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New Grocery Outlet keeps it in the family
Greg Powell, co-owner of the newly opened Grocery Outlet in Crossroads, has been in the business since he was 16, when he got his first job bagging groceries at an Albertsons.
“Grocery is fun,” said Jessi, Greg’s wife and co-owner of the location, which opened Thursday. “Retail is either in your blood, or it’s not.”
On Wednesday, employees put the finishing touches on displays, assembling produce stands and pushing out the last of the product. On Saturday, a number of events will be held at the store from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The location, at 156th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Eighth Street, has had many lives as an appliance store, a hair salon, a dry cleaner and formerly a karate studio. She remembers neighbors complaining of a small vagrant population in the parking lot, but their move said Jessi, “is like leaving your porch light on.”
“So far, so good,” said Jessi of the move. “...Any time you bring something new into the community, it brings light and activity.”
Grocery Outlet secures deep discounts by purchasing excess products from companies when orders fall through, a branding strategy doesn’t sell, or seasonal goods still have bulk orders left over.
“A lot of times a company will try desperately to stay relevant,” explained Jessi. “It’s consumer ADD...We get the overstock, the label change, the Oreo cookies that have orange Halloween filling, but they have a long code date on them, and my customers don’t care. They think it’s fun.”
She points to a gallon of organic apple cider: “$5.99, that’s the price we used to pay 20 years ago.”
The Powells hope to distinguish themselves from other locations with more organic products and gluten-free items (Jessi herself is gluten-intolerant). They plan to donate a palette of food to Hopelink down the road, and have made a point of attending neighborhood chamber meetings.
“We’ll continue to evolve,” said Greg. “We try to set the store based on what the demographic is currently, but we will evolve and that comes with focusing on our customers.”
The couple is optimistic about the venture. Demographic assessments of the neighborhood indicate that 36,000 cars drive both roads daily and the store will join what is already a commerce center with Crossroads Mall across the way.
“I have relationships at the old store [with customers] and I know their life story...It’s more grassroots than anything,” said Jessi. “I think it will be interesting to see how Bellevue interprets our model, if they embrace it. I think they will. We’re not a warehouse. It’s literally a mom and pop shop. It’s a locally owned grocery store.”