Just days away from opening, Super G Mart in Pineville on Tuesday was bustling as boxes filled with packaged food from around the globe were stocked on shelves under aisle signs designated by continents.
The international supermarket is opening its third and largest store at 10500 Centrum Parkway. And Peter Han, company vice president of business development, told The Charlotte Observer it will happen Christmas weekend after nearly a year of delays.
“We’re trying to get everything together the best we can with limited staff,” Han said.
The 108,000-square-foot store has about 50 employees but Han said he needs more like 80 to operate. Hiring issues is one of the reasons the opening has been delayed, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.
Super G Mart also will be “a cultural hub,” Han said, and include a community center, food hall and other international businesses.
It’s been a massive undertaking for the privately-held, family-owned business that also will include a food hall, full-service restaurant and community room.
Amid Tuesday morning’s hustle, 5-year-old Christopher Han busts through the store’s sliding front door with squeals, carrying a toy dinosaur in outstretched arms running straight to his uncle Peter for a hug.
“The entire family is here,” Han said. He points to his brother Paul Han, vice president of operations, on the phone, and his mother and Super G CEO Irene Han. His brother’s father-in-law and mother-in-law from Korea also are lending a hand where needed.
The opening date, originally expected in January, had been pushed back a few times for several reasons, including COVID-related construction supply shortages.
But Han said he’s been working up to 16 hours a day for eight days straight to get the store open by Christmas. The store may not be completely stocked with all items or able to sell alcohol when it opens though.
“We’re making good progress,” Han said.
Expanding Super G Mart
During Covid when restaurants shut down, more people were cooking at home and started venturing out into different cultures and cuisines, Han said. Super G’s revenue increased 30% during the pandemic.
“We saw a big diversification of our customer base outside of the Asian or Hispanic base we’re used to seeing shopping in our stores,” Han said.
The Pineville international supermarket, in a former Super Kmart site across from Carolina Place mall, is twice the size of Super G’s two other stores in Greensboro and Independence Boulevard in Charlotte. Along with a refresh including a new logo, the aisles are wider so shoppers have more space to browse the international ingredients they may not have seen before.
“It’s like traveling through different regions of the world,” Han said. Instead of aisles named by products like traditional grocers, here signs say Africa, Asia and India, for example.
The selection has been expanded, too, with more foods from Eastern Europe, India and Russia. “We have much more variety than the other stores,” Irene Han said.
Unexpected finds at Super G
Super G Mart’s goal is to share how to make international dishes with authentic ingredients through cooking classes in the community center, called The Club, and the 25,000-square-foot international food hall.
Some unexpected finds at the new Super G Mart include more Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Turkish products, as well as rows of Nina products like ground crayfish and kinkeleba and atama leaves in the African and Jamaican aisle.
“But our biggest driver is our produce department,” Han said. There are seven types of yams and seven types of roots, for example, as well as Irish sea moss.
The seafood department in the back of the store will have a live fish tank wall 16 feet long stocked with lobster, crab, catfish and more.
And in the meat department, there will be cuts, like bull fries, and rabbit and chicken hearts.
Also new to Super G Mart will be an authentic Korean deli run by Paul Han’s mother-in-law serving side dishes and marinated meats.
More than groceries
To get a taste of flavors from around the world, there will be several businesses and an international food hall.
Tous les Jours bakery will open in the front right corner of the store. It will be the second Charlotte-area location after the South Korean franchise opened in May at Piedmont Row shopping center in SouthPark.
To the left of the entrance is the community center, dubbed The Club. There will be cooking classes, language classes like Korean or Mandarin, and other ways to learn about different cultures, Han said.
There also are eight retail spaces for businesses, such as Korean cosmetics, a pharmacy, floral shop or boutique.
Han also hopes to take advantage of the large parking lot to host international festivals.
A Super G Mart food hall
Attached to the grocery store will be a 25,000-square-foot food hall.
Picture grabbing a bite on the streets of Hong Kong with roasted pork or duck, or corn dogs or hot dogs in South Korea. There’s also a new concept with a stone-top cooked Chinese crepe, jianbing, with egg, herbs and sauces rolled up and sliced.
“I think there’s a growing interest in different authentic foods in this city,” Han said.
A wall of windows will offer a view of some of the business vendor signs from the housewares section that sells everything from Korean grills to Japanese rice dispensers and children’s chopsticks to kimchi pot.
The food hall will share a 5,000-square-foot outdoor dining space with a full-service restaurant. Irene Han said her son set high expectations by bringing in proven, authentic restaurants.
So far, there are about eight tenants signed on for the food hall, which Han expects to open in late spring. The vendors are:
▪ Connie’s Kitchen – Filipino street food
▪ Gong Cha – Taiwanese bubble tea
▪ Honey Buns – Steamed buns, dumplings, Chinese cuisine
▪ Mochinut – Mochi donuts and Korean hot dogs
▪ Mukja – Korean street food
▪ Saigon Café – Vietnamese pho, vermicelli, bahn mi
▪ Sizzling – Pepper Lunch Japanese concept
▪ Super G Mart Kitchen (still to be named) – Bibimbap, Korean rice bowls, Gmart product samples
▪ Yume Ramen – Japanese ramen and sushi items
Han said the food hall and grocery store will play off each other.
“That kind of symbiotic relationship will really turn this into the next level for shopping and dining experience,” Han said.
Super G Mart is still looking to fill the 2,800-square-foot restaurant space and one 400-square-foot vendor space.
More about Super G Mart
The first 50,000-square-foot Super G Mart opened in 2008 in Greensboro.
Two years later, Super G Mart opened a 52,000-square-foot grocery store at 7323 East Independence Blvd. in Charlotte in the former Bi-Lo spot at Independence Square East shopping center.
In 2012, the Han family took ownership of Super G Mart. Han joined the family business in fall 2020 with his mother and Super G Mart CEO Irene Han, brother and general manager Paul Han and his wife, Minji, who helps with marketing. Han’s friend and colleague Joseph Kang is vice president of strategy and finance.
Super G has 75 employees at its Charlotte store and 65 in Greensboro.