The revitalization of the Turlock Town Center is nearly complete as the community eagerly awaits the grand opening of its newest tenant, Smart & Final Extra!, by the end of June.

Things began to move and shake in the Golden State Boulevard shopping center two years ago, when owner Gary Pinkston of Meridian Pacific purchased both Rite Aid as well as the rest of TTC. Pinkston specializes in purchasing older shopping centers and sprucing them up with updated exteriors and modern retailers in order to meet the needs of the surrounding community.

He’s done just that with TTC, shifting things around to build a brand-new Rite Aid and open a much-needed grocery store in the area.

“When Turlock Town Center was in its inception 25 or 30 years ago, it was a very vibrant shopping center with Albertsons and Rite Aid as the anchor tenants. Then, as often happens, there was a move out of the anchor tenant Albertsons,” Pinkston said. “So, the shopping center has probably run at about 50 percent of its capacity in sales for the past 15 years.”

In order to increase TTC’s value, Pinktson spent tens of thousands of dollars on improvements to the center’s landscaping and other aesthetics before enticing Smart & Final Extra! to move in. The store combines the high-quality, fresh produce of a farmer’s market, the low prices of a discount grocer and the large club size products of the company’s traditional stores and is moving into Rite Aid’s former space.

Rite Aid has downsized into a smaller, but newer location where Goodwill, Klassy Kuts and Rainbow Fabrics used to be. The three businesses in turn moved to the north end of the center by Jura’s Pizza Parlor and where Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken will soon open. Pinkston could not confirm the additional fast food restaurant for the space, but plans on the City of Turlock’s website show that McDonald’s is planning to open another location in the TTC.

Pinkston believes the new anchor and exterior improvements, in addition to the other number of small businesses the center has attracted over the last two years, will double retail sales activity in the shopping center. Now, residents on the same side of town as the TTC won’t have to drive to other shopping centers that are further away from their home in order to get the essentials.

“What we find particularly in Central California is that there are residential areas which were initially well-served with modern retail, then more growth happens…everyone wants to dance with the new girl at the party,” Pinkston said, referring to newer shopping centers on the north side of town. “Now people don’t have to drive as far. We’ve got the services right in the middle of town now.”

Smart & Final Extra! is scheduled to open June 24. With the grand “reopening” of the TTC, Pinkston hopes to see the community view the center as a vital piece of the community, whether that means hosting an event in the parking lot or utilizing “pick up” spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s kind of like doing a puzzle and we fit a nice piece in there,” Pinkston said. “Maryn Pitt from the City helped so much and was instrumental, along with the entire City of Turlock. We couldn’t have done this without their cooperation. That was our