by Terrie Ellerbee/editor-Midwest, Southwest
Albertsons on Broadway opened its doors 79 years to the day that Joe Albertson opened his first cutting-edge, innovative store just a few miles down the road at 16th and State streets. In his obituary in 1993, the amenities in that first store were described as “unheard of in markets of the day, including a scratch bakery, one of the first magazine racks in the country and ‘Big Joe’s’ homemade ice cream cones.”
The first store no longer stands but a testament to the man who opened that cutting-edge market does. John Colgrove, president of Albertsons Cos.’ Intermountain Division, drives past a monument to Joe Albertson every day on his way home.
“On that very same day—July 21—79 years later to the day, we have opened up a new chapter at Albertsons. It makes me so proud to be with the company for 41 years and to a part of that celebration,” Colgrove told The Shelby Report. “That is so sacred to us.”
One has to wonder what Mr. Albertson might think of the new store at 1219 South Broadway Avenue in Boise. Albertsons on Broadway is just as cutting-edge as Mr. Albertson’s first store was in its day.
“When we designed this store, we really did it to attract shoppers who were looking for something different that we can provide for them, yet what was most important was to make sure that we also provide them the items that they would buy every day. So, I like to call this store a foodies’ getaway,” he said.
The goal is for customers to experience a personalized shopping experience. He said the aim was to have trained associates who would attend to the customers when they walk in and to help them find the items they need.
“Instead of just having all these items out there and then having the customers hunt for it, it meant really having the trained staff to help them find those items and help them with meal pairing and different things like that,” Colgrove said.
In order for that to work, the right people had to be hired. Albertsons looked for people who had been in retail grocery and/or the restaurant business. Colgrove let The Shelby Report in on the secret question that really clinched whether an applicant would be hired.
“We asked them to tell us a story about one of their favorite customers—and then we would ask them if they knew that customer’s name,” he said. “If they knew that customer’s name, then we knew they were somebody who truly believes in giving great customer service.”
Albertsons also is testing out offerings with the new Broadway store. One is My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream sold in bulk.
“It’s doing so well,” Colgrove said. “As we see how items sell, we will evaluate them and put them in other stores throughout the division where they would make sense.”
The store has elements of other Albertsons banners, like Market Street in Texas, Pavilions in California and Haggen in the Northwest. They were scouted for ideas along with the stores of other operators who compete with Albertsons.
“We were really looking for ideas that we could bring here to Boise that had the ‘surprise and delight’ element,” he said.
The store offers an “Eat Life Up” invitation for shoppers, especially those looking for culinary experiences. An executive chef does all of the meal planning for the store. There are traditional items (Colgrove’s favorite still is “Joe Albertson’s famous fried chicken”), but there could be something different in the chef-inspired foodservice offerings every day.
Albertsons on Broadway also offers a concierge service. Shoppers can plan their weddings, parties and other special events at no cost. The concierge service includes catering, floral arrangements, baked goods (like wedding cakes) and beer and wine. There is a Gift area in the new store, which, as the name suggests, offers items appropriate for party hosts, holiday events and more.
A similar store is planned for Meridian.
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See more pictures of the store here:
The place to be in Boise
Colgrove said Boise is beautiful, the community is thriving and business is booming.
“People are moving in from all over the country and that was another one of the reasons that we were inspired to build this store,” he said.
At the grand opening of Albertsons on Broadway, the ribbon cutting featured the Boise State Blue Thunder Marching Band, Spirit Squad and Buster Bronco, the mascot for Boise State University. Albertsons Stadium at Boise State University is about 500 yards away from the new market. Shoppers will have a terrific view of it from the full-service bar, Broadway on the Rocks, on the second floor of the new store. They also will be able to hear what is going on. Three garage-type doors open to unveil a balcony outside.
“The whole upstairs bar is glass, so you can look at the foothills around the Treasure Valley as well as see Albertsons Stadium at Boise State University,” Colgrove said. “Here’s the best part: If you are in the bar area with the garage doors rolled up, it’s so close that you’ll hear the roar of the crowd.”
Shoppers can order from a menu or buy anything they want in the store and dine upstairs in the bar, which has local beers on tap. There are big-screen TVs in the bar area and on the balcony. Below the bar and behind the Starbucks, there is a large outdoor patio.
“It would probably seat 100 people in a very relaxed, comfortable environment,” Colgrove said. “We have live entertainment in the bar as well. It’s absolutely the place to be. Hardly ever will you find an empty table.”
Colgrove could talk all day about the store, but what makes him most proud of the new market is the staff.
“It is the employees in the store and all of the hard work that the team put in to build the store and now to manage the store,” he said. “Between the store’s staff, the office staff, our suppliers—everyone working together to bring this store to fruition—is what makes me the most proud of this store.”