Monday, September 17, 2012

Alphabetical "Marts" Continue With Opening of G-MART

G-MART International Foods will soon open in the former Mercado Del Pueblo on Buford Highway at Northeast Plaza.  The nearly 56,000 square-foot grocery space was built for Publix in the mid 90s
(replacing a JC Penney Outlet ) but closed around 2005 and became Mercado Del Pueblo, a grocery store specializing in Hispanic foods, about a year later.  Mercado Del Pueblo closed late last year and the space has been vacant since then.

Over the years, Mercado Del Puebo had smaller locations in Atlanta, one on Buford Highway in Doraville and another in Tucker Square in Tucker.  The Buford Highway location remains closed  and vacant while the Tucker location, a former Wayfield Foods, is currently being redeveloped, along with the entire center, to make way for a new Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Mercado Del Pueblo's narrow focus on Latin/Hispanic foods may have been its achilles heel.  The former Publix at Northeast Plaza was likely too large. Perhaps they would have done better in a smaller space, like the Wayfield space. 

Interestingly, Publix closed their Northeast Plaza store about the same time they were testing their Latin oriented Publix Sabor stores in Florida.  Publix Sabor is geared towards Hispanic consumers and has seven locations throughout Florida. 

Buford Highway is already home to a number of markets including one in Plaza Fiesta in a former Winn-Dixie and another, the Buford Highway Farmers Market, just outside the perimeter.  The Buford Highway Farmers Market is the larger of the two and its weekly cooking classes are a draw on weeknights.  

G-MART is clearly an attempt at replicating the success of Super H Mart, a Lyndhurst, New Jersey-based chain of international food stores. Super H Mart has five metro area locations in Doraville, Duluth, Riverdale, Suwanee and Johns Creek.  H Mart entered the Atlanta market around 2007 and Duluth is still home to one of its largest locations.  Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, H Mart has a total of 41 locations in thirteen states.  With its five locations, Georgia is the grocer's third largest market behind New Jersey and New York, each with six. 

Though known to many as a purveyor of "international foods" H Mart's primary focus is on Korean and other Asian items.  Like Publix Sabor where signage is in both English and Spanish, it's rare to find an H Mart without signage in at least two (Korean and English) languages, if not more. 

Not surprisingly, G-MART is following H Mart growth strategy as well.  H Mart's Johns Creek and Suwanee locations are former chain grocery stores.  H Mart Johns Creek was built as a Harris Teeter, which after its closure, was for a time a Kroger.  In Suwanee, H Mart opened in a relatively new, but evidently unsuccessful, Ingles. 

In order for G-MART to thrive it will need to cater to the many ethnicities of the Buford Highway area, especially Hispanics, but also prevent too narrow of a focus which may alienate one group. 

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good news for NE Plaza. I believe this company is actually based out of NC.