Stater Bros. To Close Two Of Its Landmark Supermarkets In Fontana & Colton

Two iconic Stater Bros. markets in Colton and Fontana will close in June.
The Stater Bros. store at 9954 Sierra Avenue in Fontana is scheduled to close June 4 and the store at 1904 North Rancho Avenue in Colton will shutter on June 18.
Both are being closed as the consequence of expired leases, according to company spokesman Jonathan Lieu.
Both stores were key locations for the Stater Bros. corporate chain, which originated in San Bernardino County.
Stater Bros, founded in Yucaipa in 1936 by Cleo and Leo Stater, was among the first of what are considered modern grocery stores in the country, following upon the model first employed by Fontana-based Crawford Stores during the Depression-era, which allowed customers to access available products on their own without the constant assistance of store clerks, using at first in-store baskets and in subsequent decades, shopping carts.As Staters grew to include other stores in San Bernardino County – one in Redlands in 1937, another in Bloomington in 1938, one in Colton in late 1938 and one in Fontana, which was in direct competition with one of the Crawford stores, in 1939 – Stater Bros was transforming toward what were the forerunners of today’s supermarkets.
Jack H. Brown was a deputy sheriff who served as a senior investigator for and handled a number of spectacular cases on behalf of three successive San Bernardino County sheriffs in the 1920s and 1930s – Walter A. Shay, Ernest T. Shay and Emmett L. Shay. His son, Jack Brown became a luminary in the grocery business, starting at the age of 12 in 1950, when he landed a job as a box boy at Berk’s Market Spot in San Bernardino to assist his widowed mother in making ends meet after his father’s death. Following a stint in the Navy, serving on board ships in the Pacific during the early stages of the Viet Nam War, Jack Brown re-immersed himself into the corporate world of grocery chains, rising to become a corporate vice president with Marsh Supermarkets, Inc. and then president and CEO of Pantry Markets.
In 1981, he was named the president and CEO of Stater Bros., then owned by Petrolane, Inc. In 1983, after creating La Cadena Investments, Brown leveraged La Cadena’s purchase of Stater Bros. from Petrolane.
Under Brown’s guidance, Stater Bros. continued to operate out of its established warehouse in southeast Colton, proximate to the city limits with Grand Terrace, withstood a hostile takeover bid in 1986 and 1987 and pressed forward with expanding through the creation of more and more locations.
In 1988, the chain opened its 100th store. Virtually all 100 of those had replicated, with only minor deviations, the 25,000-square-foot model floor plan of the Riverside store which had been built in 1948. That same year the chain reached a sales volume in excess of $1 billion. By 1989, Stater Bros. employed more than 7,000, over 4,000 of whom worked in San Bernardino County.
In 1997, Brown solidified his hold on Stater Bros when La Cadena Investments became the sole stockholder of Stater Bros.
In the early 2000s, Brown committed to a new floor plan for any newly built stores, expanding the square footage under roof by 52 percent to 43,000 square feet and including bakeries and delicatessens.
In 2004, Stater Bros. pulled up its corporate stakes in Colton and relocated its headquarters and warehousing facilities to a 200-acre site on the former Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino.
In 2005, Stater Bros logged its first showing on Forbes Fortune 500 list at Number 493.
At the time of Brown’s death in 2016, Stater Bros was operating 168 supermarkets.
Today, Stater Bros. is the largest private sector employer headquartered in San Bernardino County, with 170 stores and 18,000 employees throughout Southern California.
The Fontana store, which is across the street from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, is one of the oldest locations in the Stater Bros. chain, having opened there in 1954. The Colton store opened in 1979.
According to Lieu, the company is going to be able to effectuate the closures at both locations without any layoffs, with all employees being offered jobs at different stores.
The closures will leave Colton with two Stater Bros. stores, one on Valley Boulevard and one on Washington Street, and another proximate to its trade area on Foothill Boulevard in South Rialto.
There are at present four other Stater Bros. stores in Fontana, at 8228 Sierra Avenue, 18140 Arrow Boulevard, 15222 Summit Avenue, and 11225 Sierra Avenue. The company is planning on opening another store in Fontana in 2024.
-Mark Gutglueck

Leave a Reply