99 Ranch Market
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|Founded||1984 (Westminster, California)|
|Founder(s)||Roger H. Chen
Founder and CEO
|Headquarters||Buena Park, California|
|Number of locations||37|
|Products||Bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, grocery, meat, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor|
99 Ranch Market (traditional Chinese: 大華超級市場; simplified Chinese: 大华超级市场; pinyin: Dàhuá Chāojíshìchǎng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tāi-huâ-chhiau-kip-chhī-tiûⁿ) is an Asian American supermarket chain owned by Tawa Supermarket Inc., which is based in Buena Park, California. 99 Ranch has over 30 stores, primarily in California, with other stores in Nevada, Washington, and Texas. It is also considered a Taiwanese-American market because of the considerable amount of products imported from Taiwan and because the store was founded by Taiwanese-born American Roger H. Chen.
In Canada, 99 Ranch Market operated a joint venture with the Chinese-Canadian T & T Supermarket (大統華) chain beginning in 1993, with stores in the Vancouver area, as well as in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. T&T Supermarket chain was sold to Loblaw Companies in 2009 for $225 million.
Roger H. Chen (陳河源 Chén Héyuán), a Taiwanese-born American, opened the chain's first location in 1984 in Little Saigon, a Vietnamese American community located in Westminster, California. (now closed). In 1987, a second market was opened in Montebello (also now closed). It was originally called 99 Price Market but was eventually renamed 99 Ranch Market to give the supermarket a somewhat trendier name.
The name has led to some confusion. Some of the stores (especially in Southern California) are located in the same market area as the similarly named 99 Cents Only Stores, but nevertheless there is very little relation between the two chains (99 Ranch Market specializes in Asian-American supermarket products while 99 Cents Only is a variety store that sells products at a price of 99 cents). In addition, in Phoenix, Arizona, there is a similarly named ethnic supermarket called "Phoenix Ranch Market", but instead of selling Asian products it sells completely different Mexican products.
Over the years, 99 Ranch Market has developed into the largest Asian supermarket chain, with its own production facilities, including farms and processing factories. The chain is currently headquartered in Buena Park, California.
In addition to its American stores, it maintains its own production facilities in China and these company-owned plants have implemented quality control measures to ensure that products from China are compliant with Food and Drug Administration standards and regulations.
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|99 Ranch Market|
|Literal meaning||Great Chinese Supermarket|
|Vietnamese||Siêu Thị 99 Ranch|
Although most of its customers are ethnic Chinese Americans and Taiwanese Americans, shoppers also include recent immigrants from China, ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, and others. The chain sells a wide range of imported food products and merchandise from Hong Kong, Japan, Mainland China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, (particularly Vietnam and Thailand). It also carries some domestic products made by Chinese American companies and a limited selection of mainstream American brands. In addition, it has also reached out to pan-Asian customers, especially Filipino Americans and Japanese Americans, by opening locations in areas predominantly populated by people of these two ethnicities.
Because 99 Ranch Market serves a predominantly Chinese American base, Mandarin Chinese serves as the lingua franca of the supermarket and its adjacent businesses. In-store PA announcements announcing specials are multi-lingual and often spoken in English, Mandarin, Cantonese with certain stores also using Taiwanese and Vietnamese.
The English slogan is "united at heart for a better future" and the Chinese slogan is "大華與您共創未來" (Dà Huá yǔ nín gòngchuàng wèilái "99 Ranch is creating the future together with you").
Generally, the chain locates its stores in newer suburban Mandarin-speaking immigrant communities, such as Milpitas, California, where the supermarket is strategically located near the technology industries of the Silicon Valley which employ many Asian immigrants, and Irvine, California, where wealthy Taiwanese Americans settled during the 1990s.
Non-suburban locations tend to be located in multi-ethnic districts. For instance, the Van Nuys, California and Richmond, California stores are located in multi-cultural neighborhoods and are popular among African American, Mexican, and Caucasian customers, as well as Chinese-speaking customers.
