Amid stiff grocery store competition in Charlotte, one of North Carolina’s largest international supermarkets plans to open another store in the area this summer as a “cultural hub.”
Super G Mart will debut its third and largest North Carolina store by the end of June or early July at 10500 Centrum Parkway in Pineville, company vice president of business development Peter Han told The Charlotte Observer recently.
At 108,000 square feet, the Pineville store is about double the size of Super G’s other two stores in Charlotte and Greensboro, Han said. The new store is at the former Kmart site across from Carolina Place mall.
The store also will have an international food hall, full-service restaurant and eight retail spaces for businesses, such as Korean cosmetics, a pharmacy, floral shop or boutique.
“We wanted to look for ways we can differentiate our brand and also give back to our community,” Han said.
“We do expect the more successful the food hall tenants are, it will attract different people and demographics that may not know about the grocery Super G Mart.”
Supermarket competition around Charlotte
Traditional grocers have been expanding in Charlotte, where Walmart and Harris Teeter are No. 1 and No. 2 by market share, according to the latest report by the industry publication Chain Store Guide.
On Friday, for instance, Florida-based Publix said it will open another store in east Charlotte at Clear Creek Crossings, the third announcement in as many months. Other supermarket chains like Food Lion, Lidl and Earth Fare have expanded in the Charlotte market too.
Grocers also are finding new ways to draw in customers.
In February, Lowes Foods opened its “first-of-its-kind” store with entertainment pitching itself as a “community hub.”
’Demand is definitely here’
During the pandemic under capacity restrictions, Super G Mart’s Independence Boulevard store saw lines as long as 60 feet on the weekends, Han said.
“That’s one of the reasons that we recognize the demand is definitely here and it’s time to expand to different parts of the city.”
Han said Super G’s revenue increased up to 30% during the pandemic as more people were cooking at home and started experimenting with different types of cuisine.
Super G is a privately held company. Han declined to discuss revenue totals or how much money is being invested in the new store.
“We saw more shoppers from outside of the Asian community,” Han said. Plus, Charlotte’s rapid growth is ideal for expansion, he said.
Super G also has rows of ingredients for recipes from around the world including Latin, African and European foods, according to the company website.
More about Super G Mart in Pineville
Construction for the Pineville store started a year ago.
The opening date has been delayed twice because of COVID-related construction supply shortages, Han said. Super G expected to open in January then pushed it to spring and now summer.
But hiring for about 90 full- and part-time employees is underway. Han said Super G expects to “overhire” at the east Charlotte store to get workers trained to move to the new store.
“A lot of our merchandising is different from traditional U.S. grocery stores,” Han said.
The Pineville store will open with a fresh design, updated modern logo and wider aisles.
“We want people to feel like every aisle that they go through, you’re essentially traveling through a different part of the world,” Han said. “We want the experience to be a new cultural hub.”
Han said the Charlotte store sees about 30,000 customers a week. He expects to draw even more customers to the Pineville store with greater accessibility near Interstate 485 and Pineville-Matthews Road, plus the addition of a food hall and restaurant.
“The international food scene has a long way to go (in Charlotte) for authentic cuisines,” he said. “We are making it as diverse as possible, every vendor will be representing a country or a region or a specific cuisine.”
Dining at Super G Mart
The international food hall is expected to open in September or the fall.
The 25,000-square-foot food hall with 14 stalls will give local restaurants more visibility, Han said. By comparison, Optimist Hall’s food hall is 22,000 square feet.
There also will be a 2,800-square-foot restaurant. Han said Super G wants to bring in something new to Charlotte like dim sum, hot pot or shabu-shabu.
Both the restaurant and food hall combined will have over 5,000-square-foot outdoor dining space.
A list of eight confirmed vendors provided by Han are:
▪ Tous Les Jour – Korean Bakery
▪ Gong Cha – Taiwanese Bubble Tea
▪ Yume Ramen – Japanese Ramen & Sushi items
▪ Sizzling – Pepper Lunch Concept
▪ Mochinut – Mochi Donuts & Korean Hotdogs
▪ Honey Buns – Steamed Buns, Dumplings, Chinese Cuisine
▪ Mukja – Korean Street Food
▪ Super G Mart Kitchen (still to be named) – Bibimbap, Korean Rice Bowls, Gmart product samples
‘An international destination’
Along with international foods, Super G Mart in Pineville will have a community center for cooking classes, language classes like Korean or Mandarin, and ways to learn about other cultures.
While the goal is to get people into the store for the “full experience,” Han said Super G also has online pickup and delivery services that started during the pandemic.
The large parking lot also could be used to host international festivals making Super G “an international destination,” Han said.
And, the new store won’t be the last for Super G Mart. Han said Super G plans to continue expanding in the Carolinas and possibly Tennessee.
“The new flagship concept will re-establish us and sets the tone for future Super G Marts,” he said.
More about Super G Mart
In 2008, Super G’s first store opened in Greensboro at about 50,000-square-feet.
Two years later, Super G Mart opened a 52,000-square-foot grocery store at 7323 East Independence Blvd. in Charlotte in the former Bi-Lo spot at Independence Square East shopping center.
In 2012, the Han family took ownership of Super G Mart. Han joined the family business in fall 2020 with his mother and Super G Mart CEO Irene Han, brother and general manager Paul Han and his wife, Minji, who helps with marketing.
Super G has 75 employees at its Charlotte store and 65 in Greensboro.
This story was originally published April 21, 2022 6:10 AM.