Business

Empty Vons to reopen as Asia Supermarket in central Fresno

Asia Supermarket will take over the space left behind when Vons closed on Blackstone Avenue near Ashlan Avenue last summer. The store, pictured on Feb. 29, is expected to reopen by the end of March.
Asia Supermarket will take over the space left behind when Vons closed on Blackstone Avenue near Ashlan Avenue last summer. The store, pictured on Feb. 29, is expected to reopen by the end of March. bclough@fresnobee.com

The empty Vons grocery store near Blackstone and Ashlan avenues will reopen soon as Asia Supermarket.

The store will be a second location for Asia Supermarket, already at Tulare and Chestnut avenues. The Blackstone store is double the size of the existing store and is expected to open by the end of March.

Owner Kao “Juele” Lee-Hinds said the new store’s lines will differ from the original store, which carries mostly products aimed at southeast Asians.

In addition to southeast Asian products, the new store will add Japanese, Chinese and Korean items to the mix.

But it won’t have the clothing, fabric or shoes that the original store carries. It will carry some non-food items, including pots and pans, rattan furniture and specialized farming hoes ordered from Thailand.

The bulk of the store will be stocked with food. That includes a large produce section carrying standard American cabbages and carrots, but also vegetables grown by local Hmong farmers, Lee-Hinds said.

“We’ll be carrying a lot of the greens that Asians eat, like bok choy, yu choy, gai choy … and thai basil, lemongrass.”

The store also will carry packaged food, including bags of rice – from 25 pounds to 100 pounds – and coconut milk and Asian spices, for example.

It will have a hot-food section with fried fish, Hmong sausages and fried rice.

Lee-Hinds said she often is asked why she didn’t open a conventional supermarket. She notes that there is a Grocery Outlet across the street and a new Walmart Supercenter just down the street.

“At our current location – Chestnut and Tulare – we’ve just been exploding at the seams,” Lee-Hinds said, adding that customers travel to the store from all over the city.

The new store will be closer to customers in central Fresno and will employ 60 to 70 people in part- and full-time jobs.

The store fills the last vacant grocery store in central Fresno after the Vons store closed and the Save Mart at Blackstone and Clinton avenues closed last summer, leaving a void for shoppers who live nearby.

The Save Mart reopened as a Smart & Final Extra in September after the company ditched its plans to build from scratch across the street.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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