By Helena Rodriguez
When Super Save grocery store opens in the former IGA location at 7 a.m. on Friday, customers will see many familiar faces along with an expanded Mexican food section featuring imported and exported products.
The former IGA has been closed for 35 days during a change of ownership. Russell Inc. of Cimarron has purchased the grocery store at the corner of West 18th St. and Ave. D. from Troy Hinton.
The new store director, Tim Russell, said all employees from the former IGA were offered jobs with Super Save, with most accepting positions at the same rate of pay. Ray Paiz and Alan Hinton will serve as assistant managers, along with Richard Bradfute, who has been in the grocery business at that same location for 30 years, when it began as a Safeway. Bradfute said he has been at the store through five different changes of ownership at the store.
Russell said a few extra employees have also been hired. He expects the store to hire between 50-65 workers total, but said he won’t know until the store gets up and running exactly how many positions will be fulltime.
Noticeably absent from Super Save is the liquor section. Russell said he is not at liberty to say what will become of that liquor license but said he believes it will be purchased by another individual in town.
After being closed for more than a month, Russell said residents in the south area of Portales will be glad to have the store open again.
“I’ve had a lot of people coming in and expressing eagerness for us to get open soon,” Russell said. “I think Portales can support three grocery stores, without a doubt.”
Russell said Super Save chose to expand the Mexican food section because of expanded trade as well as an increase in U.S. food companies tapping into the Mexican food market. In recent years, major food companies such as Bueno have began mass producing their versions of popular Mexican cuisine that until recent years was only found in Mexico. The expanded section will include Mexican drinks such as orchata, Mexico candy, mole and more varieties of chile.
Bradfute said of the new Mexican food section, “I’m really impressed with it. It has a variety of food products I’ve never seen before.”
Aside from the expanded section, Russell said, “The shelves are jam-packed. We’re still waiting on a few things to come in like refrigerators, cases and fixtures, so we won’t be at 100 percent … until we have our official grand opening in about three weeks.
“Customers will definitely see more employees in the store, too,” he added.
Aside from the liquor section, Super Save will offer the same services IGA did. The store will have a deli, a flower shop and a service desk where people can pay utilities and get Western Union service. Walter Chambliss will continue to operate the store pharmacy and Russell said the bakery section, which will also be open, will be expanded soon. He said the store will continue to deliver on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Although the store has changed ownerships on average of every 5-6 years, Bradfute believes Super Save is in an ideal location.
“We’re still the only location on this side of town,” Bradfute said, “and we are the largest solely grocery store in town.”
As for Russell, he said, “Our prices will be competitive with Wal-Mart and La Tienda.”
In addition to the three assistant managers, Brian Martin will return as the meat market manager and Adam Pacheco will continue to manage produce.
Super Save will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.