Shopper's Corner Inc.
In Santa Cruz, California, Shopper’s Corner Inc. is anything but the ordinary in grocery shopping. For 77 years, the family-owned and -operated store has brought customers a colorful, exciting shopping experience. Shopper’s has been in business since 1938 and has built a loyal following for customers who love good food and drink and appreciate a wide variety of fresh, local produce, imported cheese and fine wines, gourmet prepared dishes, homemade sauces, hand-cut and marinated meats and Pacific-sourced seafood.
“We still stock all of the usual pantry staples as well, but we cater to foodies and people looking for boutique, hard-to-find items,” says Andre Beauregard, third-generation partner and co-owner alongside his father, Jim Beauregard.
Shopper’s takes great pride in its selection of specialty items, including a selection of more than 150 types of imported and domestic cheese and 3,000 wines from around the world, plus the largest selection of locally made Santa Cruz Mountain Wines available. “We have more wine labels than anyone else in the area,” notes Andre. “Santa Cruz is home to an expanse of vineyards and local wineries so we have relationships with many area growers. We try to support as many locally owned companies as possible.”
But Andre and the Shopper’s team will travel far and wide in search of new and unique items. “We go to many industry food shows to find special products,” he says. “We attend the annual Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and the Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim. One of my jobs is to find new and interesting items, meeting with vendors and suppliers and making sure they’re a right fit for our store. We really try to be super high quality in our specialty products.”
Another aspect Andre says stands out about Shopper’s is the store has one of the last old-time meat markets in the area, staffed with highly skilled butchers. Shopper’s only sells ultra-fresh USDA Choice beef and has a large selection of specialty cuts and house-made sausages.
“We get full sides of beef in and break them down ourselves,” he says. “We also do more in the meat department such as marinating and packaging. We purchased a meat tumbler, which spins and coats the meat while tenderizing it and the pressurization actually forces the marinade into the meat. It’s much more advanced than just soaking in the marinade.”
Customers can also find the freshest seafood available at Shopper’s. “We get local fish seven days a week because we have a seafood license that allows us to buy directly from local fishermen,” explains Andre. “For example, June is Salmon season and we can buy the fish for a lower price by buying direct and return that savings to customers.”
Independently owned, and it shows
While the store is certainly diverse, it is more than selection that sets Shopper’s apart from its big-box store competition. “We’re one of the few independents still around — there’s a sense of tradition and Shopper's is a big part of our history here in Santa Cruz,” explains Andre. “There’s a certain nostalgia surrounding our store and it's very community oriented and family friendly. Everyone is just having a good time being here — customers and employees — and it makes for a great atmosphere.”
“We’re a meeting spot where people don’t just come to shop, but to enjoy one another’s company,” continues Andre. “I remember one afternoon when I was by our butcher shop and saw a couple of customers talking. I came back almost an hour later and they were still standing there chatting it up. It’s this kind of home-like environment we’ve tried to build over the years.”
Andre says Shopper’s has a different outlook on the proper way to do business compared to some big-box stores in the same neighborhood. “We’re very mindful about the things we do and how it affects our neighboring businesses,” explains Andre. “We want everyone in our neighborhood to be successful so we don’t sell things that neighboring businesses sell. We see their success as a benefit to our own business and every time we make decisions we think about the impact it will have on everyone in the neighborhood. At the end of the day, we’re all part of the same community and we want what’s best for everyone.”
The Shopper’s tradition of fostering community and being a good neighbor is steeped in years of family history — 77 years to be exact. “My grandfather, Bud Beauregard and his partner, Vincent Williams, bought the store in 1939 as then employees after the original owners had accumulated debt and fell on hard times through the Depression and couldn’t maintain the operation,” recounts Andre.
Bud and Vince bought the market for a dollar and about a $6,000 debt. “They signed their contract on butcher paper and shook hands over a pickle barrel,” tells Andre.
At first, they struggled to make ends meet and half of Bud and Vince’s weekly salaries went straight to the bank to pay off the loan. Difficult times continued as both were called to serve in World War II, but when they returned, the pair began to build Shopper’s into the one-stop grocery store empire it is today. “Since then, we’ve grown nearly every year,” says Andre.
In the ‘70s, Andre’s father, Jim, who worked at the store sorting bottles as a boy, started to take over and run the family business. Over the years, Jim has changed the store inventory, updating the selection of international foods, organic produce and natural foods to better meet customer demand.
Andre has followed in his father’s footsteps, keeping with the family tradition and sourcing new items, but the nostalgic look and feel of Shopper’s remains. “I started out bagging groceries at 11 years old,” recounts Andre. “I worked in the produce and dairy departments throughout high school. I started full time after college and earning my degree in business marketing.”
Forward-thinking changes for the future
Now Andre provides oversight and is influential in building relationships with vendors and product suppliers — always on the lookout for new items to add to Shopper’s extensive line up. “One of the biggest projects I’ve been apart in has been a major upgrade of our complete refrigeration system,” says Andre. “Shopper’s finished this project a couple of years ago, working with a company called Energy Smart Grocer and we were one of the first in California to do a total energy overhaul like this.”
Energy Smart Grocer helped Shopper’s redo the full refrigeration system, complete with state-of-the-art temperature controls and LED lighting. “We now save more than 30 percent in energy costs every year — that’s one of the largest savings in the grocery store sector in California,” adds Andre.
Even as Shopper’s adapts to modern conveniences and technology, Andre says the company’s commitment to exceptional customer service, selection and family atmosphere remain strong and steady. “Shopper's has been and will always be the place where locals can meet and shop for generations,” he says.
The store continues to draw customers from all over — some trekking all the way from San Jose to experience the Shopper’s Corner Inc. difference in colorful, exciting grocery shopping.