Monday, June 13, 2011

Resolute Foodie becomes Grocery Outlet Evangelist


High Quality, Unbeatable Prices, grocery basics and quirky selection of extras is a winning retail mix

Part #1: What is it, where are they and why should you care?

            Sweet Mexican yellow pear tomatoes, organic blue cheese, Cabot butter, Black Forest ham, Scharffenberger chocolate, marcona almonds, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Aquastar Tilapia Filets, Harris Ranch Beef, Aidell’s Sausage, Foster Farm chicken, Riedel Glassware, wine and beer, organic health and beauty aids, vitamins: top of the line brands and products, this is a small sampling of the products that friends and I have bought at Seattle area Grocery Outlets since the chain entered our market six years ago.
            I am a fairly, recent convert, I first ambled into the Kenmore, WA location in summer of 2010. I had passed the original Kenmore location for years and was under the impression that only canned and packaged food were being sold there. The new location’s colorful orange and red logo caught my eye behind the free standing Starbucks on SR 522, east of the Kenmore Safeway. I entered and couldn’t believe my eyes, that first day I spent over an hour in the store going down every aisle looking at everything.
            Grocery Outlet is the nation’s largest grocery extreme-value retailer. Grocery Outlet offers brand name products at 40% to 60% below traditional retailers. Headquartered in Berkeley, California, Grocery Outlet currently encompasses 150+ independently operated stores in 6 Western States. Grocery Outlets are located in cities large and small and serve all kinds of neighborhoods. Most stores are independently operated by locally-based families. At this time there are 40 stores in Washington state.
           Grocery Outlet is like nothing I had seen before, there are products you will find at main stream grocery stores: dairy, fresh fruits, vegetable and meats, cheese, frozen foods, health and beauty and the list goes on. Additionally, there are also products and brands you won’t see anywhere else and that is what excites me every week when I go there. Expect the unexpected. I have always been an adventuresome consumer. I was an early adopter of sample shops, Overstock.com and Craig’s List. I go with a general list, but then depending on what is new or seasonal, I put together a menu or a meal plan once I am in the store.
            Don’t go trying to find mustard, especially Dijon, or unbleached flour, I have never seen it. I have also never seen fresh fish, wouldn’t expect to. However, I do, buy individually frozen Tilapia filets from Seattle based Aquastar. I find very high quality, beauty and hair care products, and when I do, I buy multiple jars or cans: tomorrow it might not be there. Early on, I saw a very well dressed women load 14-gallon jugs of 100% Ocean Spray Grapefruit juice into the back of her Lexus. Around Super Bowl this year, I saw a long haired chap with an overflowing cart of Pabst Blue Ribbon at the checkout. In addition, I admit that my pantry holds cases of artichoke spread, jarred red cabbage from a famous maker in Germany, a couple cases of my favorite Duck Pond Pinot Gris and tomato puree in heavy paper pouches from Italy that is truly amazing.
            I have calculated that my saving in the last year has been between 25% – 30 % on my entire grocery bill compared to the year before.  I augment certain items by going to mainstream grocers, but my trips to Costco and Trader Joe’s have also diminished, dramatically. For the record, we are a two person household with very high standards who, these days, cook or have meals stockpiled so that we can eat easily at home 5-6 nights a week. We are doing this for health reasons and economics. We also majorly  entertain friends and family at home at least 3 times a month.
Coming Next:
Part #2 Interview with Madrona (Seattle) Grocery Outlet owner Steve Mullen 
Part #3 Grocery Outlet Dinner-Step by step photos and recipe for a fast, affordable and stunning family meal for 6! 
Herb Brined Foster Farms Chicken w/summer Vegetables a la Grocery Outlet
       

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