By Robin GOLDSWORTHY
It was like saying hi to old friends. At least it was for Albertsons service operations manager Todd Knudsen on Saturday during the store’s first Customer Appreciation Day.
“We’ve had a strong positive response on our return,” Knudsen said.
Albertsons was a staple in the Tujunga area and nearby community when it was unexpectedly sold to Haggen, which filed for bankruptcy in September after aggressive expansion plans didn’t pan out. Shortly after that announcement, the Albertsons sign was once again hung on the front of the store, welcoming shoppers back.
Customer Appreciation Day was the brainchild of Dwight Sityar of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event.
“The chamber wanted to help Albertsons by getting the word out that they’re back,” Sityar said. Sityar worked with Knudsen in fine-tuning the event by arranging several classic cars on-site courtesy of the Early Rodders Car Club.
Sityar is a member of the popular car club that meets every Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. at the United Artists parking lot in La Cañada.
Knudsen did his part by making sure that customers felt appreciated. He had the store’s barbecues fired up and offered free hot dogs and other barbecued items for sale. There were also chicken or cake walks where winners took home either a cake from the store bakery or an eight-piece chicken dinner.
Neighboring businesses like Wells Fargo and Verizon were also part of the festivities.
“This was an awesome opportunity to tie-in with Customer Appreciation Day,” said Verizon store manager Ani Carol. “Customer service is a priority for us.”
“We’re happy to be allowed to interact with the community on this level,” said Wells Fargo personal banker Joseph Salem who was available to answer finance questions with his associates Roselyn Osuagwu and Gohar Gevorkian.
Osuagwu added that they had met many people during the day and addressed many of their needs.
“We’re here to help them,” she said. “Some want to know about saving for college and others are interested in mortgages. The more you get to know your customers you learn how to better help them.”
But whether folks came for the food or financial advice, the classic cars were what really caught everyone’s attention. About 40 were on display including a Model A owned by local resident Al McGee.
The car has a picnic option that when opened up reveals a full culinary set up complete with table and tablecloth.
“This was before the days of fast food restaurants,” McGee said. “You had to bring it with you.”
A 1941 Willy’s Coupe was also a crowd favorite, painted a bright yellow with red flames on the side.
Mark Davis brought his refurbished 1972 Firebird that he recently completed.
“Car guys like to get their cars out of the garage and drive them somewhere,” Davis said.
Early Rodders members are eager to show off their vehicles and can be found at several events each year including the Hometown Country Fair in April and movie night on Honolulu Avenue in August.
“Some people will come by and just look at the cars, others will stop and ask all kinds of questions,” Davis said. “We love it.”
With ’50s and ’60s music playing for the crowd, the scene was set for success and Sityar was pleased with the results.
“Everyone seemed to have fun,” he said, “and we got three new chamber members!”