Lucky Stores, frequently referred to as just “Lucky’s” is an American grocery chain founded in Alameda County, California in 1935. Lucky is currently operated by Supervalu in Southern California and Nevada and by Save Mart in Northern California and Nevada.
Lucky Stores was founded by Charles Crouch as Peninsula Stores Limited in 1931 with the acquisition of Piggly Wiggly stores in Burlingame, San Mateo, Redwood City, Palo Alto and San Jose. By 1935, seven more stores had been added, including the company’s first stores in Berkeley and Oakland.
Its first flagship store opened in 1947 in San Leandro, California. It featured a coffee shop and other conveniences. Also known as “Lucky #50”, this store was managed for years by San Leandro native Anthony (Tony) Minniti. Mr. Minniti was known for his old-fashioned approach that emphasized customer service. Tony enjoyed having a personal rapport with many customers over the years, and maintained a highly profitable store during his tenure. After his retirement, the store’s customer base (and profitability) declined over time. It was the last Lucky Store to be re-branded after the takeover by Albertsons. Due to dwindling profits, it later closed in 2005.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Lucky Stores operated the Gemco department stores in California, Nevada, Phoenix, Tucson, and Houston and Memco in the Chicago and Washington, D.C. areas. In 1983 Lucky closed five Houston-area Gemco discount stores. The Memco stores in the Chicago metropolitan area were converted to Eagle Food Centers but subsequently closed. In 1972, Lucky stores has decided to branch out and acquired Hancock Fabrics.
In 1986, due to a hostile takeover bid by Asher Edelman, many Gemco stores were either sold to Dayton Hudson (now Target Corporation) or closed, while Hancock Fabrics was sold as a public company. Lucky also owned 22 May Drug stores (May Drugs) in IL, IA, & WI. A lot of them were next to Eagle food stores. They were also closed in the late 70’s. Lucky Stores operated 22 Houston-area Eagle Supermarkets until March 1985, when it was decided to exit the market altogether.
Twenty stores were sold to competitors and two were closed. Eagle Supermarkets had a 6 percent share of supermarket sales at that time in Houston one year earlier. That put it behind Kroger, Safeway, Randall’s Food Markets and Fiesta Mart, but ahead of Rice Food Markets and Gerland’s Food Fair.
By 1988, Lucky became a part of American Stores Company, along with Jewel, Jewel-Osco, Acme Markets, Alpha Beta, Food Basket, and Sav-On Drugs. The Alpha Beta stores in Northern California also became Lucky Stores. A number of Southern California branches were either sold or merged with Ralphs. Some Lucky Stores with combined food and drug changed their name to Lucky-Sav-On as part of the merger.
In 1998, Lucky’s parent company, American Stores, was taken over by Albertsons, and by 1999 the Lucky brand had disappeared completely. On January 23, 2006, Supervalu, CVS/pharmacy, and an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management announced they had agreed to acquire Albertsons for $17.4 billion. Existing Albertsons stores were divided between Supervalu and the Cerberus-led group; the Cerberus-acquired stores became Albertsons LLC, which then sold its northern California and northern Nevada stores to Save Mart.
In 2006, both Supervalu and Save Mart began re-branding some Albertsons locations as Lucky stores again, using the old logo. However, the same year, Grocery Outlet, an unrelated Northern California retailer, also began branding some of its stores as Lucky, claiming that Albertsons had given up rights to the Lucky trademark when it had retired the brand back in 1999. By January 2009 a federal judge ruled against Grocery Outlet, finding that Albertsons had continued to use the name Lucky even after the re-branding of its stores.
Supervalu successfully positioned Lucky as “‘true neighborhood stores,’ meaning they meet the unique needs of communities by providing the right products and assortment at the right price.”
In February 2009, Supervalu announced the closing 9 of its Albertsons’ Southern California locations. The Albertsons in South Gate will be converted into the Lucky Brand. An Albertsons in Van Nuys and Oxnard are also set to become Lucky stores. A New Lucky Store did open under the banner of SUPERVALU in Alhambra, CA, but was quickly closed as of February 2010.
Just as the name implies, Lucky brand grocery stores have been just that- from 1931 to 2011, they have taken lots of hits, but keep getting back up for more.
Headquarters: Modesto, CA
No. of Stores: 70 (2010)
No. of Employees: 5,000 + (2010)
Revenue: $5+ billion (2010)
Geography: There are 70 California stores under the Lucky banner; they are located throughout the Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties.
Special Services: Bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, meat, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor
Sunny Select, Sunnyside Farms, World Classics international foods, Paws pet care, Top Care health and beauty products, Full Circle Organics, Pacific Coast Café, Valu Time, Master Cut meats, Master Catch seafood, and Foxbrook and Piccinini Wines.