Older Cantonese Chinese neighborhoods in California have not been as welcoming to the chain. The 99 Ranch in Los Angeles' Chinatown operated in the Bamboo Plaza area for several years, but eventually the store was closed, perhaps due to its obscure location and lack of parking space, and perhaps due to competition from local small grocers, who have maintained their popularity among elderly Chinese American shoppers.
Setting up in suburbia, 99 Ranch Market is often the only Asian American supermarket and shopping center for miles around. For instance, 99 Ranch Market is one of the very few Asian supermarkets operating in the San Fernando Valley.
Given the market chain's premium locations, the costs of rent for tenants are generally high, but other Chinese businesses, such as Sam Woo Restaurants, Chinese traditional medicine shops, and gift stores, have been known to follow 99 Ranch Market to its new locations, with 99 Ranch market becoming the anchor tenant for the smaller stores and restaurants within developing Asian suburban shopping areas. For example, in Phoenix, Arizona, the state's first 99 Ranch Market opened as part of a larger "Chinese Cultural Center" that offers a number of Asian restaurants and shops for the city and surrounding areas.
Most 99 Ranch Markets are company-owned. The only franchised locations in the United States are those in Las Vegas.
Store layout and offerings
In design, 99 Ranch Market stores are similar to mainstream American supermarkets, with aisles that are wider and less cluttered than in most other Chinese markets. The supermarket accepts credit cards for totals above $5.00 whereas many markets in old Chinatowns do not. Also, a handful of 99 Ranch Market locations have an in-store branch of East West Bank, a major Chinese American bank.
Most 99 Ranch Market locations have a full-service take-out deli serving a combination of Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Szechuan fare. Some of the delis in the markets also feature pre-cooked meats, such as Cantonese roast duck (huo ya) and barbecued pork (cha shao). These stores also have a bakery with cakes and fresh Chinese pastries, most of the bread products and pastries sold in the markets are made inside the store. The 99 Ranch locations that do not have delicatessens and/or bakeries simply operate as bare-bones markets.
99 Ranch Market used to operate a membership VIP card program, send out mail circulars with coupons, and promote some sweepstakes as well. All of these programs and promotions were discontinued in August, 2007, in favor of offering all customers the same price benefits. Although the chain remains successful and popular, prices are on average generally higher when compared to smaller non-chain Chinese groceries.
The chain also runs major advertising campaigns, including in-print ads in Chinese-language newspapers such as World Journal, television ads on ETTV America and TVB USA, and radio ads on Chinese-language radio in Southern California.
In Southern California, 99 Ranch's main competitors are the Hong Kong Supermarket (established in 1981) and Shun Fat Supermarket (started in the mid-1990s) chains. These two supermarket chains tend to be located within close proximity of some 99 Ranch Market locations, especially in the predominantly Asian American neighborhoods of southern California.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, 99 Ranch Market's main competitors are the Marina Food and Lion Supermarket chains, as well as smaller and longer-established Cantonese Chinese grocery stores, such as those in Oakland's Chinatown and the Asian neighborhoods of San Francisco. In the Silicon Valley, 99 Ranch Market and Marina are complemented by a number of other large Asian supermarkets with various national-ethnic affiliations. These include Tin Tin (Chinese), Lion (Chinese), Mitsuwa (Japanese), and Han Kook (Korean) supermarkets.
In the Seattle metropolitan area, 99 Ranch Market competes with longer-established supermarket chains such as Uwajimaya, local Vietnamese supermarkets Viet Wah and Hop Thanh (HT Market), and suburban Korean supermarkets and groceries such as Paldo World and H Mart. The two stores in the Seattle area are located far from where most Taiwanese Americans live, and cater instead to mainland Chinese immigrants and Asians from other backgrounds.
- 99 Ranch Market
- 99 Ranch Market (Chinese)
- T & T Supermarket, which operates joint ventures with 99 Ranch Market in Canada
- AsianWeek article: The Malls of Asian America— covers the immense popularity of a 99 Ranch Market shopping center in Milpitas, California
- "Grass Jelly, Anyone? 99 Ranch Brings Asian Flavor to East Bay" — article from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism about the 99 Ranch Market in Richmond, California