HEALDSBURG — Kim and John Lloyd have owned and operated Big John’s Market since 1994. Although some think “Big John” is a nickname for John, it actually represents the family philosophy of being a “better, independent grocer.”
In 2014, the Lloyds launched an expansion and renovation of their market, located at 1345 Healdsburg Ave., which involved increasing employee count 20 percent and the sales floor 45 percent. They also envisioned increasing the percentage of local products. Today 95 percent of all items are locally sourced.
The market is a diverse blend of traditional shopping aisles and sections devoted to prepared foods — a boulangerie, cheeses from all nations, an olive bar, hot buffet, deli sandwiches, sushi, burritos and pizza — as well as a 1,500 SKU indoor wine cave with a simulated barrel stave ceiling. The project encompasses 48,685-square-feet of market, office and warehouse space.
The Lloyds champion green practices by offering customers an opportunity to use one of four electronic vehicle-charging stations as they shop.
“While contemplating a renovation in 2003, we spoke to our landlord and he suggested we buy him out. We did that, but scaled back plans due to budget restraints,” John Lloyd said.
Fast-forward to early 2014 and the Lloyds decided to enlarge their market’s footprint with a complete makeover. The initial plan called for razing two strip rental units and placing the expansion between the market and strip.
However, since the market (built originally in 1968) and the retail strip (built in 1982), were dissimilar in style, the Lloyd’s wanted to find something unique to build in between.
“My wife and I were in a New Orleans hotel with a view of a round building with a cupola on top. We took photos that later became the design of our two-story rotunda. As grocers, Kim and I control store functions and the effectiveness process, but we asked experts in architecture and other fields to help with the physical aspects of making this the best supermarket in history. The changes took place while we stayed open daily. Remaining on budget, and on schedule, was essential.”
The Lloyds original marketing strategy was defined as buying a supermarket without any experience in running one.
“Our peers made decisions based on input from wholesalers, brokers and dealers. While that’s a great way to fill shelves, when merchandise doesn’t move, it’s on us and the profits disappear. We decided it would make better sense to ask for, and respond to, customer input, and that’s what guides our purchasing decisions to this day.”
Big John’s Market Expansion
COST: $11.6 million ($238 a square foot)
CONTRACTOR: Eddinger Enterprises, Inc.
ARCHITECT: Lafranchi Architecture & Development
FINANCING: Construction and permanent financing by Summit State Bank
COMPLETED: May 6, 2016