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By Roz Rogoff

Nob Hill Makeover

Uploaded: Jul 26, 2012

Hum, is it a coincidence that Raley's Nob Hill Market in the Marketplace Shopping Center is getting a makeover just when the Wal-Mart banner ad recruiting new employees appeared at the top of the Express Home Page?

I wondered about the "threat" a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market would pose to Nob Hill and other supermarkets in San Ramon. In fact I asked one of the managers when the news about Wal-Mart taking over the old Ralphs building first hit the news if she thought this would hurt their business. She smiled and said, in an upbeat tone (she wanted me to be sure to say she was very upbeat) that the new Wal-Mart Market is too far away for their customers to shop there.

I'm half-way between the two stores. I used to shop at the Ralphs when it was there, so it isn't too far away from me, but I won't shop at a Wal-Mart. I like the Nob Hill so I shall continue to shop there.

Nob Hill's prices and quality are positioned somewhere between Whole Foods and Target and it is close enough to those stores to be affected by them. My guess is Target's expansion of its fresh grocery section has hurt Nob Hill. I asked the manager if the store might close. She was still very upbeat and said, "No, Raley's would never give up this good location."

I hope so because I like that store. I shopped at the old Nob Hill location on Montevideo before they opened their new store in the Market Place over ten years ago. The new store was very nice back then, but it does need remodeling now. Some isles were moved around with a new Pet Food isle in the main part of the store and bottled water, fruit juices, soft drinks, and paper products moved to where the pet section used to be.

I wanted to buy Bench and Field cat food, but Raley's isn't stocking it anymore. I was told that they are discontinuing some items to make room for new items. The front of the store is lined with supermarket carts full discontinued items reduced for fast sale. It's discouraging to see how much overstocked items they still have left, but you can get some real bargains now. I bought a store brand bottle of Ibuprofen for $2, which in the Advil brand would cost about $6.

It will take me a little while getting used to the new layout, but I still like the smaller size of the Nob Hill over the supersized Safeway and Luckys. I occasionally buy groceries in Target, but only if I'm there for something else. Target's produce is better than I expected. I suppose their prices will be competitive with the new Wal-Mart.

I also occasionally shop in the Whole Foods, which is almost always very crowded. I have to say the produce at Nob Hill is as good as what I've found in Whole Foods and even as good as or better than the Farmer's Markets at much better prices.

Nob Hill also offers a lot of promotions and coupons with a free product on weekends with a purchase of $20 or more. The free products are usually one of their brands that would sell for around $3. I'm a sucker for the free products and print out the weekend coupons from my PC. Occasionally I buy things I don't need because of the coupons. My freezer and pantry are full of products I'm probably never going to use.

I recommend everyone in the vicinity of the Marketplace to check out the remodeled Nob Hill market. I don't want to see that store killed or vacated. As the Manager I spoke to said, as long as customers keep shopping there, the store will be fine.

Of course no matter how upbeat the Manager is the store couldn't stay open if all of the customers leave in droves for cheaper markets like Target and Wal-Mart or more snobby ones like Whole Foods. It's a nice little market. Help keep it there.