Welcome to MARTIN’S

The first phase of the Ukrop’s to MARTIN’S conversion was completed this morning as doors opened at the Short Pump, Virginia Center, Colonial Square, and Williamsburg stores. A few media folk were invited to stop by the Short Pump location and take a look around.

The first phase of the Ukrop’s to MARTIN’S conversion was completed this morning as doors opened at the Short Pump, Virginia Center, Colonial Square, and Williamsburg stores.

A few media folk were invited to stop by the Short Pump location (that’s at 3460 Pump Road) and take a look around. Tracy Pawelski, Director of Public and Community Relations for MARTIN’S gave us a quick tour of the newly-revamped digs, giving us a proper introduction to this much-anticipated (and/or much-dreaded, perhaps?) addition to Richmond’s business community.

I’ll spare you a nostalgic narrative (even though I really want to give you one because, let’s be honest, I got a tad choked up seeing that big, red MARTIN’S sign hanging outside the building) and break it all down, quick ‘n’ dirty style.

What’s staying the same

Pawelski let us know that MARTIN’S was and is dedicated to the stores reflecting what the community wants. Here are few Ukrop’s traditions that you will still see in MARTIN’S.

  • You will still get the five cent bag credit. MARTIN’S apparently doesn’t do this in all of their stores, but they chose to keep that up for Richmonders.
  • Pawelski said that in the newer stores, they tried to keep the layout as familiar as possible, asking themselves, “How can we keep things intact but make them more efficient?” However, older stores will see more dramatic changes in how things are spaced out.
  • Ukrop’s fried chicken lovers, fear not. MARTIN’S is keeping the old recipe. The same goes for their other bakery and prepared food items. As Pawelski put it, “Why would we want to change the things that people love?”
  • The salad bar is still there, offering the same fresh, goodies.
  • MARTIN’S will be maintaining ALL relationships that Ukrop’s held with local farmers.
  • All Ukrop’s bakery and prepared food items are still available. (We told you those Rainbow cookies weren’t going anywhere.)

  • Self checkout is still available.
  • MARTIN’S will still be offering carry-out-to-car service. And tips are still not allowed.
  • Those of you who favor the more scandalous weekly rags, you won’t find those at MARTIN’S, just like you couldn’t at Ukrop’s. They’ve decided to uphold Ukrop’s choice to not sell the more “salacious” magazines.
  • MARTIN’S will be picking up where Ukrop’s left off concerning donations to the Central Virginia Foodbank. In fact, as the first phase of the conversion was taking place, MARTIN’S gave CVFB 40,000 pounds of food, particularly name brands that MARTIN’S does not carry and needed to be cleared out.

What’s changing

We can’t expect things to stay exactly the same, and MARTIN’S has a few changes in store that might make things a bit more pleasant (but shouldn’t rock the boat too much).

  • The cosmetic changes to the Short Pump store were minor but noticeable: more lighting (included LEDs), different signage inside and outside of the store, and associates wearing bright green polos.
  • Beer! Wine! WE SAW IT. They’ve got a nice selection of Virginia wines, as well as some imports. No sommelier on staff, but Pawelski assures us that staff is quite knowledgeable of the stock. Beer lovers, you can also build a 6-pack mix and match (although some tour-goers deemed the selection “eh.”)

  • Stores are open from 6am to midnight, daily. No plans for a 24-hour store yet, but they will be paying attention to what the community wants.
  • MARTIN’S is offering a slightly richer benefits package for employees, in part because of the extended days and hours of operation.
  • WiFi will be available in all MARTIN’S stores once the conversion is complete.
  • Expect 30 percent more produce. They’ve also doubled the variety of natural or organic products.
  • The MARTIN’S salad bar has a scale so you’ll know up front how much your veg is costing you.
  • MARTIN’S has made a couple contributions to the bakery selection, including artisan breads, shoofly pie, and whoopie pies. I’ve never heard of the last two, but they sound intriguing.
  • MARTIN’S is offering a much wider selection of health and beauty products, often at prices 10 to 15 percent lower than conventional drugstores.
  • Instead of your UVC card, you’ll have your MARTIN’S BONUSCARD. Just like the old card, this will get you additional savings on various items. They even have how much you’ll save spelled out for you on the price tag, so that’s pretty nice.

  • Should you get lost or need some (or 2500 ) recipe ideas, MARTIN’S also offers a “Shopping Solutions” kiosk where you can locate items on a map of the store or pull a list of ingredients to prepare one of their recommended dishes. You can also print the maps and recipes out.
  • They’re hiring! With more operating hours than Ukrop’s, MARTIN’S is looking to take on additional staff. Stop by martinsfoods.com for more information.

I realize you’re probably thinking, “Ok, enough with the facts and bullet points. What about the intangibles? You know, the feel of the place?” The answer is, at least from what I saw, so far so good. Pawelski pointed out, this has been an all hands effort, and apparently high-ups from the Ukrop family have already been making rounds to the newly converted stores as early as this morning. The associates looked happy and the customers seemed pleased. In fact, we arrived at the store at 10am and the parking lot was already PACKED. It’ll be interesting to see how the changes translate to each store as the conversions continue — I have a feeling that renovations to the older, more established Ukrop’s locations (like the Carytown store, for example) will likely prompt stronger reactions from the customers.

So you tell us. Have you shopped at MARTIN’S yet? What were your thoughts? Are you crying into your White House Rolls (which you can still get!) or toasting the folks at MARTIN’S and their open-on-Sunday-beer-and-wine-loving-ways?

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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