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SmartCo and Sunflower supermarkets are drawing supercrowds on opening day

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Today's a big day in the local supermarket world, and by big, we mean lines that reportedly started as early as 10 p.m. last night in anticipation of wee hour openings and accompanying giveaways and promotions.

The newest of the new kids on the block, SmartCo, opened its first supermarket this morning at 1442 Parker Road. Around 9 a.m., the place was bumping with eager throngs of people, sales flyers splayed widely before many of them.

The expansive, warehouse-y store looks like a cross between a Wal-Mart and a SuperTarget, with pallets of bottled water stacked up along one wall, an olive bar, gourmet cheeses, meats and bulk goods populating the other. Opening day freebies had people lined up at midnight, arguably earlier, SmartCo spokespeople say.

What's more, in defiance of the boatload of comments we got a couple weeks ago from people trying to get jobs with SmartCo, the store appears to have plenty of able employees on hand, so many of them dressed up in buttondowns and khakis for the occasion you'd think President Obama himself was perusing the produce.

SmartCo is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information call 303-597-1660. The next supermarket in the chain's planned five is slated to open at 5141 Chambers Road on July 14.

Over in Greenwood Village, meanwhile, things at Colorado's newest Sunflower Farmers Market, at 8557 East Arapahoe Road, were humming along at a more sedate pace. People were still thronging, for sure, but not with the urgency that seemed to be on the faces of SmartCo customers.

Where SmartCo has bulk, Sunflower has Boar's Head. Instead of cartoonishly large deli sandwiches, it has more humanly-portioned burritos. The new Sunflower is smaller than its dueling counterpart. It has fresh sushi and a full-service deli. A Sunflower employee was giving away mylar sunflower balloons to children.

A spokeswoman said people were already lining up for this morning's giveaways when she arrived at 4 a.m. A full day's worth of activities are planned for a small outdoor marketplace in front of the new store.

The new store is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. This is Colorado's tenth Sunflower Farmers' Market. For more information call 303-721-1400.

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