By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Major grocery chain leaving Ceres
Raley's, an anchor tenant of the Ceres Marketplace shopping center on Hatch Road since October 1998, is closing Sept. 1 due to disappointing sales. A company spokeswoman said the closure date is not firm, however.

The company is attempting to relocate the store's 60 employees to other nearby stores, including Modesto and Turlock, said Ashley Zepernick, a communications specialist for Raley's/Bel-Air and Nob Hill Foods,

"Many will be transferred," said Zepernick. "We have already begun transferring and hope to transfer all without layoffs. I've talked to HR and they are confident we can transfer all the employees from that store."

She cited three factors as reason for the closure "including competition in the area and some unremarkable sales projections and our lease is about to expire." She said Raley's remains committed to the Modesto region with its other stores and that the Ceres store is the only one slated for closure company-wide.

Raley's, Bel-Air and Nob Hills operate 133 stores throughout Northern California and Nevada.

"That sucks," said customer Chris Thompson of Waterford, who said he often drives 20 minutes to shop at Raley's. "Guess I have to go across the street now."

Thompson was referencing Cost Less Foods, which has been doing robust business with its lower prices, directly south on Hatch Road. Raley's has been steadily losing its market share to discount box grocery stores in Ceres, Cost Less Foods being one and Food-4-Less being the other. Ceres is also served by Richland Market, Save Mart and La Sequoia Market.

Ernestine Barajas said she wouldn't miss Raley's. She was walking out of the store Friday afternoon with a few bags in her car when she learned the news.

"It should (go out of business)," she said. "It just cost me $65 for just this little bit. They're very pricey. I normally shop at Cost Less across the street."

Mayor Chris Vierra said he has always enjoyed shopping at the store and learning of the closure "rips my heart apart."

"It's going to have to change my buying habits," said Vierra, who lives north of the store.

As mayor, Vierra said the city will do what it can to facilitate a new tenant.

"It's going to be a huge hole," said Vierra. "I don't want it turning into a blighted area. I would hope another grocer could use the space."

He said the rumor mill has it that a Mexican market or Winco could possibly take advantage of the space.

The mayor expects the closure to have some sort of affect Staples, La Morenita or the handful of other small shops in the center but hopes it's minimal.

"It's a nice store, I'm sad to see them leave," said Cheryl Silva who runs the nearby Mountain Mike's Pizza. But she said she's not surprised given how people are trying to make their food dollars stretch."

Silva said she's not sure how the closure will affect pizza sales.

"I know our customers would go over there to shop while they wait."

Last year Raley's laid off 150 employees in the economic downturn, including entry-level to vice president positions. Five high-ranking executives, including chief operating officer Dave Clark, were among those laid off.