcy is the only smart economic decision.”
Macaluso also mentioned that prior to the closure of the South Land Park Vic’s, the store’s employees were paid in full and all taxes were paid.
And he added, “(Good Eats), the barbecue place inside the store, (is) moving around the corner, (and Beijing Wok), the Chinese restaurant (which also operated inside the store), has two other locations.”
Vic’s was only the second business to operate at this South Land Park location.
The other business was also a grocery store – Jumbo Market.
That South Land Park building opened in 1968 as the new location of Store No. 4 of the Jumbo Market chain, which eventually included 11 stores from Jackson to Dixon.
The first Jumbo Market was opened at 2355 Florin Road in 1961.
And heading the market at that time was Ben Mar, president; and Harry T. Wong, vice president.
Ben was not new to the grocery business, as he became the manager of State Fair Market at 3222 Stockton Blvd., near the old State Fair grounds, in 1951.
A 1954 advertisement for that market includes a photograph of Ben and the words: “Ben is just a little guy who runs a big market and does a very good job of it. Shop in the State Fair Market and see for yourself.”
After a decade of managing State Fair Market, Ben witnessed the opening of the first Jumbo Market, which had its large business sign placed at the Florin Road site in September 1961. The sign, which cost about $1,600, was created by the Ad-Art Sign Co. of Sacramento.
A second Jumbo Market opened at 7870 Florin Road in about 1964, and Jumbo Market Store No. 3 at 2711 El Camino Ave. made its debut about two years later.
Also involved in the early operations of Jumbo Market was Joe Mar, manager; Raymond Mar, clerk; and Thomas Mar, buyer.
The featured South Land Park Drive building was built to house Jumbo Market No. 4 in 1968.
The project’s architect was Sooky Lee and the contractor was John F. Otto, Inc.
A building inspector’s card, dated May 14, 1968, recognizes the construction cost of the two-story grocery store building as $419,000.
The building passed its final inspection on December 3, 1968.
In 1989, five of the last seven Jumbo Markets were sold, and with the 1996 sale of the business’s South Land Park Drive store, there were no more Jumbo Markets in operation.
As for the original Jumbo Market location at 2355 Florin Road, it was replaced by The Food Depot on Nov. 28, 1994. The store site is presently home to Mi Rancho supermarket.
Vic’s IGA Markets
The final Jumbo Market store on South Land Park Drive was purchased by Vic and LaReece DeStefani and operated as a Vic’s IGA Market. The couple already owned a Vic’s IGA Market at 1330 Fulton Ave.
IGA, which stands for Independent Grocers Alliance, is self described as an organization “founded in 1926, bringing together independent grocers across the United States to ensure that the trusted, family-owned local grocery store remained strong in the face of growing chain competition.” In addition to its American presence, IGA is also represented in more than 30 countries, commonwealths and territories.
The first Vic’s IGA Market opened at Florin and Power Inn roads in 1983, and the Fulton Avenue store opened at the former site of an Alpha Beta store two years later. The latter named Vic’s store remained open until 2007, when it was purchased by Jagtar Kandola, owner of the Zinfandel Grille restaurant, at 2384 Fair Oaks Blvd.
Another Vic’s store made its debut at 9249 Folsom Blvd. in 1986.
At their height, Vic’s IGA Markets were located at seven sites from south Sacramento to Folsom.
Vic, whose parents were immigrants from Italy, sold his last grocery store in the Village Shopping Center at 9580 Oak Ave. Parkway, Suite 4 in Folsom in 2010, but continued to work at that store for another year, at which time he finally retired at the age of 82.
That departure from the Folsom store concluded Vic’s 64 years of working in the grocery business.
Vic, who was raised on a farm near Stockton, began working in the produce side of a grocery establishment in Manteca following World War II, and he worked his way to the vice president role of grocery stores in Fairfield and Stockton.
Associated with the Vic’s on South Land Park Drive was the Vic’s Market Bakery, and a Chinese takeout, which was a carry over from the Jumbo Market at the same location.
And well known at the bakery was baker Charlie Wong’s coffee toffee crunch cake, which was topped with coffee-flavored whipped cream.
The DeStefani era of Vic’s IGA Market on South Land Park Drive ended in October 2007, when the store was sold to Jay Saini, who was making his first venture in the grocery vending world.
With the 2007 sale of that store, Vic then-owned only one store – the aforementioned Vic’s IGA Market in Folsom. That location of Vic’s was replaced by Boom Supermarket, which operated at that site from April to December 2014.
The closure of the South Land Park Vic’s store, which began operating under new ownership in 2013, will obviously leave a void in the South Hills Shopping Center.
Macaluso said that there is presently no plan for what business would fill the vacancy at the old supermarket site.
Source: Valley Community Newspapers, Inc. http://www.valcomnews.com/?p=16586