New International Grocery Store Opens In Dunn

Tropicana owners hope to fill void left by Sav-A-Lot. 

Many people who were disappointed by its predecessor’s departure, might just have found a replacement.

The owners of the Tropicana Grocery Store, located in the Dunn Plaza where Sav-A-Lot once stood, consider their business to be an international store.

With an inventory of goods as diverse as the name implies, owners Juan, Jasmine and Felipe Gutierrez think they have found a way to fill a void left when Sav-A-Lot abandoned Dunn earlier this year.

Where Save-A-Lot once stood inside the Dunn Plaza is the home of Tropicana Grocery Store. It’s a family-owned, international store with inventory ranging from fresh-cut meat to seafood.

Then throw in the diverse ethnic population of Harnett County and they believe their store can satisfy the needs of all of its broad customer base.

“I think we’re going to serve the community better than what they did,” said Juan Gutierrez. “That’s what I hope to do.”

His wife, Jasmine, agrees and adds how important it is to recognize, from the start, the customers the store serves.

“Save-A-Lot had a lot of good prices,” she said. “The people depended on that and you have a lot of people who walked to come to the store. So, in a way I think (we’re filling the hole they left).”

When you walk through the doors, the first thing you notice is how the new owners have brought a sense of clean and fresh to the store. Juan Gutierrez takes a lot of pride in not only the look, but in the way he intends to treat everyone.

From the clerks behind the register to the meat cutters to the customers, he hopes the feeling of a family atmosphere will continue to thrive and grow as the store moves forward.

“Our specialty is we choose to treat people how we want to be treated,” he said.

Mrs. Gutierrez takes it a step further and says the main reason they are different from other stores is because of the respect and care they share along with the expanded inventory they offer.

“It’s a family-owned business and we like to treat our employees and customers like family,” she said. “We try to carry as much as we can fit in the store to please everybody.”

Co-owner of the new Tropicana Grocery Store in Dunn, Juan Gutierrez, shows off some of the fresh produce on hand all the time at the store. He, his wife, Jasmine, and his cousin, Felipe Gutierrez, have added the Dunn location to their family-owned chain of international grocery stores.

Mrs. Gutierrez admits there are a lot of Hispanic items on the shelves, but those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to inventory.

“We have a large amount of Hispanic items, international items actually,” she said. “There’s a little bit of everything. We have Brazilian things, we have things from Mexico, we have things from Haiti, African stuff, a little bit of everything. If someone asked for something, we try to get it.”

Both take a lot of pride in the fully in-house cut meat department. On the shelf there are only fresh cuts of meat. From steaks to chops to chicken, each item is cut and wrapped in the store.

“When it comes to prices, we try to be as low as we can but still be fresh,” she said. “Our meat comes in three times a week and nothing is pre-packaged. You can order the cuts you like.”

Mrs. Gutierrez admits it can be a little more difficult, but says the effort is well worth the final result.

“It takes longer, you need more employees,” she said. “But it’s better quality and it tastes better.”

The produce section is similar to the meat counters in that local and regional produce are the mainstays of the department.

“We have a large variety of produce that comes in three times a week also,” she said. “They are local and national depending on the season and the item.”

With just a soft opening underway, Tropicana is still growing staff and trying to find the perfect harmony between itself and the community.

“We haven’t had our grand opening yet, we’re trying to work out all the kinks,” Mrs. Gutierrez said. “Hopefully in two or three weeks we’ll have a grand opening ceremony and invite everybody.”

Mrs. Gutierrez emphasizes the doors are open to anyone and there is no specialty to any ethic group. She invites everyone to come in and look around and see how diverse the inventory really has become.

“A lot of people see Tropicana as a Mexican store and it’s not just a Mexican store,” she said. “It’s for everybody and we try to carry things for everybody. And we’re open to suggestions. We have to get to know the area and the people.”

The Tropicana is one of four stores owned by the cousins, making it a true family business.

“It’s a name that Felipe created,” Mrs. Gutierrez said. “It’s his brand and it’s been growing.”

-The Daily Record