On a recent afternoon at the Trancas Market Center, the yet-to-be-opened Vintage Grocers teemed with workers feverishly stocking shelves, a deli counter crew sorting through 100-pound blocks of gourmet cheese and market manager Eric Fuchser beaming at the site of curious passersby dropping their heads in for a sneak peek of the new market and the team of workers he’s employed to get the shopping started.
“I’ve opened a bunch of stores, and usually what they do is they put a security guard out front,” Fuchser said. “I always thought that that was the worst thing you could do. I purposely put my desk by the door for a while.”
And while this is Fuchser’s first time opening a store in Malibu, the employee roster he’s helped put together at Vintage Grocers will probably feature a slew of familiar faces for residents accustomed to the old grocery stores once housed at the Trancas center.
Former employees of HOWS Market, Cooke’s Family Market and Malibu Village Wines have been hired onto Fuchser’s team, which is still growing.
Malibu native Zacarias de la Cruz worked for 12 years at the original Trancas Market and, later, HOWS Market. Now he is in line to work at the third incarnation of a grocer at the Trancas shopping center.
“Everyone in the community is … very excited about the opening of a new grocery store to serve Malibu and the surrounding area,” he said. “Our community is unique, eclectic and always interesting. Vintage Grocers seems like a perfect fit for it.”
Wine sommelier Daryn Berman has a long history in Malibu as well. He oversaw the wine and spirits department at the former Cooke’s Family Market at Point Dume and worked at Malibu Village Wines. His department at Vintage Grocers will offer more than 1,200 selections of wine, including some from Malibu vineyards.
“I look forward to rekindling some old friendships and developing some new ones,” Berman said.
In addition, several students from Malibu High School and Pepperdine University have been hired as part-time staffers. Fuchser said the staff totals 95 employees, but just 30 are full-time.
Another enlisted local contributor is Malibu’s One Gun Ranch, where Vintage Grocers plan on getting a supply of fruits and vegetables.
Since a new grocer was first announced for the long-vacant property at Trancas Canyon Road and the Pacific Coast Highway, community members registered concern about whether the new market would meet the needs of local families and the community at large.
Fuchser said the new market plans to supply everyday groceries for local shoppers, in addition to specialty options such as organic, all-natural, international, Kosher, GMO-free and gluten-free foods. Locally made ice cream, honey, spices, olive oils, soap and skin products will all have a home on the shelves of Vintage Grocers.
The next week leading up to the grand opening, Fuchser said, is likely to be chaotic but exciting. Similar to the college students he’s hired, the manager could be pulling some all-nighters.
“I’m gonna be freaking out for the next week,” he laughed. “Even if I wrap up [preparations] early I’ll still be tossing and turning in bed all night.”
Vintage Grocers opens on Wed., March 5 with contests and giveaways planned throughout the day. The Malibu Chamber of Commerce will be on hand to lead an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m.