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Saturday, Jul 13, 2024

Jimbo’s Expanding Local Footprint with 2 New Locations

RETAIL: Grocer Celebrates 40 Years as Leader in Organic Food

SAN DIEGO – Business decisions like offering only organic produce, stocking strictly non-GMO products and saying no to selling plastic bottles of water may seem daunting to most grocery stores, but they’ve only been a boon to Jimbo Someck.

The founder and president of Jimbo’s… Naturally! grocery stores has been a leader in health and wellness since the first Jimbo’s opened 40 years ago.

Jimbo Someck
Founder & President
Jimbo’s… Naturally!

Now with four stores in San Diego County, Jimbo’s is preparing to expand into two new spots in the next three years.

Jimbo’s will open inside the mixed-use Civita footprint by 2027, but will have another store coming sooner. The organic grocer announced July 3 the signing of a lease for a 25,000-square-foot store in the Watermark development in Scripps Ranch-Poway. Like Civita, Watermark is being developed by Sudberry Properties. Jimbo’s expects to open its Watermark store in 2026.

Jimbo’s has seen strong business growth, particularly over the last five years, with 5% growth from 2022 to 2023 “and greater growth this year,” Someck said.

Justin Jackson
Jimbo’s… Naturally!

COO Justin Jackson said the company has invested more than $2.6 million in local produce from more than 30 local farms in the last year, bolstering Jimbo’s commitment to supporting the local economy and agriculture.

Growing Grocery Chain

Jimbo’s launched in 1984 when Someck left the job he held for 11 years at the Ocean Beach People’s Food Co-Op and opened a new natural foods store in North Park on 30th Street near University Avenue.

Backed by about $400,000 in seed money from family and friends, the original Jimbo’s was sold in 1997, but four stores are still thriving, with more than 350 employees altogether.

Jimbo’s Carmel Valley store opened in 1992, followed by Escondido in 1997 (and soon to be renovated), Carlsbad in 2003 and 4S Ranch in 2007.

Jimbo’s held a spot in Horton Plaza starting in 2013 but those doors shuttered in 2020 amid a legal battle related to the shopping center’s construction plans.

“I didn’t care if I made nothing or a million bucks, but I’ve wanted to do it with honesty, integrity and respect,” Someck said. “As long as I can wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I’m doing the right thing.’”

The success of Jimbo’s has come for myriad reasons, but Someck says all are related to the business staying true to its mission and company vision.

That includes doing the “right thing” by sourcing the highest quality organic and natural foods to nourish and inspire through real ingredients, listening to customers, staying involved with the community, and embracing honesty and integrity.

The company’s longtime vision has been “to have a piece of organic fruit in every child’s recycled lunch bag.”

“The secret to success is just for an individual to find something you’re passionate about,” Someck said. “And one thing I’ve been fortunate with is that I’m really passionate about Jimbo’s, I’m passionate about the industry. I believe in what we do. And it makes it so much easier to do something for 40 years when you’re passionate and believe in something.”

Organic Food Pioneer

An early leader in stocking natural and organic food products, Someck was on to wellness long before others. Organic items that have been staples at Jimbo’s have been finding their way into mainstream grocery stores and into people’s diets exponentially through the years.

The word organic is related to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products.

Organic farming practices typically are meant to improve soil and water quality, cut pollution, provide safe and healthy places for farm animals livestock to live and enable natural animal behavior, and promote self-sustaining cycles of farm resources.

Materials and methods not allowed with organic farming include the use of artificial fertilizers to add nutrients to soil, using most synthetic pesticides for pest control, any implementation of genetic technology to change the genetic makeup of crops, and the use of antibiotics or growth hormones for farm animals.

In an April 2022 survey by Consumer Reports, 42% of Americans said they thought organic food was more nutritious, and 66% thought it was better at limiting their exposure to pesticides or fertilizers.

A 2014 analysis of 343 studies, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that organic produce contained higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidants than conventional produce did.

Place for Local Startups, Farms

Kierstin Rielly is executive director of Naturally San Diego, the local nonprofit which brings together entrepreneurs, investors, brands retails and industry experts to make San Diego a top spot to launch and scale natural consumer packaged goods companies.

Kierstin Rielly
Executive Director
Naturally San Diego

Calling Jimbo’s “an amazing resource for us in San Diego,” Rielly said the amount of partnering, accessibility and support Jimbo’s has offered NSD is vast, from supporting NSD’s mission and hosting events to sponsoring its annual Pitch Slam.

“Jimbo’s has been the launching spot for so many local brands,” Rielly said. “(Jimbo’s) has been the first retailer for countless brands that have ‘made it.’ Jimbo’s is often a brand’s first chance at retail. So many times when they have gotten ‘No’s” from other retailers, Jimbo’s has offered a jumping off point. And once in Jimbo’s, which has some of the strictest requirements (for shelf space), they can often get in somewhere else. Nobody wants to be ‘proof of concept for brand,’ but Jimbo’s is, time after time.”

Jackson said Jimbo’s business model leans to strong fiscal stewardship and taking great care of customers and the working team.

He said that the natural food industry is “more sophisticated” than when Jimbo’s first launched, with plenty of competition from grocery stores and other retail outlets, but that “the company’s hallmarks of natural, organic and regenerative levels of retailing have become much larger than that.”

Also in a short-span retail shift, Jimbo’s will celebrate its 40th anniversary this weekend with 40% off specials (and some 50% deals, Someck says) on selected items in the store on July 12, 13 and 14.

Feel Good Business Practices

Someck said Jimbo’s customers frequent the store because they see the commitment it has made toward the quality of food sold.

“We are always pushing on the edge of carrying the highest-quality ingredients that we can find not because we feel that’s a way to market ourselves but because that’s who we are,” Someck said.

He said his devotion to selling organic foods was sealed early in Jimbo’s tenure when he had a chat with “an elderly gentleman” that shopped at his store.

“He was a senior, by himself, and very meticulous about writing everything down that he would buy,” Someck said. “After about a year after we were open, he pulled me aside and said, ‘You know, over the past year I’ve compared the amount of money spent at your store compared to where I was shopping previously.’

“I was expecting him to say that it was a significant amount of dollars and was thinking, ‘Oh well…’ He told me it was $250 or $300 more than he had spent at Vons or Safeway, and then he said, ‘But I’ve never felt better in my life and I’ve saved more than that on doctors’ bills.’”

Someck gave credit to his staff for Jimbo’s four decades of success and said there’s plenty more to come.

“My hope,” he said, “is that we continue to push the envelope in carrying the highest-quality products that we can, and being transparent to our customers that, ‘This is who we are, and this is what we stand for.’”

Jimbo’s… Naturally!
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego, Carmel Valley
BUSINESS: Retail Grocery
WEBSITE: jimbos.com
CONTACT: 858-793-7755
SOCIAL IMPACT: Jimbo’s Wooden Nickel Program helps promote recycling of shopping bags, rewarding customers who bring in their own reusable back with a nickel to drop in one of four boxes that change every three months, all helping local charities
NOTABLE: Jimbo’s is committed to supporting local farmers and small businesses, and logos are visible on shelves throughout its stores that say “SUPPORT SAN DIEGO,” noting local products


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