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Super88 is Dead... Long Live CMart?

They are now using CMart Bags at the Allston Super88... was too lazy to find out more.

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  1. Thanks for your copy of the WSJ. ;)

    1. OH my - I haven't been to the Malden store since last week. Is that gone too?
      Will I be able to find everything I need at the CMart??

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        That may explain why the inventory at Malden is declining so much. I had no idea.

        1. re: Karl S

          I know - and the store looked as if it hadn't been cleaned in days.

      2. Someone emailed me about this recently--looks like the ones in Quincy and Chinatown will be gone soon, if not already.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hiddenboston

          Anyone know about the Malden location?

          1. re: hiddenboston

            The Essex St. Super 88 Market is currently "closed for renovations," although not much was happening the last couple of times I walked by. All of the other operations in the same building were still open, but I don't know if they have anything to do with the market.

            Given the proximity to C-Mart, if they have been sold they may not reopen - but that's just speculation.

          2. Do you think Allston will stay open? I depend on that store and was planning on going there this weekend. Do they still have stuff or are the shelves empty?

            3 Replies
            1. re: macadamianut

              Yes, probably. The shelves aren't super well-stocked, a majority of the freezer cases are empty, but there are still dumplings galore (stuffed toward the side).

                1. re: SaraASR

                  I ate in the food court two days ago and it was busy as usual.

              1. What happened to Super 88?

                1. Yeah,,,, WHAT HAPPENED?

                  Any real information?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    The facts:

                    * Shelves are sparse - frozen food freezers are completely empty in the Allston location
                    * Customers spotted carrying C-Mart plastic bags
                    * Food court still bustling (had bulgogi dukbuki from Misono yesterday)
                    * Yo Berry is still so good, because it's so hood

                    1. re: Prav

                      Yeah, I've reported myself on the lack of product/sparse shelves/removed shelving/dearth of customers at the South Bay location.

                      Where is all the "closing" information coming from?

                      1. re: Prav

                        whew, i was worried there for a moment--it's nice to know that the hoodness (and hence goodness) of the most ridiculous frozen yogurt in town has not taken a hit from the corporate shake up.

                    2. I can't imagine that this is what killed them, but here is an article from the Boston Business Journal:

                      Unlucky Break for Super 88: Supermarket chain pays back pay and penaltiesBoston Business Journal - by Naomi R. Kooker Boston Business Journal
                      Print Email Reprints RSS Feeds Add to Del.icio.us Digg This CommentsSuper 88 Supermarkets has agreed to pay restitution to hundreds of employees and a fine to the state to settle allegations it violated wage and hour laws.

                      Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced Friday it has reached an agreement with the local Asian supermarket chain and its corporate officers, George Luu, age 35, of Brookline, and Peter Luu, age 56, of Malden. The company allegedly failed to pay over-time, holiday and Sunday pay required by law.

                      Under the agreement, Super 88 agreed to pay $175,000 to more than 300 current and former employees, along with a fine of $25,000 to the state.

                      The AG’s office began an investigation in March of 2007 after receiving complaints from former Super 88 employees alleging failure to properly pay employees. An audit of the payroll records revealed that Super 88 had failed to pay numerous employees the proper minimum wage for the first four months of 2007, as well as failed to pay overtime, Sunday and holiday pay from June 2006 through late January 2008. Employees in each of the company’s six supermarkets were owed wages; two of the supermarkets are located in downtown Boston and the other supermarkets are located in Allston, Dorchester, Malden and Quincy.

                      The state requires employers pay employees the minimum wage of $8 per hour as of Jan. 1, 2008, as well as time-and-a-half for any hours over 40 they work every week.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: kate used to be 50

                        I am pretty sure the $200K fine is not what killed them because that's the the equilavent of pocket change to us. I am hypothesizing that the tainted milk, tainted toy, tainted drug, tainted petfood, tainted toothpaste, tainted bun, tainted seafood scandals are scaring people from buying imported products of certain origin. It's not their fault but that is the majority of what is on their shelves, unfortunately.

