Big game, big business

STOCKING UP Martin Espinosa checks produce at Gilroy’s Nob Hill Foods, where he has worked for 30 years.

At Nob Hill Foods grocery store in Gilroy, Super Bowl weekend means big holiday business even when a local team isn’t playing. There was a steady rush of customers all last weekend, and managers of other local stores agreed.

“It’s not as big as Christmas, but it’s a big shopping day for food and beer,” Nob Hill General Manager Vito Mercado said. “From the moment we open on Sunday, we start to get really busy after the first mass, and up until kickoff we get pretty slammed. When the game starts, we still have some customers, but it won’t be as heavy. Sunday as it is, is one of the busiest days of the week anyway but having the Super Bowl adds a lot to our business.”

Like any other holiday, Mercado scheduled extra help to manage the buying blitz that ran from the Saturday before the game right up until kickoff at 3:30pm.

“With the great weather we’re having it’s going to drive even more business,” Mercado said. “It’s like summer so we’re going to sell a lot more tri-tip, sausage, hot dogs and beer.”

By beer, he means, lots and lots of beer.

“We typically sell several hundred cases of beer like 30 packs of Coors,” Mercado said. “And with all the microbrews that are coming to the area, we’ll sell a lot of craft beers too.”

Mercado can expect to sell lots of tortilla chips, salsa, tomatoes, french bread and hundreds of avocados to be part of appetizer platters.  

As local football fans are aware, the 49ers and Raiders fell woefully short of the playoffs this year and naturally when one of the area’s local teams go deep in the playoffs, more fans have viewing parties. Even if the game doesn’t have a lot of local interest, the Super Bowl is a cultural phenomenon and often it’s the only game many people will watch all year. And of course, there are the commercials.

“When the local teams are in, it’s great for all of us on the West Coast,” Mercado says. “Even when the Giants are in the playoffs business picks up. Anytime there’s a local team in the big game it really drives business. We need to do our best to capture the dollar.”

When the day is over grocery store workers may take a sigh of relief, but it won’t last long. There’s more work to come.

“Valentines is right after, so it’s a quick turnaround from beer, chips, and sausage, to roses chocolate and wine,” Mercado said. “That’s the fun part; our business turns quickly.”