CALIFORNIA CITY — After several months of planning and refurbishment, a new grocery store opened its doors in the Aspen Mall Shopping Center for a soft opening on March 31.
Located in the building of the former California City Market, which closed its doors at the end of 2018, Tropicana Market offers locals an alternative for groceries to the Dollar General Market on California City Boulevard or Stater Bros in Mojave.
“We looked into the community and found there was no business out here,” Ali said. He added Tropicana had contacted the city regarding as part of its research in establishing a presence in the community.
“As we looked into it, the major issue was transportation from all the vendors,” Ali said. “For single retail owners, it’s very difficult because they buy directly from those vendors.”
Ali noted companies such as Tropicana are different, with its own distribution centers. With a hub in Wasco, it’s easier to ship goods to California City.
The California City store also marks the fourth Tropicana location opened by Abdul Ali and his brother. The first one opened in Wasco in 2016, with two more locations in Coalinga in Fresno County and Dinuba in Tulare County. Their family owns its own set of grocery stores located in the Fresno area.
“My brother and I decided we wanted to do something for our own and stated out in the Wasco location,” Ali said. He noted with help from their family, the Wasco store became successful and launched two more locations.
Tropicana offers a range of fresh produce and and a full meat deli including beef, pork, poultry and some seafood, frozen meal section and all the other staples expected of a neighborhood grocery store.
“We have organic food, all the national brands, full service meat department and produce department,” Ali said.
Ali said he expects to start selling beer and other alcoholic drinks once the state finalizes Tropicana’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control license.
The California City location tends to be unique, Ali said, based largely on its size.
“We operate more in the 25,000, 35,000 or 40,000 square feet but here in Cal City this was the only building available for a grocery store, which is 8,000 square feet,” Ali said. “We bought the real estate and redid everything on the inside and out.”
Some corporate-owned businesses tend to tailor-build their own storefronts to fit specific needs.
Ali said the family business model tends to look at something larger than establishing a store. Ali said they recently purchased the Cal City Fitness Center building on Nemophilla Street and are looking at other investments in the community.
“Usually when we look at a community like this that needs a lot of stuff and is capable of doing, we go in there and do everything,” Ali said. “We are thinking about a bigger shopping center here and bigger retail area for tenants to look into. In order to get any national retailers out here, they tend to look at a high standard of requirements.”
Ali said he recently purchased an old Kmart building in Wasco with the intent to subdivide it and turn it into a future shopping center.
“We’re super excited and looking toward a real good relationship with the community,” Ali said of California City Tropicana. “We love integrating with a community and communicate well with it.