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DeSalles with Safeway for nearly 30 years

Store manager celebrates 10 of those at Lincoln store
By: Paul Apfel, Special to Inside Lincoln
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Celebrating a decade in Lincoln this year, Safeway and its store manager, Marcus DeSalles, are not only anchor tenants but fixtures at the Lincoln Hills Towne Center along Highway 65 at Lincoln’s south end. Feb. 28, 2001 marked the opening day for Lincoln’s first Safeway store with Safeway veteran DeSalles as the first store manager, a position he maintains today. Bearing witness to Lincoln’s explosive growth, DeSalles reminisced recently that he used to see “cattle and llamas grazing across the railroad tracks as he drove to work.” At its current size of just more than 40,000 residents, Lincoln is nearly four times larger now than it was 10 years ago, according to a market analysis and strategic action plan commissioned by the city. A Safeway veteran, DeSalles told us recently that his current position caps nearly 30 years with the company, having started as a courtesy clerk in the Safeway store in Gridley in 1981. June 1 marks the anniversary day for this Turlock born and Yuba City-raised Californian who has risen steadily through the ranks in various Safeway stores throughout California’s Central Valley, holding store positions in Chico, Willows, and just before Lincoln, Citrus Heights. DeSalles has been a keen observer of Lincoln’s dynamic growth during the past decade, watching his customers grow and the demographics change. Ten years ago, Lincoln was in the early stages of its development boom, having just seen the city’s residential population increase by approximately 2,200, growing from just about 9,000 to 11,200 by spring 2000. That year, Lincoln’s first major shopping center outside the historic downtown area, the Lincoln Hills Towne Center was developed. And the following year, the new Safeway store, the shopping center’s anchor tenant; opened its doors to serve the expanding residential population. Between 2000 and 2007, more than 1,000 housing units were built each year, according to the city’s study conducted by Gruen Gruen + Associates. Growth slowed as the national and regional economic downturn gripped the community, resulting in shop vacancies and fewer housing starts. As the population grew, DeSalles has seen the shift in demographics as smaller, older households assumed a more prominent role in Lincoln, an inevitable result of the growth of the Sun City active-adult, age-restricted community. Although the economy has struggled, under DeSalles’ guidance and leadership, Lincoln’s Safeway store has continued to grow. The Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce recognized that in 2005 by awarding the store the Business of the Year award. Currently supervising a staff of 140, DeSalles expressed considerable pride in his store and employees as good citizens and neighbors in Lincoln. He describes his staff as “a great crew.” He is also proud of Lincoln’s Safeway for its community involvement and support for several local schools and nonprofit groups. They participate in or sponsor numerous fundraising events for a variety of charitable causes, including prostate cancer and breast cancer research, people with disabilities that is also known as Easter Seals, Special Olympics and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They donate raffle prizes and help with fundraisers for several local schools such as Lincoln High School, Glen Edwards and Twelve Bridges Middle School. They sponsor a Sun City Lincoln Hills men’s senior softball team and they actively support the Lincoln Volunteer Center and Tour de Lincoln. A modest man who attributes the store’s success to his staff and customers, the long-standing store manager DeSalles describes Lincoln as a “great community” and his customers as “a great mix.”