Taiwanese grocery store 168 Market opens 2nd Bay Area location

The city’s 168 Market is the second NorCal location to open.

On Saturday, the Taiwanese grocery store 168 Market opened its doors to hundreds of eager community members.

Shoppers arrived at 765 Sereno Drive more than an hour before the store’s 9 a.m. opening time. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and a traditional Chinese lion dance by LionDanceME preceded the store’s opening.

Vallejo’s 168 Market is the chain’s second Bay Area location since its inception in 2006, with the first opening in Fremont in 2020. The supermarket is well-known for its Asian and international produce, snacks, and frozen items.

According to 99 Ranch Market Chairman Jonson Chen, the variety of foods matches the demographics of Central Vallejo, where the store is located. Tawa Supermarket Inc. owns 99 Ranch Market, the largest Asian supermarket chain in the United States, as well as 168 Market.

Rodger Jonson, Jonson’s father, established the first 99 Ranch in 1984 after emigrating from Taiwan. The now-defunct shop was located in Westminster, California, in a predominantly Vietnamese neighborhood. Alice Jonson, the company’s CEO, is Jonson’s sister.

“It’s such a diverse community here,” Jonson said, according to the Times-Herald. “Obviously a strong Filipino base, but also Vietnamese, Japanese, and Cambodian.” It’s perfect for us.”

CJ Polaris of Fairfield went to the store’s grand opening with her husband and father-in-law to buy tea for the colder weather as well as dim sum, small Cantonese dumplings and snack dishes traditionally eaten with tea. Polaris, who works in Vallejo, said her closest Asian markets are Asian Mart in Fairfield and 3J’s Asian Market in Sassoon.

168 Market is located on the site of the former In-Shape gym, which Jonson described as run-down and in need of revitalization. The market applied to Vallejo’s planning department in the fall of 2022, and Jonson said he knows the land owners — Kin properties — from previous market locations.

168 Market’s Vallejo location is one of at least ten food retailers in Central Vallejo, in stark contrast to Island Pacific Seafood Market on Springs Road in South Vallejo. In 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture designated three South Vallejo neighborhoods as food deserts, or areas with limited access to healthy food retail outlets.

The city’s Economic Development Department, according to Planning & Development Services Director Christina Ratcliffe, is actively engaging with food retail outlets to bring to South Vallejo. That department, she said, is in contract negotiations with a grocery chain — Ratcliffe declined to say which chain the city is corresponding with.

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