If you are in the heart of Sacramento, you can probably get your fix of ice cream, beer, wine and candy, or get a last-minute cleaning product within a mile or two.
Unique to Sacramento, mom-and-pop convenience stores are scattered across the city, offering food and necessities with a touch of community.
A reporter from Bee contacted and visited several of the many convenience stores sprawled across downtown, downtown, and neighboring Sacramento neighborhoods. The families behind three of the stores visited have agreed to speak to The Bee, sharing their story and what makes their stores unique.
And of course, we couldn’t help but write about the corner store made famous by Sacramento native Greta Gerwig’s 2017 film “Lady Bird.”
Meet the families who run some of the convenient neighborhood appliances in Sacramento and the various specialty items you can only find there.
2500 P St, Sacramento
Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily
Walking down P Street, it’s hard to miss the bright yellow and blue building that makes up Pacific Market. Behind its door is an array of goods, from sunscreen, Nyquil and Swiffer Wet Mop cloths to frozen dinners, candies, assorted beef jerky and craft beers.
Craft beers are one of the unique items at the store, said owner Preet Singh. The market has been selling local beers for three to four years, sourcing the selection from Sacramento, throughout California and even the East Coast, and choosing them carefully based on factors such as flavor profile, rarity and customer preferences.
The market offers beers of the month – hazy, lager, pilsners, sours, milkshakes.
“Whatever beer you try now, you won’t see for the next 11 months,” he said. “It will be different every month.”
Pacific Market has been around since the 1930s, Singh said. His family has taken over the store for the past 17 years.
Unlike convenience stores seen at gas stations, Singh said, Pacific Market is a neighborhood store.
“Whatever you need,” he said, “we’ll do our best to make it happen for our customers.”
At the front of the cash register is a yellow notepad, nestled between bundles of dried mango slices and a credit card reader. Labeled, “What can the Pacific market do for you?” » Customers can doodle the items they want stocked on the shelves.
“It will literally be on the shelf in about two to three days,” Singh said, “depending on the article.”
3060 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Sacramento
Open 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily
At first glance, Boss Market looks like your typical convenience store. To the left of the door you will find car supplies and chilled drinks and towards the cash register you can get candy, jerky or ask the cashier for a pack of cigarettes.
But off to the side, behind a hidden wall, is a place where the magic of Boss Market happens – where burgers, hot dogs, chili and cheese fries are served straight off the grill. Think New York bodegas but Sacramento.
Owner Jiwan Kumarverme previously ran a food truck before establishing Boss Market in the Oak Park neighborhood in 2011, said Monika Verma, Kumarverme’s wife. The store’s charm lies in its cheap prices, according to Yelp reviews.
You can get a double cheeseburger for $4 or add bacon to it for 50 cents. There are chili fries for $4.50 and nine-piece chicken nuggets for $5. If you’re craving sweets, grab a caramel shake for $4, a banana split for $5, or a chocolate sundae for $3.
The most popular item, Verma said, is the Players Plate, where for $15 you can get two-piece jumbo fish, four-piece hot wings, four-piece shrimp, fries and soda.
1330 O St, Sacramento
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday; close on Sunday
When you enter Sam’s Market on O Street, you might surprise Kenton Fong, Sam’s grandson, behind the cash register. Or you’ll see Arvella Fong, Kenton’s mother and Sam’s eldest daughter, and her son Dennis, standing in front of Polaroid photos of their store’s lottery winners.
Sam’s Market has been in business for over 80 years in Sacramento and has been on the corner of 14th and O Streets since 1957. A family business, Sam’s Market has been passed down through three generations and 15 relatives, with Kenton currently managing the store.
In the morning, Kenton said, people stop by for iced coffee and energy drinks, and in the evening, booze is a must. The store was once a butcher, but with business downturns, neighborhood changes, and the arrival of state workers, Sam’s Market has transformed the meat area into a fresh sandwich stand.
You can choose from bologna and cheese, ham and cheese, roast beef, tuna, turkey, deviled eggs on white, wheat and rye bread or a French roll for less than $10. A hot pastrami on a roll is the most popular sandwich, said Doreen Wong, Kenton’s niece.
And only at Sam’s Market will you find authentic Hawaiian-style snacks – macadamia, mochi crunch, ube macadamia and matcha macadamia nut cookies – all prepared in Kino Kitchen’s home kitchen. You can also find Japanese snacks, such as chex mix furikake and okoshi, a puffed rice cake.
Since it’s been around for a long time, you might also run into some longtime 50s regulars.
American Market and Deli
2331 N St, Sacramento
7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Thursday and Sunday; 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., Friday and Saturday
For fans of the 2017 coming-of-age film Lady Bird, American Market and Deli is Sacramento’s unofficial landmark.
The corner store was featured in the film and is where actress Saoirse Ronan, playing Lady Bird, goes to buy cigarettes, a lottery ticket and a Playgirl magazine after turning 18. In this scene, store co-owner Gurpreet Singh makes his on-screen debut.
Downtown, the store is still adorned with the iconic blue and purple peacock mural by artists Shaun Turner, Daniel Osterhoff and Miguel Bounce Perez – as seen in the film.