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Outstanding example of independent style: beating California chains with 50,000 pounds of fish.

Faced with the opening of two 55,000-square-foot Safeways and a 50,000-foot Ralphs Superstore within two miles of his conventional market in the National City area of San Diego, Victor Najor decided to cater more to the ethnic groups that shop his store. His savvy for satisfying Oriental and Hispanic customers has resulted in an 8% sales increase in 1983 despite his new competitors.

"This community is a melting pot of the '80s," says the 33-year-old owner of Victory Foods. Najor estimates his customer mix to be 40% Oriental, 30% Hispanic, 25% caucasian, and 5% black.

"We have expanded our meat counter and frozen food case so we could put more of an emphasis on seafood." Najor says. "Fish is the primary protein source for most Orientals--they will shop a store that carries the seafood items they eat, at an affordable price."

Najor has been selling a wide selection of seafood, including mackerel, red snapper, squid, rock crab, abalone and tuna. And many of these fish are not exactly minnows--a fresh tuna weighs about forty pounds.

Najor has been purchasing yellowtail in 50,000-pound quantities. "Yellowtail is a fish similar to tuna that is popular with the Filipinos, Japanese and Samoans. They fry it, make head soup and use it for sushi," he notes. The whole yellowtail, which weighs 60 to 80 pounds, is priced at 69 cents per pound compared to $2.49 per pound for fillet at his competition.

During the grand opening week of one of the Safeways, Najor purchased 1,500 pounds of ginger root and priced it at 99 cents per pound. This low-ball special kept many Oriental customers from shopping the new chain store. Other unusual products carried for the Oriental trade include frozen blood and ruffle fat, which is a pig gland that Filipinos fry and eat as an hors d'ouevre.

To satisfy the Hispanic trade, Najor buys truckloads of California Rose Rice, and prices the 25-pound bags at $3.99. He also sells fresh tortillas produced by three different sources. Eggs, a Mexican staple, are always sold below cost and poultry is priced only pennies above cost.

Volume in the 16,000-footer is running $80,000 per week despite more than 160,000 feet of new chain competition. "I could destroy those chains if I had more space," Najor says.

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Title Annotation:Victor Najor of San Diego
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Mar 1, 1984
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