Nugget Markets

Nugget Markets, Inc.
Industry Retail (Grocery)
Founded 1926
Headquarters Woodland, California
Number of locations
Key people
Gene Stille, Chairman
Eric Stille, CEO/President
Chris Carpenter, COO/Vice-President
Products Grocery
Revenue 221 million USD (2004)
Number of employees
The popular Nugget Market on East Covell Blvd. in Davis, California

Nugget Markets is a family-owned upscale supermarket chain operating within the greater Sacramento metropolitan area. It is headquartered in Woodland, California. As of October 2009, the company operates nine of its flagship Nugget-brand stores, as well as three Food 4 Less franchises.


In 1926, Nugget Market opened its first store in Woodland, California by the father-and-son team of William and Mack Stille. Mack Stille ran most of the day-to-day operations and introduced many unconventional policies to the store, such as incorporating meat departments, installing refrigerated produce cases and employing checkout stands equipped with power belts. Their decision to provide employees with wage and benefit packages that were unusually high for the industry gained them notoriety for the time.

In the late 1970s, under the leadership of Mack's son, Gene, and grandson, Eric, the company began its expansion outside the local Woodland community by opening a Nugget store in neighboring Davis. In 1984, Nugget acquired a pair of Sacramento Alpha Beta grocery stores and converted them into Nuggets, one in the Greenhaven-Pocket neighborhood, the other in Foothill Farms on hillsdale blvd. All Alpha Beta associates were invited to join the company, and many continue to work with Nugget today. In the early 90s, Nugget opened its first Food 4 Less franchise in Vallejo, California.

In the late 1990s, Nugget developed their new Fresh to Market concept, pairing European-style open-air marketing with higher-end products and specialty departments, such as their Cheese Concierge, Pastry Chefs in a full-range Bakery, Full-Service Kitchen, Healthy Living Department, dedicated Seafood butcher and a Juice & Espresso Bar.

In 2001, the company built its first Fresh to Market store in Vacaville's Browns Valley Marketplace and then at Oak Tree Plaza in East Davis.

In 2008, Nugget sold its in-store pharmacies to Longs Drugs.


Unique to Nugget Markets is their architectural feature at the entrance of new stores, which include a tower and/or a robed woman with a basket of food above her head. The robed woman, in particular, became the corporate logo and mascot of the company.

"Price Challenge"

Since 1926 Nugget Markets has allowed their customers to pick up price comparison-survey at their stores. With this form, they can survey prices on up to 25 items between Nugget and one conventional competitor. Nugget claims to win at least 80% of item-to-item price comparisons with other full-service markets. The results of their customer's surveys is aggregated and displayed on a scoreboard within their Nugget Market stores.

Points of Difference

Nugget continues to struggle against its image as an exclusive upscale grocer due to its specialty products and upscale store decor. Nugget identifies dominant local grocery chain Raley's & Bel-Air, as well as national chains Safeway and Whole Foods, as its primary competition.

To differentiate themselves from the local competition, Nugget Markets are the major regional distributor of several high quality specialty brands, such as Boars Head Deli Meats, Harris Ranch Beef, and Equator Coffees. Nugget supports local produce growers with its partnership with NorCal Produce of West Sacramento, California. Signs throughout their stores tout these partnerships and the quality of the products as key points of difference to shop at Nugget.

Nugget has also continued its stance on provided quality employee benefits, with wages and benefits meeting or exceeding those of its competition. Strong benefits coupled with a positive work environment and responsive leadership have allowed Nugget to remain a union-free workplace. Fortune has recognized Nugget Markets for the past three years as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. In 2008, the company placed 12th,[1] in 2009, Nugget reached the No. 10 spot,[2] and in 2010, they moved up to number 5, placing just behind Google.[3]

Nugget continues its push to open new stores in the Sacramento and North Bay regions. Recently opened locations are in Elk Grove and El Dorado Hills. There are also tentative plans for Nugget to build a unique, significantly smaller size store under the K Street Mall revitalization proposal of Hank Fischer/Evergreen Developments. The K Street location would likely be half the size of a traditional Nugget store and, given the nature of the proposal, more focused on their Full Service Kitchen, Bakery, and Juice Bar.[4]

Vallejo store controversy

In 2003, Nugget began plans to open a Nugget in Vallejo. The company sought assurances from the city that a supercenter store would not enter Vallejo.

In 2005, Wal-Mart made clear its intention to build a Supercenter in the White Slough neighborhood, on the location of a former K-Mart. Given the proximity of the proposed Supercenter to Nuggets' location in American Canyon, as well as the guidelines of the neighborhood plan preventing the construction of a store of this type, the plans for the Nugget in Vallejo continued. However, Eric Stille made clear to the Vallejo City Council that the approval of the Vallejo Supercenter Wal-Mart would effectively mean the end of the Vallejo Nugget.

In November 2006, with construction underway at the Vallejo Nugget location, Stille announced the company would no longer build a Nugget in Vallejo, citing a City Council indecisiveness vote on whether to approve the Vallejo Supercenter Wal-Mart.

Stille's actions and comments that the construction of a Vallejo Supercenter Wal-Mart would result in not enough grocery dollars in Vallejo to make a Nugget financially feasible resulted in a backlash from the city residents. Supporters of the Vallejo Nugget cited the lack of upscale grocery options in the city, and the need to travel to the East Bay or up to the Vacaville Nugget for gourmet goods. Opponents derided Stille's actions as unwarranted, claiming that Nugget feared that its customer service or products would not be good enough for Vallejo consumers. Others accused the Nugget of trying to blackmail the city in order to maintain their virtual monopoly on discount grocery goods in Vallejo.[5]


In 2016, Nugget Markets was ranked #13 on Fortune's list of "Best Companies to Work For".[6]


Active Nugget Market stores

Active Food-4-Less warehouses

Defunct stores

Unfinished stores


  1. "100 Best Companies to Work For 2007: Full List". CNN. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  2. "100 Best Companies to Work For 2009: Full List". CNN. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  3. "100 Best Companies to Work For 2010: Full List". CNN. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  4. "City of Sacramento - K Street Proposals" (PDF). May 2005. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  5. Johnson, Kelly (May 6, 2005). "Nugget tells Vallejo to ban super Wal-Marts". Sacramento Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  6. "Nugget Market". Fortune. 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
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