Employee-owned discount grocer WinCo opened Thursday at San Marcos

WinCo Foods, San Marcos.

Not just another discount supermarket, but employee-owned WinCo Foods opened at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 at Creekside Marketplace, 555 Grand Avenue, San Marcos. That would be the first WinCo discount grocery store in San Diego County .

In a tale of two Creekside Marketplace openings, Hobby Lobby opened last month next to the new WinCo. The two retailers were expected to bring some fresh blood to the city-owned shopping complex that passes for the gateway into San Marcos founding father Jim Eubank’s vision of a downtown San Marcos, the center of North San Diego County.

The two stores took over the old Lowe’s home improvement store space. Lowe’s sadly departed the space in 2013. It anchored that key shopping area just off Highway 78 at San Marcos Boulevard for just over a decade.

Creekside was a $3.4 million proposition for city coffers last year in the form of rent revenues. Leases with Hobby Lobby and WinCo call for about $1.9 million in annual revenue. This represents glad tidings for the city considering Lowe’s paid $834,000 annually in rent.

Inside Winco Foods.

Inside Winco Foods.

City officials attributed to the windfall rent as partially attributable to an improved real estate market. Lowe’s had negotiated its lease in 2003. The additional rent also came courtesy of the city;s decision to buy the building from Lowe’s. The home fixings store sold the building to San Marcos for $4.5 million as part of its departure scenario. WinCo usually owns its own building, but is renting in this case. About 10percent of winCos are rentals.

Hobby Lobby is a controversial tenant to be sure. The privately-held, family owned company got a lot of ink last year when it sued the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, provisions mandating employers reimburse contraceptive costs for women covered by the health plan.

The family owning Hobby Lobby said their religious beliefs precluded that funding. The sharply divided Supreme Court agreed with that position in June 2014.

Hobby Lobby has 666 stores, including 31 in California. The San Marcos store is 60,000-square feet. The chain also has a store at La Mesa and plans to open one at Chula Vista.

WinCo, based at Boise, Idaho, has been on an expansion boom lately. It’s an employee-owned company founded in 1967 as Waremart. No credit cards allowed, although debit cards are OK. Stores remain open 24 hours. The San Marcos site was expected to employ 165 people. Workers qualify for stock options after a year of employment.

Wald down any aisle.

Wald down any aisle.

The new store is 91,500-square-feet and the company’s first in San Diego county. Temecula also features a WinCo. The “Supermarket Low Price Leader” now has stores in Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Arizona and Texas. Kerrie Olsen, a 30-year retail employee with the last three years at WinCo, was named WinCo store manager.