National Market has become a Turlock staple over the years for shoppers in search of fresh, quality meat and a staff that feels like family, but those who frequent the locally-owned business will have to head somewhere else as the store prepares to close for good this summer.
“I’m kind of apprehensive about what’s going to happen next, but I think it will be good,” National Market owner Don Ow said with a laugh. “I’m going to wake up one morning and not have to go to work which is kind of strange, but I’m sure I’ll adjust.”
Ow has worked at National Market since he was a young boy, spending his time outside of school and sports sorting bottles, stocking the shelves and even working behind the meat counter as a teen. His grandfather Jue and father Jing opened the market in 1951, making Ow the third generation to operate the store.
“I don’t know anything else,” he said. “With me being the oldest son, I was kind of expected to take over.”
Throughout its nearly 70 years in business, National Market’s meat counter has provided customers with not only its excellent cuts, but amicable service that comes along with a purchase. Butchers often season the meat to the shopper’s liking, and even answer questions customers may have about how to cook their steak or what to serve alongside their pork chops.
The beloved market’s following is made apparent by just one quick Yelp! search, where it’s difficult to find a negative review for the store.
“I love this little store,” one user wrote. “It’s obviously not the most modern market in the area, but the meat section is known as the best in town and the staff is super friendly…this is a throwback to the good old days of neighborhood markets.”
Another user marveled at the fact that she could customize the size and shape of the meats she purchased at National Market, where they cut her steaks smaller and sliced her bacon extra thick.
“I’ve tried doing this at other supermarkets in the area and am always told no,” she wrote.
Ow knows that the National Market’s meat counter will be missed, as it was the store’s biggest draw.
“The meat counter is what kept us going all these years,” he said.
The store is still doing fine, Ow added, but said that it’s just time for National Market to close. His children have all graduated college and are pursuing their own professional careers, leaving no one to take over the market one day. Ow and his wife also recently welcomed their first grandchild and are looking forward to spending time with their new family member in retirement.
“The time is demanding, and we want to be able to get away and do anything we want without being stuck here 24/7,” Ow said.
While Ow’s father passed away about 10 years ago, he and his 85-year-old mother Virginia still operate the store together. They’ll miss the Turlock community they’ve come to know well throughout the store’s decades, where they’ve seen generations of customers pass through.
“There are some bigger stores in town, but we’ve always had the support of Turlock,” Ow said. “People still come in to say hi to my mom, and we see the grandchildren of people that we’ve known and who my mom remembers come in.”
Ow said that National Market will operate for six more weeks, but hasn’t set an official closing date.
“We’ve loved being here in Turlock and we’ll still live here for the rest of our lives,” he said. “This store raised three generations of our family, and we really appreciate all of the people who have grown with us.”