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Posted: July 07, 2010

Grocery showdown: SmartCo Foods

It's like Costco meets King Soopers

Randi Abels

SmartCo Foods, a new grocery store concept designed by its California parent specifically for Colorado, opened its first store in late June -- the same day Sunflower Farmer's Market opened its 10th store in Colorado. SmartCo Foods brings a new twist to the existing market, and people wanted to see what it was all about.

The store opened at 6 a.m. with a crowd of around 450 people waiting. The first people in line had arrived around midnight the night before, waiting to get the free groceries promised to the first customers.

I arrived at the store around 11 a.m. and couldn't find a parking space. Once I found a spot, I made my way into the 57,000-square-foot store. There was little walking room because space was taken up by shopping carts, busy shoppers and lots of staff.

I immediately felt like I was in a Costco-grocery store hybrid. Produce took up one corner of the store, with warehouse products at the opposite end. Every aisle was full of different items, and I felt overwhelmed by all the choices.

The most interesting part of this store was how bulk items were mixed in with regular buys. Next to a wheel of cheese normally found in a grocery store was a wheel almost triple the size - for parties of business events, said Randall Oliver, spokesman for the store.

Price tags also caught my eye, with lower numbers on them than I have seen at most stores. Value is definitely emphasized the most in SmartCo. Bananas were 33 cents a pound, and a whole chicken was 59 cents a pound. And these were not just opening day prices.

The store featured a wall dedicated to value pricing, dubbed "the wall of value." The items featured there will change about every week, Oliver said. Next to the wall of value are the "mile high savings section" and the "truckloads of savings" area. Both feature larger items that will sell until supplies are exhausted, and then new items will replace them.

There are national and economy brands throughout the store, so each shopper can find what they are looking for.

"This store provides a one-stop shop for everything you need," Oliver said.

My recommendation on when to shop at SmartCo? Go if you need a store that combines Costco, King Soopers and a produce shop with a focus on low prices - and if you have some time. The store has a lot of great products, at good prices, but you can't just pop in and out.

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Randi Abels is a ColoradoBiz intern.

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Readers Respond

Sunflower is located at 8557 E Arapahoe Rd, and SmartCo Foods is located at 1442 S Parket Rd. By Randi on 2010 07 08
Hey Randy When you write an article about a store, you should include location information. Somewhere in the huge state of Colorado this store opened. Why mention Sunflower Market opened their 10th store on the same day when there is no reference to the store other than it opening on the same day? What was the point? You say Grocery Showdown- where's the showdown? Might as well, say, SmartCo opened it's store the same day at my Aunt Millie's birthday---who cares! By E on 2010 07 07
the store is in location where multiple businesses have failed - I wonder if their choice of location, based on getting a low rent, I imagine, might end up being a bad choice! By steve krausz on 2010 07 07
Too bad the location of the store was not mentioned. By Junkyard on 2010 07 07

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