Customers packed the aisles on the first day of business for Vallarta Supermarket in the former K-Mart Store. (Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

Hundreds of people lined up outside the new Vallarta Supermarket Wednesday morning, hoping to be one of the first 300 inside to score a free bag of groceries and to see the gleaming, 55,000 square foot store.

But even for those that missed that prize, there were free food booths set up outside, where employees were giving away free merchandise, and a folklorico dance performance before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Before that happened, company officials presented $1,000 checks to Calabasas Elementary, Lakeview Middle and Watsonville High schools.

The store features an in-house tortillaria, a panaderia or bakery, a large flower section including a cold case packed with floral arrangements, a massive produce department, an herbs and spices section, a carniceria, or meat department, a large restaurant with seating, a fish department, a hot food Take Away station, seven checkout stations and several self checkout counters.

Workers make fresh tortillas in the store’s tortilleria. (Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

The location in Watsonville marks the 55th for the Vallarta Supermarkets company, with other locations in Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare, Orange, Monterey and Fresno, and more than 8,000 employees. 

“We are extremely excited to expand into Santa Cruz County with Watsonville,” said Chief Operating Officer Cesar Gonzalez. “We are looking forward to serving the community and providing new jobs in the area. As with all our Vallarta Supermarkets locations, we are dedicated to providing quality products and delivering exceptional customer service while fostering community growth and well-being.”

Vallarta Supermarket features sprawling aisles of goods. (Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

On Thursday Margarita Zambrano of Santa Cruz said she stopped by to fetch groceries.

“I love it,” she said. “They have everything. I’ve been hearing about it coming to Watsonville. There are six girls in the office where I work and we’ve all been talking about it. The store looks really nice.”

Vallarta Market is located at 1702 Freedom Blvd. in Watsonville. For information about Vallarta Supermarkets, visit

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


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