                        1. re: joebloe

                          Nonsense. The traffic in the store did not decrease. Pretty sure they are just folding the business because it is either A) not profitable or B) they don't want to pay the fine.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            The traffic in the South Bay store certainly has decreased. I go there all the time.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              the rumor that has been mentioned, and I think here in chowhound, is that
                              the family that owns Super 88 opened a casino in Vietnam..then there are
                              diverging stories:

                              1. The casino business didn't do well, they lost all their money, hence they are
                              closing up Super 88.
                              2. The casino business did gangbusters, so they're not interested in staying
                              in the grocery biz.

                              I am just glad it looks like CMart is taking over; I love the convenience of the
                              Allston store (to where I live), in addition to the food court.

                              1. re: amatto

                                Wow, these are really sounding far-fetched! Casinos? Gangs? Scandals?

                                  1. re: Prav

                                    Er..just in case anyone is not familiar with the term:

                                    gang·bus·ter (gngbstr)
                                    adj. also gangbusters
                                    Extremely successful: an experiment yielding gangbuster results; a
                                    profitable, gangbusters quarter.

                                    1. re: amatto

                                      I learn something new every day

                                  2. re: amatto

                                    Glad that CMart is taking over? Just another generic grocery store? Where am I going to buy my galangal and pig's feet from now on?!?

                                    1. re: kenjigoodeater

                                      I don't think amatto meant that CMart specifically is good, just that (s)he's glad the Allston store isn't closing down altogether.

                                  3. re: StriperGuy

                                    not that much of 88's stuff is actually made in China mainland, by the way, so the scares have nothing to do with it.

                                    also, the traffic did decrease, but this is a result of them sucking, not a result of scares. i stopped going to super 88 after i couldn't find any more peanut oil, fresh enough vegetables, and various other relatively basic things. i go to c-mart now, their selection sucks for snacks and sichuan-related sauces, but at least the rest of the stuff is allright.

                                    1. re: yuanzhoulv

                                      Where is a good Boston market for Sichuan sauces and the like?

                                        1. re: Allstonian

                                          Allstonian: 金门超市 (Kamman Food) for all your Sichuan needs ... 郫县豆瓣,碎米芽菜,花椒,辣油,。。。

                                        2. re: yuanzhoulv

                                          Since Super88 offered a fairly diverse range of pan-Asia products, there was a fair amount of products not from Mainland China, but if you look at the Chinese products, almost all of it was. Chinese products still probably covered 50% of their inventory.

                                          1. re: kobuta

                                            If you go to the "Japanese Snacks" section, quite a few of the snacks have a new paper ingredient/nutrient/"MADE IN JAPAN" label glued on to cover the expiration date and "not from Japan" countries of origin. Go rip one off and discover the truth about the tainted labels. I I I haven't been back there ever since.

                                  4. Well, I was i today, and walked out after waiting for 1o minutes to get served at the fish counter. The fish didn't look that promising, anyway, after the two women in front of me in line bought all the mackarel. Then, another woman cut in line, and they had no good fish, so I left. Hardly anyone working, even a Chinese customer in front of me was exasperated. OTOH, they were putting up a new awning over the door when I was there. If C-Mart is taking over, they haven't brought any product yet...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: galleygirl

                                      I stopped into the Malden Super 88 Tuesday and noticed the same things all the posters have. I have no inside information, but I asked a produce stocker why the selections had diminished and the reply was "the owners need to save money." Not a good formula for success, methinks.

                                      1. Allston, Dorchester, and Malden are staying open... so says an article in this morning's Globe:

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Gio

                                          And Malden is going to be expanded. The shelves are bare for now as they expect to absorb the inventories of the closing stores.

