Community helps displaced employees of Filipino-Chinese family owned store
By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez
Still feeling the loss of a beloved community institution, Super Grocer’s loyal patrons and neighbors have continued to say good things about the family-owned grocery and will even raise funds to help its displaced employees.
Super Grocer, which was located on No. 1 Road in Steveston Village, was damaged by a fire last January 26, 2024. The ruins were eventually demolished after a few days.
Owned by the Lu family, the store opened in 1979, and was run by multiple generations of the family.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, in a CBC report, said that the fire seemed to have started in the back of the store, and shoppers and staff left the store quickly afterwards.
“It’s an institution in the community of Richmond … a place that people have gone to for decades and decades,” he said. “It’s a real loss to the people of the City of Richmond, and particularly for Steveston residents.”
The Steveston Merchants Association Board, in a message, said it “expresses its heartfelt sympathy and sorrow for the devastating fire that engulfed Super Grocer on the night of January 26, 2024. Our gratitude extends to the firefighters who valiantly fought the blaze, preventing its escalation to nearby structures.”
“Our thoughts are with the Lu family, who not only faced the setback of their family business but also with their employees who now find themselves without jobs.
The community, both businesses and residents, faced challenges such as smoke, water damage and power outages, but rallied together to support one another. Despite the setback, we remain optimistic that Super Grocer will emerge resilient and continue serving the community in years to come,” it added.
Super Grocer, in its website, said it would like to rebuild the supermarket “but that may take several years.”
Meanwhile, senior residents of Steveston Village who are loyal patrons of the store have expressed the difficulties they have experienced with the loss of the nearby supermarket.
Gerald Lindsay, 76, was one of those who relied on the proximity of the store and its affordable products.
“It sort of changed my life,” Lindsay, who uses a wheelchair, said in a CBC report. “That was the only place I could get to because it was just across the street.”
Relying on a fixed income, Lindsay said the other supermarket has meat products that are priced two times more than Super Grocer.
A lot of the grocery’s also patrons showed up for its meat sale last Feb. 2 to avail of the deals.
Despite very little advertising and a cash only payment basis, hundreds of customers turned up for the sale of frozen beef and pork as the grocery tried to sell its final inventory.
In time for Valentine’s Day, Super Grocer, which was known for its affordable plants and flowers, is also doing a Flower Sale along 12160 1st Ave. starting today until February 14.
Aside from its customers, its “neighbors” in Steveston Village are also organizing a fundraiser to help its displaced employees.
“Almost immediately upon hearing of the devastating fire at Super Grocer, which burned to the ground, it was brought to the attention of the Board of Directors of Steveston United Church. They initiated a plan to organize a fundraising event for the employees of Super Grocer and to support the fire damage repair for the Steveston Seafood House. Steveston United Church will host a fundraiser on Saturday, March 2nd, from 11 AM to 8 PM in the hall at Steveston United Church,” the church’s website reads.
Donations will be collected from the merchants of Steveston, which will be auctioned off at the event.
The church partnered with Alex Sagert, owner of Steveston Stage & Sound.
The fundraiser will feature music performances by the local Steveston band, Vintage.