A LOT of big things happened this week, starting with the Senatorial and Local Elections last Monday (May 13, 2013), the American Idol finale, Hollywood star Vin Diesel in Manila… One of the biggest events that took place tthis week was the opening of SM Aura Premier, the posh mall in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, to the public yesterday (May 17, 2013).
The formal opening and ribbon-cutting ceremonies actually took place the other afternoon (May 16, 2013), with the simultaneous opening rites of the mall itself, SM Supermarket, SM Department Store, Ace Hardware and some of the mall tenants. No, I didn’t catch a glimpse of Sarah Jessica Parker, but it didn’t really matter. I wanted to check out the mall, which houses a number of stores that you cannot find anywhere else, and even well-known brands have a different look at SM Aura.
One of the places you must really check out at SM Aura is SM Supermarket at the lower ground floor. SM Supermarket introduces a new urban market concept in this store, which sports a totally different ‘gourmet market’ look. It has a contemporary design and architecture inspired by the best supermarkets around the world and train stations in the West that have been transformed into supermarkets. New York-based retail design firm, Point Design Inc., divided the sprawling 9,300 square meters of floor space into different “worlds” for each section. There’s a unique vibe for each section, including the fresh, dry goods and international products aisles but, although divided into different sub-environments, the whole store interior shows that it follows a cohesive concept that ties everything together. As a whole, the store is painted in lovely subtle colors, has relaxing soft lighting and comforting wooden accents, boasts of spacious aisles that make shopping easier and more confortable, has clean and neat product displays with signage that make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for. Every single detail has been taken to make shoppers feel very welcome and inviting while shopping in a luxurious environment.
My favorite part of SM Supermarket Aura is the Fresh section. That means the fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood, poultry and meats section. Really cool! A lot of care has been put into not just making the displays really inviting to shoppers but also making everything easy to find. It’s a lot of help for shoppers who have very little spare time to do the grocery. I particularly liked the fish and seafood section, which I frequent in supermarkets. Instead of the usual open display of fresh fish and seafood on beds of ice, SM Supermarket Aura has them enclosed in sneeze-guard glass displays that allow you to take a good look at them, and the glass panel doors up front also make them easy to get to. The controlled environment makes it more hygienic and keeps the fish and seafood – including huge lobsters and beautiful prawns! – fresh longer. Also noticeable is that all food handlers wear spit guards while on duty.
It was also in the Fresh section that I found some merchandise that you don’t find in other places. I found some really nice fresh cherries and black and red plums, various kinds of fresh mushrooms, organic vegetables, imported herbs and vegetables such as fennel, artichokes and broccolini, plus imported brands of salad greens.
Also found some fruit carving in the Fresh section, with floral patterns, abstracts and even an image of SM Aura on papayas, pumpkins and watermelons. SM Supermarket Aura, it turns out, has this fruit carving station as a permanent feature.
The selections of frozen seafood and meats aren’t wanting, either, especially with the arrival of SM Supermarket’s Angus Beef, which makes really good gourmet meat – tenderloins, short ribs, rib eyes and striploins – readily available to consumers.
Also in the freezer and chiller shelves are unique finds such as Sara Lee ice cream and Farmer’s Union Natural Greek Yogurt.
Another feature of SM Supermarket Aura that I think is cool is the availability of ready-to-eat food items. Occupying a prominent corner of the supermarket is Chateau de France, which only uses ingredients from France in its freshly baked baguettes, croissants, quiches, pain choco and French macarons. Chateau also has a wide selection of cheeses and deli products, and makes fresh sandwiches a la minute.
But the coolest news about SM Supermarket Aura is its enhanced system of Queue Busters that reduce the problem of long lines at the cashier by scanning picked-up items even before you reach the counter. Customers only fall in one line (S-line), which is handled by multiple cashiers to avoid line stoppage due to petty delays.
Isn’t that cool?