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Barmy and I shopped in the Allston Super 88 this afternoon, and things looked better than they have in quite some time. Sauces such as the Lee Kum Kee line are well-stocked at last, and they had plenty of peanut oil on the shelf.

                                            BTW, we got our purchase packed in a plain tan plastic bag, with neither a Super 88 NOR a C Mart logo.

                                          2. When is the Korean chain H Mart going to open in Burlington????? It sounds promising. 51,000 sq. ft and they offer organic products. I wonder how it compares to Mitsuwa?


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: robertlf

                                              Still no action at the site.
                                              Info at the above link gives a street address which is the back/freight entrance to the building. I drove around the place this afternoon and it was closed up tight. OK, it's Sunday, but there has been no sign yet of anything happening, not even a "coming soon" banner.

                                            2. For the record, the Chinese market in the Belmont/Watertown Party Favors strip is closed. I hadn't been since they were closed for renovations in summer '07 (which seemed to be true, there were trades vans out front); for all I know they never reopened. Pity, it was a nice store.

                                              1. I stopped into the CMart near South Station one day and was not impressed. Can you tell me the good things you have found with this chain?

                                                1. Went to Allson Super 88 today - and my jaw just dropped. Supposedly renovating, and inventory is half-wiped out (frozen food section cut in half, upper shelves empty, meat counter closed, etc). No timeline spotted, so keeping my fingers crossed that it's really renovations.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: meuri

                                                    Went by the Quincy store today and it was closed.
                                                    BTW Ming's is owned by the same guy that owns or owned Super 88.

                                                    1. re: janzy

                                                      Really? That is amazing, especially since the when 88 near the Herald was up and running there was definitely a difference in items carried, and in pricing.

                                                      Was at Ming's this past weekend, and it seemed pretty much the same as always.

                                                      1. re: janzy

                                                        I wouldn't put money on it. But I don't think that Ming's and 88 have the same owners. I think 88 had 6 stores - Allston, Malden, Dorchester, Herald St, C-town and Quincy. The latter three are closed and many of the workers from the open stores have been laid off.

                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          I'm pretty certain they're different owners as well. Remember that Ming's used to be located on Essex St, right next to Cheng Kwong - it would be silly to have two competing supermarkets right next to each other. Ming's moved to their current location only after the fire had destroyed the building on Essex where they were housed.

                                                    2. Wow - haven't been out to the Malden Super 88 for quiet awhile.

                                                      It's sad to see changes like this - we have a few small places here in Lynn (there are two good ones, btw, on Western Ave), but I would take the drive to Malden (used to live there) when I needed to stock up.

                                                      Whatever the reason, I'm hoping they will do better in the current economic atmosphere - and here's to my fellow Chowhounds keeping us on top of chow news around here!

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: threedogs

                                                        The malden store was completely bare last week. My husband went to buy our usual week's worth of asian groceries and only came home with a bag of lobster and some crackers. I should have hit him up to talk to the cashier. We ended up going to Quincy's Kam Man center over the weekend (it seems like business is way up there the BBQ and bakery closed early b/c they ran out of food). I really hope Malden restocks and stays open b/c our other local choice is Lynn which isn't sufficient for food shopping.
                                                        I can't wait for H-mart. We went to one while on vacation it was clean and catered to the Asian-American crowd (I hate doing two separate shopping trips one for asian goods, one for american food). Loved the food court too.

                                                        1. re: noodlely

                                                          Allston Super88 was in rough shape yesterday. No kimchee or miso in the fridge section half the freezer section empty.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                            This slow death thing is killing me! Rebirth already!

