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Asian grocery store to open at former Walmart

The owners of a large Asian supermarket company with stores in the Rochester and Syracuse areas has bought the former Walmart superstore on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst, with plans to open a third location for their fast-growing business.

Rockey and Ling L. Ren, through Asian Center Mall LLC, paid $4 million to buy the 125,000-square-foot store at 2055 Niagara Falls Blvd. from an affiliate of developer Benchmark Group. The building sits on 26 acres in Benchmark’s Willow Ridge Center, directly across a large parking lot from a Home Depot store, just north of the Interstate 290 interchange. The store was vacated when Walmart relocated to 3290 Sheridan Drive.

Ben Schiller, the real estate agent at Pyramid Brokerage Co. who represented the Rens, said that Rockey Ren is “still formulating his ultimate plan but that he will be occupying a good deal of the building” for his new market. “This is his first play in the Buffalo market.”

The Rens, who have lived in the Rochester area since the 1990s, decided to open Asia Food Market in a former furniture outlet on Brighton Henrietta Town Line Road in the Town of Henrietta in 2007, after finding the available selection in each of the existing Asian food stores to be too limited. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

“We wanted to provide the convenience of having the widest selection of fresh Asian foods under one roof to the Rochester community,” the Rens wrote on the store’s website.

The company expanded with a store in Syracuse last year and recently decided to look at Buffalo, as well. The Walmart store had not actually been listed for sale, as Benchmark had intended to lease it, but the two sides agreed to a deal, Schiller said. “We were looking for a period of time for a building to purchase, and there’s a limited supply of big-box retail for sale,” he said. “It’s strategically located near the UB North Campus and what most consider the strongest-performing retail area of Buffalo.”