A beloved California supermarket that has been a community staple for over 40 years is closing as newer supermarkets like Whole Foods and Trader Joes move into the neighborhood.
The Lucky supermarket in Larkspur, California, will be closing its doors for good on April 14 following speculation its parent company, Save Mart Supermarkets, elected not to renew the location’s lease.
Located north of downtown San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, the Larkspur Lucky market has been the neighborhood’s stalwart budget grocery option since it opened in 1982.
Though numerous Lucky’s remain open across California, the closing of the Larkspur store will leave residents bereft of easily accessible budget options.
Instead, local shoppers will be left with newer options like the two nearby Trader Joes and three Whole Foods Markets – all of which are located within a five-mile radius of the local store.
The Lucky supermarket in Larkspur was opened in 1982 and has operated ever since
After the store’s closing was announced, faithful shoppers took to the neighborhood-focused social media website Nextdoor to express their dismay at the closing.
‘Lucky has the best cashier team ever,’ wrote Aubrey Wade, adding they had shopped at the store for 20 years. ‘They’re the least overpriced store for groceries in Marin – they even had toilet paper during the pandemic!’
About a quarter of Larkspur’s population are senior citizens, according to The San Francisco Standard, and the loss of Lucky leaves them without the supermarket they’ve depended on for affordable groceries. Last year, the market closed its neighboring pharmacy, which left some senior citizens in dismay.
‘I am a disabled senior,’ wrote one user on Nexdoor after the pharmacy closed. ‘I don’t have a car… I walk to that pharmacy and grocery store… I am a GOOD walker… but there is no way I can walk to Walgreens.’
‘Now I am going to have to walk to Safeway… I have done it… it takes me over 2 hrs.’
Lucky supermarket told The San Francisco Chronicle that it would ‘remain committed to serving the community’ at its nearest store in Novato. That store is 15 miles and a 25-minute drive from the Larkspur location.
A Trader Joes located a mile-and-a-half east of the Lucky supermarket closing in Larkspur
One of the three Whole Foods Markets located within a five-mile radius of the Lucky market
The corner where the Larkspur Lucky sits has experienced redevelopment in recent years, according to The San Francisco Chronicle, but Mayor Gabe Paulson said he didn’t know of any plans to for a store like Whole Foods or Trader Joes. He added that he wouldn’t have much power to stop it if there were.
‘The City of Larkspur does not have the authority to cause a particular store to take over the site,’ Paulson said.
Lucky’s building in Larkspur and part of its parking lot is owned by Vons supermarket group, while two other entities own the rest of the retail strip and nearby gas station. Mayor Paulson said whatever store that moves in will be dependent on what those entities want.
‘Any redevelopment will probably require cooperation between the different ownership groups,’ he said.
The Lucky’s closing comes as the price of groceries has hardly recovered from the soaring inflation that rocked the United States last year.
Over the last two years, since February 2021, prices of food products such as cereals, meats, dairy and fruit have risen by an average of around 19 percent, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The price of eggs rose so much over the past year that Americans even began smuggling them across the US-Mexico border.
Wages, on the other hand, have risen by around 11 percent over the same period, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Wage Growth Tracker.
Although that change to hourly and annual salaries is a historically large increase, households have experienced reduced disposable income.
While federal stimulus packages increased the amount of cash in ordinary American households, the buying power of all that money was reduced by inflation.
A 51-year-old public-relations consultant in New York told the Journal that she had nostalgia for just last summer, when untoasted bagels at her local deli cost $1.60 instead of $1.95, and a can of soda was $1 instead of $1.25.
The nostalgia, however, is about more than price for her.
‘It’s emotional and it signifies something else, like, “Oh, my God, if this basic thing has gone up 50 percent, my whole life is going to unravel”,’ she told the Journal.