Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Puregold San Pablo City: First Impressions

I love to grocery. I find it relaxing. And of course, I find it nice that I can go to a grocery and buy stuff. But it's cooler when I can find and buy different and unusual things.

My favorite grocery in San Pablo so far has been the one at ULTIMART. It's bright and air conditioned, the aisles are wide enough for two carts to pass by each other, and best of all, once in a while you can find things you won't find at other San Pablo groceries. Stuff like frozen salmon, parmesan cheese and jalapeno dips. But even then, it's still painfully lacking in other stuff I want to buy in San Pablo, which is present in major groceries in Manila. Like fresh herbs. Exotic cold cuts and cheese.

So I did anticipate the opening of Puregold here in San Pablo. I didn't know about Puregold before. Apparently, it's a huge nationwide chain of groceries. I saw the start of construction at this big empty lot at Sambat, near the intersection of Rizal Avenue and the fork going to Alaminos and the other one going to Calauan.

By November, I thought that they still had a long way to go before it opened. When I heard they were opening on December 13, I didn't believe it. I thought it just wasn't possible. There was still a lot of building to do before this was anywhere near finished. The building being constructed was HUGE. This was by far the biggest grocery here in San Pablo, and by far one of the biggest buildings here ever.

But open on time they did, and with much hoopla, at 2pm on December 13. I wasn't able to go because I had a thing at my parents' house. I heard there were a lot of people, not only because San Pablo denizens just love checking out new stuff (remember the mob that greeted the opening of Pizza Hut a few years ago?), and also because celebrities were there. I didn't know most of them, but I do know Andrew E.

Naturally, it caused a huge traffic jam. Not only is this right next to an intersection, but it's right along San Pablo's most major road.

I waited a few days for the flurry of people to subside and then I went.

Going to Puregold from Central School was pure murder. In fairness, it was horrid traffic not because of Puregold but because of asphalting of Rizal Avenue.

SHOCK AND HORROR! They asphalted OVER the railroad tracks! That seems to cement (or rather asphalt), my observation that the trains won't be coming here to San Pablo anymore. They haven't for a while. Not since the horrid accident of a few years ago that claimed several lives.

Upon arriving at Puregold, I was immediately impressed by how huge it is. At least by San Pablo city standards. San Pablo has never seen anything like this before. At a Jollibee being constructed on the left side of the building I happened to saw San Pablo mayor Vic Amante.

Inside the building, it's one huge open area that seems bigger on the inside than it is outside. Strange I know. It's very bright and the air conditioning sufficiently cool as I like it.

There are a few food stalls open with ample seats and tables where people can rest and eat. There's stands for hot dogs, shawarma, pizza, balls, roast chicken, and there's a spot of "Plato Wraps", which I recognize from malls in Manila. It's not open yet though. The grocery area is a great big mixed area. There's canned goods, frozen goods, and all the other stuff one can see at a typical grocery. Surpringly, there's also small and big appliances, there's furniture, there's hardware stuff, clothes, school and office supplies, household supplies and kitchenware. Literally anything that you could possibly need you can find there.

Impressive as everything was, I was kind of disappointed that those items I was hoping was there, wasn't. And that's stuff like fresh herbs like basil and oregano. Not the bottled ones like from McCormick ok? Fresh ones in bags. I was also looking for stuff like Mozzarella and velveeta cheese, frozen salmon and some exotic cold cuts... stuff that you can normally see at an SM or Robinson's grocery.

Well, the place is huge and they have ample space for everything so I'm sure they'll stock with those things eventually. They've been open for like only three days so far anyway, so it's probably too early to complain.

I do have to comment on the look of the building. Sorry, but I just don't like the color. GREEN? What is this, PureGREEN? Because really, that's how some people are already calling it. Puregreen. I'm sure they did this to attract attention, but it just looks BADUY. They could have just used neutral colors and just made the lettering stand out. They could erect a very tall sign board, like the one Mcdonald's has at the Public Market.


How does Puregold affect the commerce of San Pablo City? Will it kill the public market and other groceries? All of this is debatable at this point, and we won't see how it will change things this early. In a year or so we can probably tell for sure.

Right now all we have is opinion, so this is mine:

On opening day lots of people can still be found at CENTRO and ULTIMART and there were still lots of people at the public market, so in all probability fears of adverse effects of Puregold may be unjustified. But I do believe it's still to early to tell.

The presence of this grocery gives the residents of San Pablo and nearby areas more choices, but I also think it's an opportunity for retailers to try and find ways to entice their customers through better quality of product and service. For instance, I was in the town yesterday looking for something. The guy at this store I went to was so friendly and accommodating that I desperately wanted to buy SOMETHING from his store although they didn't have what I needed. I would definitely go back one day to buy something, in spite of Puregold being there. I can't say the same for other stores in town.

I think it's worth going to the grocery and see what they don't offer, and offer that instead. And with a SMILE. Because that's how people will be able to compete with huge corporate entities like that.

Imagine what it would be like if SM built a branch here in San Pablo.I mean... what if they built a branch at that huge area in San Rafael? You know, at RIVERINA? It's huge enough to affect everything. Even Puregold.

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