Grocery shoppers in west Mobile are about to get another option: A new Rouses Market will occupy the former Gander Mountain site near the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Schillinger Road.
CEO Donny Rouse, third-generation leader of the family-owned, Louisiana-based grocery chain, said potential patrons won’t have to wait long. “We should be open in the next six to seven months,” he said.
Rouse said the expansion shows that Lower Alabama has been fertile ground for his company, which has been doing business in the area for less than five years. “We like Mobile,” he said. “We have a lot of great customers.”
Rouses entered the market in a big way in 2013, taking ownership of former Belle Foods stores in the region after that chain filed for bankruptcy. By early 2014, Rouse’s had remodeled and reopened five locations: One in Mobile’s Spring Hill district as well as stores in Theodore, Saraland, Spanish Fort and Gulf Shores. At the time, Rouse said the company was investing about $2 million in each remodeling.
Business is good for Rouses, which was founded in 1960. Aside from Mobile, it has new stores coming in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, La. It currently has 54 stores open. The west Mobile location will be its 56th, following one that’ll open in November in Baton Rouge.
The company also sealed a deal earlier this year that makes it the official grocer of the New Orleans Saints. Rouse said for his company, it’s not a business-as-usual sponsorship contract.
“It’s a huge deal for a company this size,” he said, adding that it’s a source of pride for employees. “It makes sense. We’re from the Gulf Coast. Everyone on the Gulf Coast is a Saints fan.”
As for the new Mobile store, Rouses said it’ll occupy about 50,000 square feet, making it comparable to the other Rouses Markets in the area. But it’ll also include at least one new feature: A classroom where customers and chefs can engage, swapping recipes and learning about culinary approaches such as wine pairings.
“We can do some exciting things,” Rouse said.
Rouse said discussions had been under way on the Gander Mountain site for about four months. It puts Rouses near one of the most heavily traveled intersections in west Mobile, serving an area with tens of thousands of residents.
“We feel it’s one of the best locations in Mobile,” Rouse said. “It’s definitely in need of a grocery.”