                                                              1. re: Prav

                                                                We were in at the Allston location over the weekend for just a small shopping, and although it's true that some aisles (e.g., frozen foods, baked items) were pretty much gone for the time being, I was actually reasonably successful finding pantry supplies-- the produce mostly looked good, soy sauce etc. were there, and there were perhaps even more filipino items than usual. (The usual selection of bagoong, sardines, etc., and seemingly a huge new shipment of amazingly non-dusty banana ketchup bottles! And we got two big packages of frozen longaniza on sale-- hmmmmm, hopefully not "discontinued item" sale, come to think of it!! :S ) A lot of stuff was rearranged, but we were pleasantly surprised by how few things on the list we couldn't find. Prices did strike me as a bit higher than in the past, but maybe I have just recently gotten reset to California expectations, so I'm not sure how many things that surprised me were genuine increases. For sure a few were, though...
                                                                I don't usually look for things like Korean or Japanese items like kimchi or miso there, so I wouldn't have necessarily noticed if they were low on items that aren't Chinese or SE Asian. Things had generally been so sparse that I had been stopping by CMart lately, but based on this trip, I may risk making the trip to the Super 88 more regularly again.

                                                                The traffic in the food court did seem subdued compared to a normal Saturday, though...

                                                                1. re: another_adam

                                                                  It's been a couple of weeks since I last patronized the Allston 88, but I have to say, I'm not going back until *something* happens there. The couple of things I was looking for (curry powder in "normal" size not restaurant-owner size; or name brand bamboo shoots in chili oil) were all unavailable. I ended up buying a jar of bamboo shoots from a brand I've never heard of, and I can tell you it is inedible and I had to throw the whole jar out. I don't know if it's just a bad brand, or if that jar has been sitting on the shelf for years and past its prime. There's NO expiration date.

                                                                  Anyway, does ANYONE know when/what is going on with the Allston Super 88? The suspense is killing me...

                                                                  1. re: y2000k

                                                                    I wonder if the owners/operators are even aware that there's this much speculatory buzz about what's going on with them!

                                                            1. re: noodlely

                                                              I have done ok with other markets in Malden, for example the Southeast Aisian mkt just South of Rt 60 on Main St. It doesn't have the selection the Super88 did (and no fish counter, bakery, bbq, etc), but the two can supplement themselves which I have taken to doing recently. There also is the (Chinese?) bakery on Main closer to where Salem starts, although more limited on savory offerings than Super88. Depending on which direction you are coming from China Merchandise in Burlington (not much further than H-mart), Reliable in Union Sq... and other smaller stores in Everett/Malden are all closer than Kam Man. galangatron likely would have some other suggestions in Revere and certainly Lynn.

                                                              BTW Chin Enterprises the restaurant supply store at Beach and Harrison seemed to also have a really depleted stock right now, when I asked about something which they didn't have and followed up about whether I should try back they said "maybe in two months." C-mart on the other hand was doing a really strong business and their fish counter in particular was bustling.

                                                              1. re: noodlely

                                                                Well, Malden was more stocked today than it was 2 weeks ago. They've reconfigured some areas. It looks like they are still restocking.

                                                            2. I spent a lovely afternoon at KAM MAN the other day, among fully stocked shelves and plenty of variety.

                                                              Sorry to say, but I doubt I'll be hitting the 88 much now.

                                                              1. What are my options for shopping now if I don't want to go to Allston Super 88? I live in Waltham and I buy Chinese veggies from Russo's, and Asian rice and noodles from the Korean store next to Waltham Common. But every now and then, I need the basic pantry stuff like soy sauce, oyster sauce etc.

                                                                Which market will be the closest from Waltham that carries the above-mentioned items?

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: y2000k

                                                                  I gotta say, in spite of the general dissatisfaction with the Allston super 88 stock (by myself included), I wouldn't necessarily rule them out for stuff like this. They still seem to have a decent stock of such things, which is certainly bigger than a lot of our little neighborhood markets, and hopefully the various reports about restructuring mean that it will pick up again. So unless you're looking for a specific brand they've stopped carrying, or you object to them for some principled reason, they might serve just fine.

