Mar-Val Food Stores

Something for Everyone

Mar-Val Food Stores says it is important for the company to take a full-service approach and offer everything to everyone. “We need to be very price-competitive, have quality products and offer them good service,” President Steven Rodacker says. “We are still competing against Safeway and Walmart that is 30 minutes from our porch. People still drive to those bigger towns for other services, so we have to be very competitive and quality-driven.”

Local sourcing is a high priority at Mar-Val Food Stores because it strives to bring its customers only the best. The company partners with Fresno County, Calif.-based Harris Ranch Beef Family of Companies to supply all of its USDA Choice Angus beef. Local produce is also featured as often as possible, Rodacker says.

“Our kind of approach is in the towns we’re in, the communities we’re in, we want to give customers a good value and quality product, and have a clean, well-serviced environment,” he adds. “If we do our job on the inside, they will be our customers, and that’s kind of a belief that we have.”

Mar-Val Food Stores recently built a smokehouse in its Valley Springs location, which Rodacker says is unique; he’s unaware of any other grocery store in the company’s area with one. The company will create a whole new product line using the smoker. “We’ve hired a gentleman who has 12 to 14 years of experience running a smokehouse and our meat director is also very experienced,” he says. “We are currently in the process of smoking all of our own sausages, jerky, bacon and ham. We’re really excited about it; it’s a change that can bring more business and variety to our company.”

The smokehouse will add to Mar-Val’s meat variety, which includes an extensive vacuum-sealed marinated meat selection. “You can buy from our specialty sections, which include items such as chicken cordon bleu, bacon-wrapped scallops, stuffed bell peppers and much more that are ready to go, and you can take it home to cook,” Rodacker explains. “These are the different things we try to do.”

Steady Growth

Moving forward, Mar-Val Food Stores will continue to innovate new offerings in its stores while maintaining steady growth, which has most recently been through acquisitions. The company in 2011 acquired Clements Country Market, a 5,000-square-foot convenience store. It is being sold to Rodacker’s son, Casey, and Tyler Kidd, the son of Rodacker’s partner Mark Kidd. The plan moving forward is to enhance the convenience store by adding gasoline pumps.

In 2012, Mar-Val Food Stores acquired Gene’s Fine Foods, a more upscale and specialty grocery store in Pleasanton, Calif. Gene’s 24,000-square-foot store offers certified Angus beef, dry-aged beef along with prime beef, a 24-foot seafood counter that is replenished six times a week and tastings of beer, wine, chocolate and cheese, as well as other delectables for its foodie customers.

Mar-Val Food Stores’ most recent acquisition this past May is in the Clear Lake resort area of Nice, Calif. The store was owned and operated since 1997 by a friend of Rodacker’s in Mar-Val’s wholesale group, Unified Grocers. The Nice store was remerchandised at night so it could stay open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. A new laminate wood floor was installed around the perimeter, as well as LED lighting and energy-efficient closed display cases. The company also remodeled the produce department in the Nice store.

The company believes smart growth and innovation will continue to help it and other independent grocers prosper. “The younger people keep staying because the populations aren’t decreasing in our towns,” Rodacker notes. “We aren’t growing too fast in these communities. We battle the fight [for business] every day like every industry out there.”