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What Would You Like to See in a Renovated Ralph's? (Discussion)

Altadena's local Ralph's has drawn a lot of criticism for its size and lack of features. If the store were to expand what would you like to see?

On the site yesterday branch stemmed out (as it so often does) into a larger discussion of the local business options.

One of the side discussions was the Ralph's on Lake Avenue, one of two major grocery stores in Altadena.  As many have noted on the site, the Ralph's is small, but with a large vacant lot next door, the store could easily expand without cutting out any parking capacity.

Ed Meyers, of the local branch of the Chamber of Commerce, took the initiative to make some calls to the Ralph's management and their corporate headquarters to discuss the problems with the branch.  From his comments on the site:

OK, called Ralphs HQ. For now, I only spoke to a customer srv. person. Explained the situation at our Ralphs. Said there's no service deli, no bakery, no seafood/meat dep't (I think there's a small room in the back where they grind or cut some meat). Customer srv person asked me, "What DO they have if they don't have that?"

***

Got my c/b from Ralphs. Local store director would also like to see an expansion. She gets many requests for such.

I would recommend that shoppers go to our local Ralphs, ask to see Kris/Chris the store director and make your request.
An even better way is to call Ralphs at 888-437-3496. Go thru the phone menu until you get to a live operator. Explain what you'd like Ralphs to do. A msg will be sent to both the store director and a Division Supervisor.

While nothing is guaranteed, let's start here and see what happens.