                                                                  (I'm surprised to be saying this, given that I already thought they were dismal when the "well-stocked and humming" reports were rolling in-- I guess it's all a matter of suitably low expectations! :) That, and the fact that the food court, and Yi Soon down the street, provide consolation treats if you strike out on your shopping list)

                                                                  1. re: y2000k

                                                                    Jin Mi is a small store on Walnut in Newton (just off 16, near the supermarket) that has a nice selection of the basics.

                                                                    1. re: y2000k

                                                                      I know this is really late, but the thread got resurrected. There use to be a decent market in the rear of the strip mall on Waverly Oaks Rd. in Waltham. Drive around to the back of the building. The store is somewhere behind iParty.

                                                                      I stopped by one random night and the place was dark and closed, so I'm not sure if the store is still there or not. I was always able to find the basic sauces and stuff i needed.

                                                                      1. re: Ali G

                                                                        It's been closed for at least several months, maybe longer. I stopped by last summer in daylight and looked through the glass door, and the place was stripped.

                                                                        I never had much luck there. Some of the packaged stuff was OK, but the produce was awful. No great loss.

                                                                    2. Was in C-Mart Allston (Previously Super88) and things looked stable. Certainly not the stock they once had, but not bad.

                                                                      1. super 88 in malden is stocked up again. They have more items than they used to though they got rid of the BBQ, a lot of the bakery items and most of the dishes/plates/bowls are gone (though a lot more american groceries).
                                                                        I can't wait until H-mart opens! We had one in Toronto and it would definitely be a major plus for the area. The bakery (complete with beard papas knock offs), the prepared meats, prepared foods and the food court would definitely make my life living on the north shore much easier! Any news? I wish I could read Korean b/c on the website it looks like they are opening in December? or April? I couldn't figure it out.

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: noodlely

                                                                          I made a point of driving into their parking lot last week - no signs of life. No vehicles, dark inside, no signage or any indication that serious renovation is in the works. Knowing how long it took to transform the Woburn Star Mkt into Whole Foods - at least Star already had refrigeration and other supermarket wiring/plumbing - I can't imagine that they'd open before spring.

                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                            Can someone who understands real estate please explain if this link
                                                                            means that H-Mart is bailing?
                                                                            I also have seen no signs of life at that building.
                                                                            On the H-Mart website, I checked "employment opportunities," and MA isn't even listed.
                                                                            Not promising at all.

                                                                            1. re: peregrine

                                                                              I am not a real estate expert, but maybe H-Mart just wants to pull its capital out of the property. The description mentions renovations and a lease. If the lease is to H-Mart, they would be operating a store there, just not owning the property. Instead they would be able to plow the cash from the real estate sale back into their operation, perhaps with an eye to opening (yet) another location.

                                                                              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                It absolutely means the property is for sale. It almost certainly means H-Mart does NOT own the property. As stated, there is a new 15 year lease. Doubtful they would lease themselves the property prior to negotiating a sale if they owned the property. Nothing in that indicates HMart will or will not actually open the store, only that they are commited to paying the rent. Could possibly sublease it if they decide not to open.

                                                                              2. re: peregrine

                                                                                It means that H-Mart has a signed triple net lease - meaning they pay a net rent to the landlord and H-Mart pays the expenses - and the net interest is being sold. Says the base term is 15 years with 5% bumps every 5 years, expiring 1/1/2024. These deals are common and the idea is that you're buying a secure income stream, here at 8%. The investor has to decide if it's truly secure. It doesn't mean H-Mart is the owner, is not the owner, whatever, but it does mean H-Mart has a lease. It doesn't say if there is an out if H-Mart chooses not to open.

                                                                                1. re: lergnom

                                                                                  Thanks, lergnom, for the translation.

                                                                                  So we still have no clue on a timeline, but the place is still in the works. That's reassuring.

