The Oracle Market is set to reopen as early as this week after its corporate manager shut it down this summer.
The store, at 760 E. American Ave. in Oracle, is the only grocer in the unincorporated village about 35 miles northeast of Tucson. When it was closed, residents had to drive as far as 15 miles to shop.
Adrian Darimont, who owns the building while Albuquerque-based GDI Grocery Wholesale operated it, is reopening the store after GDI closed its doors several months ago.
The tentative reopening date is Friday.
The Star caught up with manager Glen Merriman, 69, who is resuming his role under a different operator, to find out what the market has done to prepare for another run.
Merriman lives in Sun City in the Phoenix area and makes a nearly three-hour drive to Oracle at the beginning and end of each week.
Here are excerpts of the conversation.
Q. What will the store emphasize when it reopens?
A. "It will basically be the same, with more emphasis on the meat department, produce, dairy and bread. The things we know how to do well are those items. The small grocery store company that (ran) it before tried to compete with the dollar stores, and that doesn't work. We can't compete with certain pricing."
Q. What role in the community do you want the market to have?
A. "We want to carve out our own niche as a butcher shop. A place where someone can get good, fresh produce. We are not going to try to be a super grocery store."
Q. Why the shift to emphasizing the deli?
A. "As a smaller operator, we're able to operate on a little smaller margins, and able to age meat anywhere from 14 to 21 days. You don't get that in major supermarkets. Aging beef makes all the difference in the world. It's more tender and flavorful."
Q. What did you learn under the previous bosses?
A. "That you couldn't be a large company in the outside world and try to run a store in Oracle. It just doesn't work. I believe you need to tailor a store to fit the needs of the community."
Q. How long have you been working on the relaunch?
A. "Almost from the day it closed. I'm very excited about what we're doing. All along, I felt like (GDI) didn't understand the community. To do business in a small community, you have to love and understand the community. They were grocery people, no doubt about that, but they certainly did not understand the people."
Q. Do you think Oracle residents missed the store?
A. "If you count the 10, 15 or 20 people every day who bug us, asking 'When you gonna reopen?' I'd say they've missed us in the community and are excited."
Q. How many employees will you have?
A. "We had nine or 10 before it closed. I'm not sure, but we'll probably have nine part-time employees. I'm the only full-timer. I intended to retire. It was my sixth attempt to retire, but it hasn't happened yet. But I like what I'm doing so I'm not whining."
If you go
What: Oracle Market.
Where: 760 E. American Ave., Oracle.
Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.
Reopening date: Tentatively scheduled for Friday.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org