Learn more about how these two independently owned and operated markets have served our community since 1966.
If you’ve lived in or around the Central California coast, you’re probably familiar with El Rancho Marketplace in Solvang or its sister market California Fresh Market located in Pismo Beach. Most likely, you’ve also heard Greg King’s friendly, upbeat voice on the radio talking about their weekly specials.
A pillar of the community since 1966, El Rancho Marketplace was opened by Helmut Holzheu, whose vision was to create a local market offering fresh, fair priced products to his customers. Well, his vision paid off, and in 1987 Helmut’s son, Alfred, took the reins of his father’s business. Alfred continued to grow and develop the market – creating an inviting, comfortable place for shoppers to fill their carts with quality products.
In 2001, Greg King, was hired as the general manager and brought with him his talent for finding the right people for the right jobs – a talent that came in extremely handy when they decided to open a second location, California Fresh Market, in Pismo Beach where he currently serves as managing partner. “We opened for business in 2012 and, along with designing the store’s layout, one of my hardest challenges was hiring the best employees for each specific job,” said Greg. “I am so proud of the hard-working, talented people we employ and get great satisfaction by seeing them grow with the company.”
Keys to success in a competitive market
With a large supermarket chain on almost every corner, Greg knows the importance of separating his markets from the pack. “Producing fresh food from scratch has been a major key to our success,” said Greg. “Our top selling items cannot be purchased at chain stores – we produce them here from our own recipes. Our Executive Chef, Rusty Price, changes our menu offerings on a regular basis using a wide array of fantastic products. We also have a standard menu that remains extremely popular with our customers. We roast our own coffees, squeeze our own juices, bake fresh breads, make our own sausage, and smoke our own meats. All things that differentiate us from our competitors.”
Both market locations also take immense pride in their communities. “One of the most rewarding parts of our business is that it allows us to be actively involved in giving back to the people who keep us running,” said Greg. “Our customers are our neighbors. Seeing them return time after time with smiles on their faces and carts full of quality groceries is what drives us to be here for our community.”
Jordano’s – our partner in business and the community
Like Jordano’s CEO, Pete Jordano, Greg acknowledges the importance of giving back to the communities they serve. “We are a family owned business like Jordano’s,” said Greg. “I’m very thankful we have that in common. Being locally owned and operated allows us to really get to know our community. We both realize the importance of being a positive presence in our community. We are very involved in supporting our local schools, rotary and lions clubs, and numerous non-profit charities in our area.”
Being a partner in business and in the community, Jordano’s continues to help Greg out when he needs it the most. “We donate products to those less fortunate throughout the year with a major focus on giving back during the holiday season,” said Greg. “This past holiday season, Jordano’s partnered with us to give back to those in need. It’s so nice to work with a distributor who cares about their community as much as we do.”
What’s the best way to market markets? Well, the aforementioned radio spot is one of the many marketing outlets Greg uses to promote his business. “We advertise on Central Coast radio stations, promoting our fresh foods and weekly sales,” said Greg. “Our ‘Weekend Super Sales’ focus on specific core items at very aggressive pricing which gets people into our stores. Once customers are here, they are able to see all the amazing products we have to offer.”
Besides radio advertising, Greg has also experienced great success by placing newspaper advertisements and utilizing the power of social media. “Facebook is amazing. It’s allowed us to reach people in ways that weren’t even possible 10 years ago,” said Greg. “We are not a conventional grocery store and our customers have responded very positively to our advertising methods. Our customers get it.”
A bright future
Back in 2008, sales for El Rancho Marketplace were trending downward. At that point in time, Jordano’s Account Executive, Bob Weirum, met Greg, and the two began working together. “As we got to know each other, things just started to click for me,” said Greg. “As our relationship grew, so did our successes. Bob was and has continued to be a key player in the development and strategy behind our weekly advertising campaign efforts. When we were looking for ways to improve our advertising efforts, we collaborated on the idea to promote specific items at an aggressive price point on the front page of the insert. By the end of that year, our sales trend had turned positive and continues to grow exponentially to date. In fact, we’re now looking at opening two additional locations in mid-2016.”
“I believe business is all about relationships,” said Greg. “And our relationship with Jordano’s has been a very successful one. Working with Jordano’s truly feels ‘local’. Fresh food and quality products are the keys to our success, and Jordano’s is there with us every step of the way.”
Speaking of success, California Fresh Market and El Rancho Marketplace were just named ‘Retailer of the Year’ for their region by the Independent Grocers Association (IGA), and they’re currently nominated for ‘International Retailer of the Year’.
For more information about California Fresh Market and El Rancho Marketplace, visit californiafreshmarket.com or find them on Facebook.