                                                                              3. re: greygarious

                                                                                hmm it still says opening soon on their website and in their news section they are looking for vendors for their food court and retail booths. They even posted a layout of their food court and retail booth sections. There is a date of 4/2009 but not sure what else it says. The ad on loopnet has been up since the beginning of summer and they have been talking about Hmart opening in the globe and the permit meetings in the local paper so I still think they are opening. I hope they are still opening there is a big need for an all-in-one place asian market. Its all the buzz at our church with a large asian membership.

                                                                                1. re: noodlely

                                                                                  According to that page, the vendor applications were due Dec 1, and the open date is indeed scheduled for 4/2009.

                                                                            2. The Super 88 on Washington Street has been closed for at least a month now and there is a sign up saying something else (another market) is coming soon (but no evidence of activity).

                                                                              1. Any updated news about the Super88 In Allston? Shelves still sparse?

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: y2000k

                                                                                  I was there on Sunday. They've cut down on the meat section and freezer sections. The shelves are still on the sparse side. However, there were many unopened boxes of various sauces and stuff on all the shelving. So, it looks like they are getting stock but haven't gotten around to putting it on the shelves yet.

                                                                                  1. re: y2000k

                                                                                    Beyond sparse; as each aisle empties, they seem to be pulling the fixturing out. When I was checking last week, I saw a big Caucasian man in a suit walking thru with two Asian men in suits, obviously discussing business. Laboring under the effects of a headcold, I did not pursue my activities as Nancy Drew, girl sleuth, but something was up....

                                                                                    1. re: y2000k

                                                                                      I was just there on Sunday morning and they were back up and fully stocked. I was able to find everything that I needed. Last time I was there however there was not a canned bamboo shoot in sight. The prices were much higher though. some items as much as three dollars but at the register they were three dollars lower because they changed the price tags but not the registers.

                                                                                      1. re: macadamianut

                                                                                        Fully stocked? Are you kidding? Half the place is empty....

                                                                                      2. re: y2000k

                                                                                        I noticed last time I was there that they seem to have eliminated most all the non-food items they used to carry, from Chinese tschotschkes to rice cookers, that they used to stack above the frozen food cases and above the refrigerated cases. That makes the place look much emptier than it used to.

                                                                                        1. re: y2000k

                                                                                          was there on monday afternoon, was looking pretty sparse--certainly not fully stocked at that point. there were employees actively "de-stocking" the shelves while i was there, but you could still buy things. i asked at the check out and was told that they are remodeling and that it could be awhile before things are back to normal. (this would explain the people pulling out the fixtures, i suppose.)

                                                                                        2. I was able to buy exactly what I needed. I do not want to give chowhounders the impression that there is nothing there because there is. Do they carry as much as they used to? Maybe not but there is still a reason to go there and support local business.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: macadamianut

                                                                                            yes okay, but "got what *I* needed" is not at all the same thing as, and I quote, "back up and FULLY stocked." that's simply misleading if it's not true even by your own estimation. (by the way, no one has said the place is empty.)

                                                                                            1. re: autopi

                                                                                              I spent over 100.00 and left with at least eight bags. I was looking for unique ingredients and I was able to find them. I shop there frequently enough to know that there was more inventory than there was a month ago. There is still a reason to go there and shop. Some people on the board make it sound as though it is a lost cause and hopefully that is not the case.

                                                                                              1. re: macadamianut

                                                                                                agree that it is not a "lost cause", there are groceries available at the 88 in allston. that said, personally we have shifted all of the sort of shopping we did at super 88's (i.e. basic chinese food ingredients, fresh whole fish, chinese vegetables, hot pot meats, many condiments, sometimes roast meats, anway usually in the order of about $100-150/month) to kam man and occasionally ming's or c-mart. those stores simply seem to have a more complete and fresher selection. if we lived in allston/brighton, it would be different, but for anyone, like us, who is going to have to drive anyway, allston super 88 just isn't the good choice it once was, which is too bad since there are many other establishments in the area, yoma, clear flour, international bazaar & etc. that we still try to patronize.

