Any way you slice it, the new Lucky’s Market at West Park Promenade is committed to bringing home the bacon.
Officials for the specialty grocery chain based in Boulder, Colo., dedicated the new Billings location Wednesday not by cutting a ribbon, but by slicing through a side of bacon. The meat is raised without hormones and is then cured and smoked locally.
The store at 1603 Grand Ave. opened to employees and family members Monday night, and shoppers flocked to a soft opening Tuesday.
Bo Sharon, who founded Lucky’s Market with his wife, Trish, said the locally cured bacon is part of the chain’s dedication to purchasing local products.
“Thank you for welcoming us with open arms,” Trish Sharon said. “We’re exited to bring you good food at great prices and to get involved in the community.”
Community involvement has been a priority since the company was formed in 2003, the Sharons said.
Community involvement includes a volunteer program where staff members work with local nonprofit organizations. In a program called Bags for Change, Lucky’s makes donations to a variety of nonprofit organizations. This month the Human Resources Development Council, Not in Our Town Billings and Tumbleweed were all named partners.
Rose Park Elementary, Miles Avenue Elementary and Burlington Elementary will receive donations as part of the company’s 5 percent day, when 5 percent of the store's daily net receipts are donated to local entities.
The company’s charitable foundation also presented $5,000 checks to each of the following organizations: BikeNet, Passages culinary program, Family Services Inc. and the Billings Education Foundation.
With the store advertising discounts on red delicious apples, strawberries and grass-fed ground beef, Lucky’s appears eager to compete in the Billings grocery market.
"We'll always have the best prices on produce in town," Bo Sharon said.
Bob McDonald, owner of the West Park Promenade, said Lucky’s represents the kind of anchor tenant that he had been searching for since buying the shopping center in 2008.
After the Red Robin restaurant was moved to its present location, that freed up space for an anchor tenant.
“When we were able to move Red Robin, we were focused on a grocery store,” McDonald said. “We went to Boulder and met them, and we liked what they had."
Because grocery stores move so much merchandise, it was necessary to add a loading dock on the back of the store, McDonald said.
The 26,000-square-foot-store has about 140 part-time and full-time employees.
McDonald said customers who responded to surveys showed a big preference for locating a grocery store in West Park Promenade.
The Billings outlet is the fifth for Lucky’s, which has stores in Boulder and Longmont, Colo., and opened stores in Ohio and Missouri last year. Stores in Louisville, Ky., and St. Louis, Mo., are also scheduled to open this year.
“We are incredibly proud to be opening in Montana,” said Bo Sharon. “We imagine our stores as an oasis of health, kindness and support, the kind of store we love to shop in ourselves.”
“Boulder is a big town for natural food, and we hope to share the best of that in Billings. We also hope you’ll find some new tastes for your kitchen, either as inspiring ingredients or at our chef-quality deli counter — and we cannot wait to discover some fantastic Montana farmers and vendors as well,” Sharon said.
The grocery chain’s expansion has encountered a few hurdles. Last January, Albertsons LLC and Save Mart Supermarkets filed suit in U.S. District Court in Montana, alleging copyright infringement against Lucky’s because Albertsons owns the copyright for Lucky brand supermarkets in California and other Western states. Albertsons acquired Lucky Stores Inc. and American Stores Co. in 1999. The lawsuit alleges that Lucky’s Farmers Market LLC’s trademark is nearly identical to the logo used by the Albertsons-owned stores and violates its trademark.
Albertsons sought an injunction to bar Lucky’s Farmers Market from using the logo.
Attorneys representing Lucky’s Farmers Market have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, in part because the Albertsons-owned stores are not present in Montana. They are also seeking to transfer the action to the district of Colorado.
Bo Sharon said the trademark dispute has been all but settled.