By Albert H. Fulcher
Despite closures, Jimbo’s…Naturally! remains committed to local community
Like walking through a ghost town, retailers at the Westfield Horton Plaza, a Downtown destination since 1985, are closing their doors as leases run out. These closures are a result of Paris-based company Unibail-Rodamco, which entered into an agreement with the Australian-based Westfield Corporation for a $15.7 billion purchase of its properties Dec. 20, which included all Westfield’s 35 malls in the U.S. and Britain. It also adds to Unibail-Rodamco’s 69 centers in continental Europe, making it the third largest real estate company in the world.
Though the future of Downtown’s Horton Plaza is still unknown, the acquisition is part of Unibail-Rodamco’s global consolidation of retail properties as retailers struggle with the continuing surge of online shopping moguls such as Amazon.
With few stores left in Horton Plaza and a tremendous drop in foot traffic, the Jimbo’s…Naturally! grocer continues to serve the Downtown area.
Kelly Hartford, Jimbo’s director of marketing, said that as storefronts close at Horton Plaza in anticipation of its future redesign, Jimbo’s remains open and is excited to be part of what might come with the redevelopment of this prime real estate.
“Jimbo’s is not going anywhere,” Hartford said. “We are here for the long haul. Jimbo’s is locked in this location. We are alive and kicking here.”
Store Manager Phillip Balderrama said that Jimbo’s is now the destination spot in the former popular and unique shopping mall and its commitment in offering as much organic foods as possible is the heart of what makes it a key marketplace, along with its superior customer service.
“As you walk through the store, you will be greeted by associates in every department,” he said. “We are trying to be as organic as possible. Our produce department right now is about 96 percent organic and our goal date is March 30, to be at 100 percent organic in produce.”
Balderrama said there is not much difference in prices from regular grocery stores, especially in its produce section.
“When I look at our prices, [they are] not that expensive. You are talking about San Diego locally grown organic versus conventional products that were probably grown hundreds of miles away,” he said.
Hartford said they do everything possible to make shopping at Jimbo’s an experience that fits the needs of the local community.
“When we go 100 percent organic, we will be the only retailer in San Diego that can say that,” she said. “From produce to our food service department, we try to be organic as much as possible. Our food service is spectacular; we do everything from scratch.”
All baked items in the bakery, and the food and salads in the deli department are all made in house. Hartford said while “from scratch” is labor intensive, it is the vision of Jimbo’s that it serves the freshest products, using as many organic ingredients as possible.
“You can’t get any fresher,” she said. “At this store, the food service department is packed during lunchtime. Even if you find something ‘packaged’ in food service, we packaged it ourselves.”
Jimbo’s not only offers organic food, but fresh seafood, and a large selection of organic and all-natural meats, as well. There is a great assortment of gluten-free products and non-genetically modified organisms (non-GMO) products. Hartford said that “top quality and organic is always top priority.
“Our ‘Support San Diego’ program is amazing and you will see the logo throughout the store,” she added. “This means that the product was grown or the company is in San Diego County.”
Jimbo’s has a relationship with approximately 25 organic San Diego farmers it sources from.
“That’s from farm to store,” Harford said. “It’s the freshest produce you can get. It’s very difficult for me to buy produce from anywhere [other] than [Jimbo’s], and I don’t say that because I work here. I trust it, I know where it is coming from, it’s the best quality and it lasts. We really cherish our relationship with our local farmers and that is where the store started with [founder Jim “Jimbo” Someck] and the relationships have grown.”
Hartford said management is working with the times and making it easier for customers to experience the grocery store in their own ways. Its online “Instacart” is utilized by many customers, delivering to doorsteps usually within the hour. It has its own designated parking level which brings customers directly into the store. Patrons also get two hours of validated parking.
Jimbo’s “It’s in the Bag! Wooden Nickel Program” is designed to entice people to recycle their own bags. Customers can either get 5 cents off their purchase for each personal bag used or receive a wooden nickel to place in one of its four charity buckets at the front of the store. It selects four nonprofit organizations every three months. Each wooden nickel equals the 5 cents it costs to purchase a bag and that is passed on to the charities. Hartford said it is important to Someck that money it saves goes back into the community.The store is also committed to children, the community and the environment, actively involved with groups and in schools, and holds events that educate its customers on organic and natural foods.
Some in-store promotions bring in local farmer partners to talk with customers about the products they grow and the importance and health benefits of organic foods.
Hartford said Jimbo’s has some great events coming up and re-emphasized that this neighborhood grocery store is not closing its doors anytime in the foreseeable future.
“Remember that we are here,” she said. “We are not going anywhere and we are committed to the community.”
—Albert Fulcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.