99 Ranch expands outside of the Chinese community

  • Alhambra's 99 Ranch location complete with logos from its food court businesses. Photo courtesy of 99 Ranch.

  • 99 Ranch's expanded bakery. Photo by Mandy Lim.

  • 99 Ranch Alhambra's distinct look. Photo by Mandy Lim.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

Shoppers who visit the 99 Ranch Market on Main Street in Alhambra are impressed by its trendy interior design, diverse offerings and professional staff. This is especially true if they have been to other locations associated with the chain.

The store abandons the “price takes priority over presentation” philosophy of other Chinese supermarkets and presents the items in a very accessible way with clear English signs. It also offers more options than Chinese food products.

99 Ranch Market was established in 1984 with its first store in Westminster, Calif., popularly known as Little Saigon. It has become the largest Asian supermarket chain in the United States, with over 50 locations in California, Nevada, Texas, Washington State, New Jersey and Oregon.

Alhambra store marks a major change in strategy for 99 Ranch, said Ruoqi Liao, 99 Ranch’s marketing specialist. “It’s different from the locations in Monterey Park and San Gabriel, which mainly serve Chinese-speaking customers,” he said. The Alhambra store was designed to multiple ethnicities in the diverse San Gabriel Valley.

The Alhambra store is located where a Ralphs supermarket used to be. According to Liao, the brand’s founder, Roger Chen envisioned their stores to be a one-stop shop for all customers’ grocery needs.

Some details in the store testify to this effort. Subtle differences can be noticed in the selection of seafood and cuts of meat. Avocados are offered on a daily basis, which is absent in most other Chinese supermarkets. The cookie aisle has a lot of Asian brands such as Imei and Khong Guan, but there are also some great European cookies. The in-store bakery, with its wide selection of bread, cheese, dessert and products like jalapeno hot dogs, has also impressed non-Chinese speaking customers.

The presentation is also different. The rotisserie chicken and bento are placed right at the entrance of the store, which is different from its placement in the back corner of their San Gabriel store where hot food is served.

“Younger generation customers find the Alhambra store even more appealing, because they can find a mix of quality products manufactured both locally and globally,” Liao said.

Apart from the products, the overall customer experience at the Alhambra store surpasses other supermarkets. The parking lot is more spacious. The wider aisles make it easier for two shopping carts to pass each other and for customers to look for items in the aisles without getting in the way of other people. There is also more space in the vegetable and fruit section and the staff is professional, friendly and always ready to speak English.

At the two-year anniversary of the Alhambra store last June, 99 Ranch opened a new food court near the entrance inside the market. Taiwanese dry pot, boba tea and small-batch ramen are served at food court stands like Qiwei Kitchen, Half and Half Tea Express Boba Shop and Chibiscus Ramen.

“We’re opening the food court so that customers can have some choices if they do not want to cook for themselves that day or simply want to treat themselves to something different,” Liao said.

99 Ranch takes pride in serving customers both local and from abroad at their innovative Alhambra location. Liao shared that, even as a person of Asian heritage himself, he hasn’t seen some of the unique foods offered at the Alhambra store before in his life, such as Korean Chips, Indonesian Ramen and Philippine banana sauce.

Mandy Lim is an Alhambra Source community contributor. Interested in writing for us? Email phoenix@alhambrasource.org.

2 thoughts on “99 Ranch expands outside of the Chinese community”

  1. I used to shop weekly at this location when it was a Ralph’s store but have not been there since it became a 99 Ranch store. I would like to know whether a non-Asian person would feel comfortable shopping there, based on how one is typically made to feel uncomfortable when eating in local Asian restaurants.

  2. David Anderson

    This is good news as I went to the store when it first opened and was looking for an Asian product, but I could not find it. Unfortunately I also couldn’t find anyone who spoke or understood English and I have not been back since. And this problem probably applies to younger Asian customers as well as many are not particularly fluent in their parent’s languages.

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