The Renovated Parkmoor FoodMaxx Store

FoodMaxx Grocery StoreAfter the Parkmoor post office moved around the corner and a Savers Thrift Store opened, that wasn’t the only major change at the Parkmoor Plaza shopping center this summer. FoodMaxx underwent a major renovation that dramatically improved the store, including new shelving, an open floor layout and self-checkout stands.

The biggest change was eliminating the herding pattern that forced customers to go from the front entrance through the produce department along the left wall, the meat department along the back wall, and into the rest of the store from the right wall. I don’t think that floor layout ever made sense even when the store was previously known as Food-4-Less. With the separate entryways consolidated into a new entryway at the front center of the store, you have access to the entire store when walking in. I still find it difficult after 20 years of shopping there not to follow the old herding pattern.

The warehouse-style shelving was replaced by what I like call to Safeway-style shelving, which is a uniform beige shelving at average height. The new floor layout has wider aisles between the shelves and a central aisle going straight down the middle. The downside is fewer shelves with a smaller product selection (some cut in half). The produce department was expanded to include organic fruits, vegetables and sushi.

All the checkout stands were replaced by new stands that are slimmer, sleeker and modern looking. Like the old floor plan being abolished, you have to get used to the new orientation of the stands with the clerk on your right instead of your left. The stands have padded knee switches to move the conveyor belt when you bag your own groceries (that haven’t changed). I can’t help but notice that there are fewer stands in a smaller space than before. I’m no longer seeing familiar faces, which leaves me to wonder if they retired or were laid off to pay for the new improvements.

The store now has four self-checkout stands near the exit. The computer voice for these machines are identical to the self-checkout stands at Safeway, making me wonder if FoodMaxx bought everything from a Safeway warehouse fire sale. The machines behave the same way except the voice doesn’t ask for your Safeway discount card and dispenses cash in $10 USD bills instead of $20 USD bills (useful if you want to spend less cash at other stores).

The self-checkout stands are available during daylight hours and are blocked off a night to prevent people from running out the door without paying. Although that doesn’t prevent anyone from surreptitiously walking out the entrance with a bottle of vodka, which happened one night when a teenaged girl brushed past me.

The one thing that haven’t changed despite all the new improvements is the long lines. If you’re in a hurry to shop, FoodMaxx is the last place to be shopping at. It’ll be interesting to see if the lines will snake down the central aisle during the holiday season.

The New Parkmoor Savers Thrift Store

Savers Thrift StoreAfter the post office moved around the corner for a much smaller storefront, the vacated interior was gutted out this summer to make way for a new Savers Thrift Store. I was surprised to see the parking lot full and people lining up to enter the store during the grand opening weekend. The only time the Parkmoor Plaza shopping center ever gotten busy was when the Harley-Davidson dealership hosts an event next door that overwhelms the surrounding parking lots with motorcycles and leather-clad bikers.

My worst fear about the new store was that the floor layout would be narrow and cramped like the Big Lots! store at the opposite end of the shopping center. Although the floor was packed with books, household items and clothing, the store appeared much bigger inside. The donation center took up the back half of the store. If you want to donate stuff, there are red bins for dropping off stuff during business hours at the side entrance of the building.

The only thing that caught my interest was the shelves of paperback books that you can see through the windows from outside the store. If you’re into fantasy and science fiction, like the really old stuff that most bookstores don’t carry, browsing these shelves to find something unexpected will be a pure pleasure in. Unless the spines are color-coordinated (i.e., plain white for a romance series), nothing is sorted in any particular order. Prices are $1.99 USD to 2.99 USD, with the cover price of $7.49 USD being the dividing line between prices. If you buy four books, the fifth book is free. A great deal if you’re a reader.

When the billboard went up announcing the new store, I was quite certain I haven’t heard of Savers before. I did shopped at the old location on the corner of Bascom Avenue and Stevens Creek Boulevard, which is being gutted out and has a “for lease” sign up. Looks like the new store has doubled the floor space from the old store..

As brand new Christian in the campus ministry in 1992 (20 years ago!), the church was having a great banquet dinner in the basement of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis and I needed some fancy threads for my date. With the help of the campus brothers, we found an ill-fitting dress coat and a holey pair of slacks for $12 USD. With my slicked back hair, I looked somewhat decent for a former “pagan of pagans” (my nickname before I became Christian). My date looked splendid in her beautiful emerald green grown, outshining the other campus sisters and making me look fabulous as well.

I doubt I’ll be shopping at Savers on a regular basis. I may become a regular donor as I sort through, organized and discard stuff from my cluttered life. I’ve already donated three paper bags worth of old clothes and shoes. Savers appears to be a much better fit for the community than the post office as evident by the now busy parking lot.

Moving The Parkmoor Post Office Around The Corner

The Old Parkmoor Post Office (Silicon Valley)
Side view of the old U.S.P.S. Parkmoor post office.

When I become serious as a writer in 2006, I opened a P.O. box at the Parkmoor post office at Meridian and Parkmoor Avenues in San Jose, CA. Every six weeks I would drop off a dozen manila envelopes containing my short story manuscripts and picked up more postage for the next round of submissions. With 50 manuscripts in circulation at any given time, this was my regular routine. As email submissions became more common and my short stories were published more frequently over the last few years, I no longer needed an expenisve P.O. box for what little snail mail I was getting.

As the Internet helped me save money on office supplies and postage, these same trends were causing the United States Postal Service to lose money on declining mail volume.

The postal service consolidated mail sorting operations to cut costs last year. The Parkmoor station no longer sorted mail for the 95128 zip code, no longer needed a fleet of mail trucks in the fenced off parking lot, and no longer needed 30,000 square feet. If you have to pick up your mail, you have to go to the Willow Glen post office a few miles down the street on Meridian Avenue. The Moorpark post office recently moved into a 3,000 square feet store front in a little strip mall around the corner.

A billboard went up at the front of the old post office to announce that Savers, a thrift store, was now hiring, the chain link fence around the side parking lot went down, and construction crews start gutting out the inside of the old post office. FoodMaxx also started renovating the inside of their store, and a bigger sign will replace the old one above the entrance outside. Re-opening the side parking lot to the general public will absorb the overflow of motorcyclists when the Harley-Davidson store next door has its summer events.

The new Parkmoor post office has limited parking in front, a walk up mailbox that you can’t drive past to drop off mail, and a narrow hallway for the lobby and P.O. boxes. The retail store is similar to those popping up at the shopping malls, with enough space for a pair of retail associates (i.e., postal clerks) behind the counter and no space in front of the counter for customers. The holiday shipping rush will be pure madness as the lines will snake around the strip mall and into the parking lot.

As the postal service continues to cut cost, customer service continues to get cut as well. If I was looking for a new P.O. box, I would use the postal service website to shop around for the best price—$15 USD to $28 USD for three months for the smallest box—at a post office that wasn’t located inside a sardine can. The new Parkmoor post office would be at the bottom of my list.