                                                                                          2. This is so depressing.

                                                                                            It all started when they first got rid of the best of the three brands of soy milk they carried. The other two brands are atrocious. Now, they barely carry one (at either Allston or South Bay)

                                                                                            I usually go to the Allston one and it's been downhill for a while. Can't get Chinese broccoli. Can't get the famous HK branded instant noodles. Etc, etc. you guys have all seen the changes. I asked a staff member a few weeks ago, she said they were "remodeling." I couldn't even find Ribena.

                                                                                            This past w/e I went to the one in South Bay. it's also suffering from roughly the same fate although it seems a touch better than the Allston one. At least this one still carried Chinese broccoli.

                                                                                            Depressing stuff. Someone please go save Super 88 from the jaws of financial oblivion.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: creativesmurf

                                                                                              I can't reveal my sources but the word on the street is that the family that owns the 88's invested heavily into a casino venture in Viet Nam that didn't pan out. The remaining stores are operating on COD status as no suppliers will extend them any credit. Although it's the same family (but run by a different sibling), the Chau Chow restaurants are presently solvent.

                                                                                              1. re: lowbuckbob

                                                                                                The casino story was mentioned on October 8, earlier in this thread, by amatto (without the part about the Super 88s being reduced to COD-only status by their vendors):

                                                                                                And I thought that Grand Chau Chow had closed?

                                                                                                1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                                  Grand Chau Chow is closed. But I *think* Chau Chow City is still open.

                                                                                            2. Had an incredibly depressing and bizarre experience at the South Bay 88 on Sunday.

                                                                                              First of all, they claim to be "remodeling" but they have, in fact, removed at least 50% of their inventory. The aisles have been reconfigured but the store is a vast wasteland of empty open space.

                                                                                              My estimate is that at least 40% of their products (dry goods) are now Hispanic/Western.

                                                                                              Their asian inventory has been slashed. The Stop and Shop has more variety in ramen noodles now, for example. It was always arranged rather haphazarly, but now it's shelved with totally no logic, making many things impossible to find. That is if they still carry them.

                                                                                              This leads into my story. Hardly any of the staff speaks English -- we know this -- but I was able to find a guy who spoke some Emglish and asked him where the sriracha sauce was. "Two aisles over," he grunted. I had already looked all over the store for the stuff and looked in that aisle again. Wasnt there. I asked him again and ashed if he could show me. "2 asiles over, SIR" He said. Yes, I was wearing a baseball cap, but I have shoulder-length hair, was wearing girlie earrings and a feminine-tailored coat. No scientient being should be calling me "sir." He finally walked over and handed me some soy sauce. I said that i needed sriracha sauce. Hot chile sauce, blah blah. He told me they didn't have anything like that and again called me "sir." I politely explained that they probably have sriracha sauce somewhere and that I was not a sir. He asked another worked who SCREAMED at me that they didn't have sriracha and never, ever had carried it. But, phew, didn't call me sir. But the other guy did. Again.

                                                                                              It was all just too Felliniesque at this point.

                                                                                              We needed rice, so we bought some but vowed never to shop there again. Luckily Kam Man isn't too far.

                                                                                              This makes me sad. That used to be such a GREAT store.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                I stopped by this Monday at the Allston location. Remodelling was ongoing and could not find any sriracha, fish sauce, panko, fresh noodles. Does anyone know if this is lights out for 88. I was less than happy after driving from metro West to stock up on my Asian cooking staples.

                                                                                                1. re: meathad

                                                                                                  Talked with the manager in charge of the remodel of the Allston Super 88 and he informed me that the project to remodel is supposed to be done by the end of January and that it will remain a Super 88. As remodels never get done on time, hopefully the remodel will be done by February.

                                                                                              2. I was just at the Malden 88. The meat and produce were decent, but I was amazed at the lack of variety/volume of Asian products. I have more choices at one of the little Mom & Pop SE Asian markets in Lowell.