Save Mart Supermarkets opens a FoodMaxx warehouse grocery outlet today at its 1300 W. Olive Ave. location.
Besides the conversion of the traditional supermarket to one of the Modesto-based company's discount warehouse stores, Save Mart also will close its outlet at 1136 W. Main St.
The decision to convert one store to a FoodMaxx and close another was made because both locations were struggling, officials have said. The company continues to operate its Save Mart at 150 W. Olive Ave.
While the site on Olive Avenue will be swapped out for a FoodMaxx, those who frequented the Main Street location will have to find another grocery outlet.
Many South Merced residents have expressed concerns over not having access to grocery stores in their neighborhoods, and removing the site from Main Street could further limit their options.
City officials have also said they're worried about any loss of jobs and wages the Save Mart consolidation in Merced would have on the struggling economy with unemployment pushing 18 percent.
While saying it would work to minimize layoffs, the company acknowledged it has been assessing a lot of different stores to try to make them more profitable and ensure they are a good fit for the neighborhoods they serve.
Save Mart officials hope that the new the warehouse shopping environment, coupled with heavily discounted prices, at the new FoodMaxx will be popular with Merced shoppers.
The store features new paint, signs and shelving; easy in-and-out access; and self-checkout or traditional checkout. The pharmacy, which moved to the front of the store and was open during the conversion, will remain.
The grand opening takes place at 8 a.m. today, with the ribbon-cutting at 8:45 a.m. Refreshments will be served, and customers can meet the new store manager, Don Williams. FoodMaxx will present a $1,000 check to the Boys & Girls Club of Merced to celebrate the opening.
On Saturday, a "Family Fun Day" is scheduled at the store from 1 to 4 p.m. There will be free hot dogs for the first 300 shoppers, a bounce house for kids, free ice cream cones, in-store product samplings and more. Save Mart's giant shopping cart, Big Red, will also make an appearance.
Save Mart Supermarkets operates 226 stores throughout Northern California and Northern Nevada under the Save Mart, S-Mart Foods, Lucky, Maxx Value Foods and FoodMaxx banners.
The privately held company was founded Jan. 17, 1952, and has always been headquartered in Modesto.