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New owners expanding Lucky’s Market concept in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a fairly disastrous 2020 that saw Lucky’s Market’s national presence nearly collapse on the heels of a rapid expansion and subsequent bankruptcy, the brand appears to be thriving in a place far from its Boulder birthplace: Ohio.

Dave’s Supermarket Inc., the family-run operators of a Ohio-based chain Dave’s Market, swooped in during Lucky’s 2020 bankruptcy auction to snag the Lucky’s Market locations in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

Since then, Dave’s has expanded the Ohio Lucky’s presence with the fourth Buckeye State store now under development in Columbus, Dave’s co-owner David Saltzman told BizWest in an email. 

Saltzman said the Ohio-based Lucky’s operation has “no relationship” to the Boulder-born Lucky’s, founded by Bo and Trish Sharon, “other than we bought the [two Ohio] stores and have focused on continuing [to] do well what was done previously.”

The Sharons, who did not respond to requests for comment Monday, still own and operate Lucky’s Market locations in Boulder and Fort Collins.

The beginning of the end for Lucky’s as it existed in early 2020 — when it operated nearly 40 locations around the country — began in the middle of last decade.

“Beginning in 2015, the company developed and sought to execute on a strategic growth plan, which included accelerated growth in new and existing markets, with a focus on developing stores in Florida,” according to the company’s bankruptcy filing. “The company’s strategic growth plan required, among other things, significant upfront investment.”

In 2015, Lucky’s got a partnership and cash infusion from Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), which led to a rapid expansion that more than doubled the store count.

In September 2016, Kroger provided Lucky’s with a secured loan of $23,328,810. A second agreement for a new $25,177,640 loan was struck in August 2017. Later that year, the parties “entered into agreements subsequently to, among other things, lend (Lucky’s) additional amounts over time,” according to the affidavit. By the time Lucky’s filed for bankruptcy, the loan balance was $301,156,450.

When the Chapter 11 petition was filed, Lucky’s had $15 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand, $425 million in assets, and approximately $600 million in liabilities, court documents show.

In March 2020, Lucky’s auctioned off 23 of its stores, which garnered $29 million in the bankruptcy fire sale. The Saltzmans’ winning bid for the two Ohio locations was $1.72 million, court documents showed. 

While business at the Ohio shops is good enough to warrant local expansion, Saltzman told BizWest that he “can’t really say” whether Lucky’s will eventually be a national brand again.

Source: BizWest