December 5, 2021

Acqua NYC

Fit And Go Forward

Raley’s tries new store concept in Truckee

It’s more than a typical grocery store. Two floors with dining options, craft beer tastings, patios and fireplaces, and an exterior resembling a ski lodge. Inside, specially curated products are tucked throughout, and a team of nutrition advisers can help be your guide.

After a spate of openings including a replacement for its flagship store on Freeport Boulevard in Land Park and Rancho Murierta’s first full-service grocery store, Raley’s took a decidedly different approach to its newest store in Truckee late last month. Called Raley’s O-N-E Market, it could represent a future path for the 85-year-old West Sacramento-based chain: A supermarket geared toward nutrition, wellness and community.

This O-N-E Market isn’t Raley’s first effort to promote healthier choices for customers. The company has incorporated shelf health guides and removed conventional candy from its checkout aisles, among other companywide initiatives. And in 2018, Raley’s unveiled a new specialty health market: Market 5-ONE-5 in downtown Sacramento.

The new Tahoe store, the chain’s 129th, is a cross between a conventional Raley’s location and 5-ONE-5. Company spokeswoman Chelsea Minor said it’s Raley’s “way of taking what we learned at Market 5-ONE-5 and putting it into a conventional model.”

No plans are yet in place for additional O-N-E markets, Minor said.

Raley’s O-N-E aims to foster a vision of health and wellness while maintaining the core Raley’s brand.

“Companies that have lasting legacies, they have a purpose,” Minor said. “And Raley’s is seeking to do just that, by changing the way the world eats ‘one plate at a time.’”

When Market 5-ONE-5 opened, it was meant to be a standalone location with its own supply chain. Though the location was backed by Raley’s, the location ditched the bounds of a typical grocery store, cutting typical floor space in half and utilizing its own suppliers.

“One of the realizations that we’ve come to is that we really need to be thoughtful in the way that we bring our customers along with us,” Minor told The Sacramento Bee.

Minor said the new concept isn’t aimed at competing with stores already positioned in the organic, sustainability or nutrition segment of the market.

“I would say, our strategy is focused on education, transparency and expanding our offerings to ‘better for you products,’” she said.

Curated products, customer education

If you’re looking for foods with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or synthetic benzyl alcohol, the O-N-E Market is probably not your store.

Store officials say items on every shelf have been carefully selected to exclude ingredients on the market’s 100-plus banned ingredient list.

Customers searching for products like Cheetos, Doritos or Diet Coke won’t find them. Instead, they have access to similar options free of artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives and flavors.

“We’re doing the homework for them when it comes to an ingredient list,” nutrition strategist Yvette Waters said.

Waters acknowledged that with such a curated assortment of ingredients and products, there “definitely needed to be education involved.”

Customers who join the store’s new, free Something Extra Health loyalty program have exclusive access to a nutrition adviser and registered dietitian Scott Brown.

Brown leads classes, store tours and provides recommendations for customers. Customers facing diet changes and restrictions or seeking to turn over a new leaf can work individually with Brown.

And when Brown isn’t at work, two wellness ambassadors with educational backgrounds and interest in nutrition step in to fill his place.

Waters stressed that while the O-N-E Market’s products are carefully curated, Brown will help customers navigate a plethora of nutritional information they might not understand.

“We all have mini-computers at our fingertips at all times, and the nutrition information out there is a lot. So now it’s not about getting the information available, just ciphering through the vast amount,” Waters said.

Robert Reynolds, a retired grocery analyst formerly with Reynolds Economics, predicted that the expanded services and limited product selection would result in higher prices at the new market. But he said Truckee, with its “eclectic collection of people,” is a good location for this approach.

“They have a lot of seasonal vacation-oriented people who are in that community, and people who are in a vacation mode tend to spend more money,” he said.

Minor said Raley’s considered Truckee’s tourist economy in making the decision to expand there.

“At the core of our strategy, we believe that Truckee, a community that supports an active, healthy and balanced lifestyle, is the perfect place to launch Raley’s O-N-E Market,” Minor said via email.

But she insisted that store prices are affordable and “comparable to other locations.”

“We believe that access to healthy, nutritious food is a right – not a luxury, and we’re committed to pricing our products fairly,” Minor said.

More than just a place to shop

An in-store nutritionist isn’t the only new wrinkle for Raley’s. The 35,000-square-foot building itself was constructed to resemble a ski lodge, with a patio for each of the two levels and outdoor seating surrounding multiple fireplaces.

On the first floor is a cafe serving specialty toasts, organic juices, wellness shots and smoothie bowls.

On the second, customers can curl up by a fire and sample craft brews, curated wines and bar bites; or if they’re feeling hungry for restaurant options, hearth-baked pizza and sushi.

From the second floor, “you can see the beauty of the produce area, lots and lots of colors. You’re right over the food service area, and there’s a lot of excitement happening under there,” Waters said.

And officials said the commitment to sustainability doesn’t end with food. The building itself features high-efficiency LED lighting, motion sensors for refrigeration units, a reflective “cool roof,” 210 solar panels and a digester that converts organic waste into biogas.

The pine trees cleared for the site were used to build parts of the store as well, including 10,000 square feet of ceiling paneling. The wood was also used to craft both Waters’ and Minor’s favorite part of the store: The McKinney Loft.

The space is dedicated to hall of fame ski legend and Truckee local Steve McKinney, a downhill specialist and pioneer in the sport of extreme skiing, who was also the first man to hang glide off of Mount Everest.

The loft features an acrylic painting of McKinney speed-skiing by local artist Jeff Meyers. “It’s really, really spectacular,” Minor said.

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