With the opening of the Ling & Sons rotunda, on WVB, I went to visit the much-loved albeit a bit neglected over the past few years, Ling & Sons Super Center.
After a lame run as a so-so Albert Heijn outlet, we heard last year that: “Alfabet Holdings, an investment group led by Gassan Azan, a Jamaican businessman who founded the MegaMart Wholesale Club in Jamaica, has acquired the Van den Tweel supermarket group, which operates in the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
The chain comprises five stores known as Van den Tweel Supermarket, Ling & Sons, and Warehouse Supermarket. One is based in Aruba and two each in Bonaire and Curacao.”
A much-awaited change of ownership for the food store, some savior with Caribbean retail experience, showed up to lift it up from mediocrity!
My relationship with the store, goes a long way. I became a client of Ling & Sons Supermarket at their downtown location on Weststraat in the late ‘70s. I was new to the island at the time, and everything seemed different and challenging except the market shelves, which carried products I was familiar with, making me feel right at home. I also learned a new thing: to buy bok choy for my soup, and sweetened condensed milk for my coffee! If truth be told, I was perfectly happy at the four-aisle Weststraat store, with the occasional leaking refrigerator. I developed informal and friendly relationships with the Ling family members, especially Ingrid Ling, who listened to every request, big or small, for specialized products and seasonal selections, which she promptly imported, making sure we were notified that the items arrived in time for the holiday.”
That piece was part of an entry I wrote for a Ling & Sons commemorative book, said to be in print, but let’s not digress too much.
The diligent, and charming if I may say, new owners’ representative Omar Barrientos — Country Manager for the Super Center — reports his team has been working nights for the past 6 months to totally transform the store and the shopping experience.
Some of that transformation is now visible with all new, intimately lit, display shelves and an innovative, open and friendly layout.
Fruits and Vegetable first, always the best, a long-standing tradition with the store, then a butcher shop on the right with a just-introduced Prime USDA Angus beef program besides the expected Choice and Select.
The extended cafeteria will feature a larger selection of hot meals, prepared fresh every day, besides a rich salad bar, grab ‘n go sandwiches, wraps, salads and fresh juices.
The bakery, featuring breads, cakes, pastries and desserts including custom-cake service will occupy a full wing of the store; expect a 72-door unit offering frozen meals, pizza, ice creams, fresh-frozen fruits and vegetables.
A full-service liquor store with an extensive portfolio of fine wines by from California USA, Italy, Chile and Argentina, and many favorite Champagne labels.
A cosmetic store where you could solicit beauty tips from helpful staffers.
Best of all, the concept store is artfully illuminated, and the merchandise artistically displayed, with attractive graphic accents, and friendly signage.
Did we mention an air-conditioned dining room?
Double the number of cashiers?
Repaved parking lot?
Upgraded, beautified façade?
Ling & Sons is preparing for a big launch, when everything is said and done. So, stay tuned.
And one more surprise: An affiliated Super Center opening in the high-rise area, south of Palm Beach Plaza, easily accessible from all hotels and residences in the area.