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Gelson’s Debuts First Store In 12 Years In Long Beach

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Long Beach, Calif., residents have a new shopping option, and they’re excited.

A new Gelson’s Markets opened its doors Thursday. The first customer in the door had waited in line since before 3 a.m. The line to get in included hundreds by opening time.

“This is our first new store in 12 years and we’re very excited about some of the special features,” Donna Tyndall, SVP of store operations, told The Shelby Report during the grand opening. “We hope that the city of Long Beach appreciates what we have to offer.”

Gelson’s President Rob McDougall told The Shelby Report that the Long Beach store, located at 6255 E. 2nd St. along the Pacific Coast Highway, is special for a number of reasons. He said Gelson’s tends to do well around beach cities and towns and noted that “we put a lot of thought about what area we wanted to go in.”

He stressed the importance of the old adage, “location location location.”

“What we especially like about this area is the marina right across the street,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of traffic down PCH and 2nd Street. I believe PCH is 67,000 cars a day for visual of our store.”

Gelson’s Long Beach was a former Albertsons store, and Encino, Calif.-based Gelson’s began the process of coming into Long Beach about two years ago. It signed the lease for the Long Beach location in March.

“We designed a store that we really think meets the needs of this community,” McDougall said. “And it also represents the go-forward vision of Gelson’s. You’ll see as you walk through the store many new concepts…”

One of those new concepts is an expansive Gateway Wine Bar. Led by Ray Candelaria, the bar features a state-of-the art wine dispenser.

“It holds eight types of wines,” Candelaria told The Shelby Report. “It keeps the temperature at a perfect temperature, between reds and whites. It also dispenses the perfect amount of ounces for your glass, but the main reason for it is it seals in the bottle to ensure that we get the best product out every time we dispense. We want the best product possible for our customers.”

Additionally, the bar boasts a food menu that features tapas, small appetizers, finger foods and, the store’s signature dish, the lobster roll. The bar, of course, also includes four varieties of draft beers.

“The food here is amazing,” Candelaria said. “We have some excellent cheese plates. What we also do is pair up our menu with the wines that we have on hand that we’re serving.”

The Wine Bar currently is open seven days a week, from noon-8 p.m.

“If we see that it needs to be open earlier or later then we’ll adjust that,” Candelaria sad. “No matter the case, we will have different wines and we’ll have all types of wines. It will change seasonally.”

While the Wine Bar offers a seating area, the store also provides additional seating/lounge areas, including an upstairs outdoor patio overlooking the marina across the street.

McDougall says Gelson’s aims to connect with its customers outside of simply coming in the store, shopping and leaving.

The store will host free wine tastings each Friday, and McDougall said the upstairs patio area has growth potential and may include a Wine Bar at some point to accompany the bar on the store’s lower level.

The Long Beach Gelson’s store also boasts a large beer and wine department, featuring wines that range from $5.99 upward to $1,000 a bottle as well as a selection of craft beers.

“We can meet everyone’s needs,” McDougall said. “We see this going forward in our (new) model stores.”

Robert Delgado, director of liquor buying and merchandising for Gelson’s, added, “We hope people recognize us as the place to come when looking for something special.”

The Gelson’s store has more than 100 parking spaces, as well as nearby additional parking.

Gelson’s ‘go-forward’ strategy

McDougall says Gelson’s has become more selective since opening its last store in 2001.

“I’ve been president for two years and I’ve closed two stores, and the idea was to close our underperforming stores,” he said. “We’ve done that. Those were open in 1999 and 2001. We have what I see as a new vision now, and we have a new go-forward strategy. We have a new team as I’ve come into place.

Gelson’s currently operates more than dozen locations in Southern California.

“I have no doubt we’ll do well in Long Beach and we’re ready to go,” he continued.

In fact, Gelson’s already has plans to open its next store. It has singed a lease for a location in La Canada Flintridge and is expected to open there in the first quarter of 2014.

“I’m looking at sites all the time,” said McDougall.

In the meantime, he’s relishing in the success of the Long Beach store’s opening.

“I’ll be honest with you,” he told The Shelby Report. “It’s nice to be on this side of the coin—when I have a Ralphs store right down the street, a Whole Foods down the street, a Trader Joe’s across the street, a Vons Pavilion right there and a Bristol’s not too far away. And we’re the ones causing a little havoc in their world, instead of the other way around. We like that.

“As long as we keep our service up. I think we have a win; but on top of that we have the quality,” he added. “We did a study of all the competitors out here and it was easy to see. If we focus on service deli and we focus on wine and we focus on produce we’re going to beat all the competitors around here.”

Find photos from the Gelson’s grand opening in Long Beach here and go here to learn more about the new store.

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