As Ed writes, "nothing is guaranteed" but for those of you who would like to see changes at the store, what would those changes be?  Are there any readers out there who go out of their way to go to other stores to shop because of the lack of selection at that Ralph's?  What sort of improvements would you like to see there as a shopper?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Marcia January 07, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I would like all the things mentioned here as well as accessible restrooms. I don't even t hink the restroom situation in this store is legal.
Steve Lamb January 07, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I actually have a relative who works at whats left of Ralph's corporate in Compton. They shipped all the decision makers to Cincinnati a year ago. Amazingly inside Ralphs they have the same name for our store that many of us have "Ghetto Ralphs". They see the store as unprofitable mostly because of the minorities in Altadena, and therefore not to be remodeled. I always point out to my relative that those SAME Altadena minorities are driving to LaCanada to shop the store there and that were they to offer the same quality goods and store here that in this town of 46,000 people it would be MUCH more profitable than the store in a town of 12,000 people. This conversation always ends with me being told I am an idealist, and somehow it doesn't sound like they mean it as a compliment. The only thing that will ever turn corporate around is protesting and a complete community boycott of ALL their stores. People have been calling them literally for twenty years that I know of. Their manager wants to improve and expand the store. All we really want is what they have in LaCanada. Why should we have to come up with a program and beg for it, when its what they automatically put in ALL their other stores? BTW, we did an intensive call in campaign 14 years ago that they IGNORED that's why there is a supermarket in Lincoln Crossing..... But I salute Ed for trying yet again. Personally I think we should find a developer who will buy it, rip it down and turn it to dense housing.....lol
Holly Rundberg January 07, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I have lived here 12 years. When I first moved in I drove by the Ralph's store and thought that it was yet another plus point for living here. After my first visit I was soon disabused of that thought. I was surprised that there was no bakery, a weak flower section, no meat/fish counter, no sandwich counter, the fruit & vegetables at the time were dreary, and in general the store looked shabby, and smelled odd. I asked about it and no one knew what to say. Then, years later, there was the false information that they were going to build on the now empty lot (that also looks awful), but that went down the drain supposedly due to the strike. It is sad to me that the selection of products is so odd. I went in last year to get a jar of blue cheese salad dressing for a recipe and found 4 brands of ranch dressing - no blue cheese? How odd is that? The store has a selection of basics but at times as I look through the aisles I wonder if they don't get products that don't sell at other stores? The stock just doesn't make sense at times. ...cont'd.
Holly Rundberg January 07, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I have heard from past discussions ('Altadena No Town Center-Oct., 2010') on this Patch that the store is small because the parking lot is small. But hey! If the lot is basically empty what difference does it make? Years ago I requested a number from the store and also called Ralph's corporate on my own, I did not know there was a call campaign. They had only weak comments. I have often wondered if it was a race issue only because the store is obviously so poorly cared for and feels like a 'ghetto Ralph's.' During these many years, poor economy or not, there have been market renovation all over Pasadena (Von's at Or. Grove & Fair Oaks for ex.), Ralph's in La Crescenta, and La Canada, and of course Lincoln Crossing which is always packed. Ralph's even expanded the La Canada store, but I wonder how, if they did not expand the parking too?? This speaks so poorly for the Ralph's corporation. I feel a broader exposure about the issue is needed. We can only try. And yes, they will not see me in their stores again. I did it during the strike, I can do it again!
Nico January 07, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Dan, you are doing a great service by making public this neglect by Raph's and its parent companies. Somehow nothing ever gets addressed until the press makes these issues very public. Then, somehow, the non-compliant restrooms, the lack of services and the obvious racism involved somehow get the executives attention. Keep this issue alive and in the forefront. Maybe we can team up with those pesky TV reporters who go stick a microphone in the face of owners and ask..."Why won't you serve a community historically high in minorities?" and see what they say when they know they will be on television or in print. Good work! This Patch is really starting to become an instrument of positive change and information! In an inmproved Ralphs I would like to see: quality produce rather than the rejects from wealthier stores. Second, a full service deli. Third, improved lighting, shelving and displays. And of course, compliant restrooms. I am actually boycotting Trader Joes until they sign the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food agreement which Whole Foods and others have joined. This agreement prevents the slave-like conditions which many workers are exposed to in the huge tomato growing fields in Immocalee Florida. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalition_of_Immokalee_Workers) That, and upon finding apples from China and pears from Chile on their shelves when we have tons of superb fruit just a few miles away is an eye opener.
P Goeders January 07, 2012 at 05:24 PM
"we did an intensive call in campaign 14 years ago that they IGNORED" 14 years was aeons ago in terms of how corporations respond to a well publicized (twitter/facebook/social media etc) effort to expose where they are letting a community down. The question is how badly we in Altadena want to see something change. We wanted it to save the Patticakes mural. We wanted it to save the options at the Coffee Gallery. We wanted it to save Fancy Food Truck Fridays. Despite an uphill battle, we want a Farmer's Market and there are still people working hard for our community to wade through the red tape for that one. It's all entirely possible, but we, as a community have to really want it and get down with the work to make it happen.
SteveB January 07, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I will drive by Ralphs on my way to Vons at Allen/Washington. Most of the time, I will choose Vons simply because it is a more pleasant shopping experience. The parking lot is well maintained and landscaped. The interior is attractive and clean. If we need meat/fish, we go to Vons - lacking a meat counter, the offerings at Ralph just seem inferior, in selection and quality - and though I imagine they are safe, I do not trust them. The integrated Starbucks, pharamacy, and Wells Fargo are all nice features, but I don't use them. We do like Vons roasted chickens, and I like their wine selection. The produce offered is superior as well (though pricey). Oddly, I don't hold Rite Aid to the same standards. I will usually go to our local Altadena & Lake Rite Aid vs. the vastly superior Rite Aid on Hill and Washington. Perhaps because my visits to Rite Aid are usually for a specific item, the pain is relatively small ....
Nancy Steele January 07, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I stopped shopping at the Ralph's in Altadena after the excitement over a remodel when they tore down Washington Mutual. You would think Corporate would understand that if you have a crappy store, people won't shop there.
Dudley Johnson February 28, 2012 at 07:13 PM
We call it "The Ralphs That Time Forgot." I go to the Ralphs in Hastings Ranch when I need a large shopping trip. This Ralphs is a corner grocery to run into when you need something last minute. But Ghetto Ralphs? Has Ralphs corporate looked at the demographic of the residents east of Lake. Lot's of wealthy people there who would love to shop local. If they'd update the store, more would shop there.
Brian February 28, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Yes Steve, this is a management problem at the corporate level of Ralphs / Kroger. A simple study involving 3 or 4 employees from corporate headquarters could have determined these findings years ago - that Altadenans drive to Hastings Ranch & La Canada and other area to grocery shop. By the way, it worth repeating that every Ralphs from Monrovia, Arcadia, Pasadena Hastings, La Canada, La Crescenta / Tujunga, Sunland stores ALL HAVE soup bars, salad bars, deli, flower shop, coffee bar etc. Altadena's Ralphs is the ONLY store with nothing but the most basic items - and often times you cannot find name-brand stuff you would find nearly everywhere else in this region. When you couple these facts with the median income and proximity to million dollar homes located a half mile East on Mendocino St. one has to ask: What is going on in the minds of Ralphs corporate management???? Many of the other Ralphs stores mentioned have already undergone major remodels and upgrades to shopper amenities such as soup/salad bars, deli etc. It is really time to rattle some cages at Ralphs corporate to get this done. I'll be making copies of the petition.
Alexis Bante February 29, 2012 at 05:50 PM
In general I am very disappointed in Ralphs as a grocery store. They are not keeping up with the wants and needs of the consumer. I moved here in December and knew I was in trouble when they told me the store was to small to carry philo dough! Philo dough boxes are thin and take up little room. I am now going to Von's on Allen. It is a beautiful store and makes for a pleasant shopping experience. Get with it Ralph's! Keep up with the competition! Go to other parts of the country and see what is happening in grocery stores across the U.S. Even in the midwest the grocery stores are better than what they have here in Pasadena/Altadena. You will get customers if you provide. Move over old Ralph's execs. and let the younger employees with energy give you some "fresh" ideas. You need help!!!!!
ed meyers February 29, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Something to ponder---- for Ralph's to expand, they very likely need to build on the vacant Lake/Calavaras lot. Word on the street is that the lot's owner may not be willing to play ball or his price tag for lease or sale is cost prohibitive. I don't know how much the land lease is but may be worthwile to understand this angle. You'd think leasing it at a fair price is better than having it sit vacant.
SteveB March 01, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Eminent domain?
Linda R March 30, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I don't need all the bells and whistles mentioned by others herein while shopping, most of which is costly and superfluous.......I rarely go to the Ralph's in Altadena because I don't like the plastic bag ordinance.......so I shop mostly in LaCanada at all of the stores there. Sort of off topic, that vacant lot next to Ralph's would make an excellent site to relocate the Post Office......no on street parking there, so I also utilize the LaCanada Post Office. Maybe all of this will come out at the community workshops.....and I just learned another grocery store will be opening up on Lincoln? I won't shop there either ......There are areas of Altadena that are scary to me and I have lived here 44 years!

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