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Chains Popular with Hispanic Shoppers Expand in El Paso

West Texas Profile, The Shelby Report of the Southwest

Last updated on August 16th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

[gn_note color=”#ff3333″] The 2012 On the Border Market Profile originally ran in the July 2012 edition of The Shelby Report of the Southwest. The profile will be published on theshelbyreport.com one month after it has run in print.[/gn_note]

by Terrie Ellerbee/associate editor

El Paso’s appeal to Hispanic grocery chains is self-evident. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 82.2 percent of El Paso’s 800,000-plus population is Hispanic. The average family size is 3.76 people, putting the city at No. 5 in U.S. metropolitan areas. Existing home sales have grown nearly 5 percent in El Paso vs. last year, and sales of new homes in the first four months of the year have grown 7.6 percent. The El Paso Times reports that 849 new homes were sold January-April this year, an ­increase of 60 over the same period a year ago. All of these statistics make for an attractive retail grocery market. Two chains operating stores that appeal to the Hispanic shopper are growing in El Paso: Vista Markets and Pro’s Ranch Market.

Vista Markets serves El Paso community

Vista Markets/Vista Quality Markets stores “are built to suit the tastes and preferences of the El Paso demographic,” said Mike Pina, who operates the five-store chain along with two brothers. They started the company in the early 1990s with no experience in the ­industry, Pina told The Shelby Report.

“We really learned as we went, taking as much knowledge from our peers as we could and making connections in the industry,” he said. “We have maintained an open mind as far as the direction of the growth of the stores, and are always open to change/adapt in order to satisfy our customers’ evolving tastes and needs.”

There are five Vista Market stores averaging 40,000 s.f. Their banners include Vista Quality Market in El Paso on Doniphan Drive, Montana Vista Mercado on Montana Avenue and Vista Central Market on Zaragoza Road, all in El Paso; Vista Quality Market on Alameda Avenue in Socorro; and Horizon Vista Market Place on North Kenazo Avenue in Horizon City.

The company remodels its ­locations to keep the upscale Hispanic market pleased. Pina said service sets Vista Markets apart as well.

“The service our employees provide in our perishables departments—the Meat Market, hot and cold delis, Aguas Frescas, bakery, specialty cakes, tortilleria—is what makes us different from other grocery stores, and makes us proud of our stores,” he said.

To keep employees focused on the customer, the chain is always seeking fresh products and services. Vista Market focuses on perishables to differentiate ­itself from Walmart and other competitors.

“Our goal is to keep up with the trends and tastes of our customers,” Pina said. “We continue to strive to provide quality customer service in our full-service meat market and tortilleria. We also are expanding the produce and prepared foods areas within the stores to cater to the increasing number of families opting to eat prepared meals at home instead of eating out due to being short on time or the current strain on the economy.

“And we are always looking for unique products/services that Walmart doesn’t offer,” Pina said. “Along with providing full-service grocery stores, we take pride in also preparing savory fresh baked goods and ready-to-eat delectable dishes made daily.”

Vista’s food stores also maintain a variety of cold deli fresh sandwiches, salads, cut fruit and Aguas Frescas (fresh fruit drinks).

Growing the Vista Market brand is both an opportunity and a ­challenge, Pina said.

Four supermarkets have opened in El Paso recently, including a Pro’s Ranch Market on May 2, and a 42,000-s.f. Walmart Neighborhood Market store that opened on May 25. Pina called the market over-stored and said Vista Markets will continue to compete with its service, perishables and unique offerings.

Pro’s Ranch opens El Paso No. 2

Pro’s Ranch Markets opened its second El Paso store on May 2 at 10501 Gateway Blvd. West, and hired 300 local applicants to run it.

Pro’s Ranch Market is an upscale concept that offers popular Hispanic products and features fresh perishables.

“We are grateful to the City of El Paso and the civic and neighborhood leaders for opening their doors to embrace our family business,” a company news release states. The Provenzano family, led by CEO Mike, said in the release that they have been “embraced by the neighborhood and the community,” and look to continue the strong relationships it has developed with customers.

Provenzano bought his first store in 1982 in Southern California. In 1992, he partnered with his son, Michael, to create a Hispanic store concept to accommodate changing demographics. The pair traveled the country seeking ways to give shoppers variety and fresh, authentic foods in a warm, upscale environment. Thus, “The Ranch” was born.

In 2002, the Provenzano family took Pro’s Ranch Markets stores to Phoenix, and now has seven stores in Arizona.

Then in 2007, the company opened its first Texas store in El Paso. That store is located at 703 N. Zaragoza Rd. in the Lower Valley. It also features a Ranchie Fuel gas station.

Pro’s Ranch Markets also expanded into New Mexico, opening stores in Albuquerque in 2008 and Las Cruces in 2011.

With headquarters in Ontario, Calif., and a regional office in Phoenix, the company operates 11 stores.

“My family puts their heart and soul into these stores,” Provenzano said. “We are proud of the communities we are in and want to give back to the neighborhoods that we work with.”

The newest El Paso store features a bakery with authentic Mexican bread and made-to-order cakes, a Cocina (hot foods) and a homemade Tortilla Factory that will make hot bread and more than 100,000 piping hot homemade tortillas throughout the day.

“The smell of fresh baked bread will greet you at the door,” Provenzano said. “We will be ­making fresh stone ground tortillas every day. We are committed to the quality of our produce, scratch baked goods and hot foods that we offer in all of our stores.”

The Cocina will provide home cooking and the meat market will prepare carne asada for barbecues as well as hand cut customer orders.

Other services and products in The Pro’s Ranch Markets store include Aguas Frescas made daily, a fresh fruit bar for grab-and-go ­refreshments; an innovative Coffee Station, an expanded Cremeria with homemade sausages; a large produce department with fresh fruit and vegetables delivered daily; a taco bar; and seafood, as well as the largest variety of fish “of any store in El Paso,” a company press release states.

The new store also offers a check-cashing service booth.

San Antonio-based H-E-B, which currently has no stores in El Paso, operates more than three dozen stores in Mexico that employ 7,000 people. It entered the country in 1997 with a store in Monterrey, and has surpassed $1 billion in ­annual sales in Mexico.

Howard E. Butt III is director of the H-E-B Mexico Division. The grocery company said in January that it planned to open five stores in Northern Mexico, which Butt said would raise the store count there to 44.

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