Tri-Cities’ second Grocery Outlet opens on Road 68
A line of hundreds of eager customers waited patiently for Pasco’s newest grocery store to open.
The Black Friday-like line outside the new Grocery Outlet extended past the adjacent Planet Fitness and Dollar Tree stores that opened earlier this summer and wrapped around the corner of the building.
Some waited for more than an hour to shop in the new, 18,000-square-foot grocery store at 5710 N. Road 68.
They arrived early to be among the first 200 customers to receive gift certificates ranging from $5 to $200. All customers also took home their groceries in a complimentary reusable bag commemorating the grand opening.
Grocery Outlet opened in a $5 million, 13-acre development at the corner of Road 68 and Sandifur Parkway.
Grocery Outlet, a third-generation, family-led company based in Emeryville, California, has been offering customers savings on brand-name products found in conventional grocery stores and other retailers since 1946.
Through vendor partnerships, buying direct and opportunistic buying practices that take advantage of close-out and overstock inventory, the stores are able to provide customers with 40 percent to 70 percent off regular priced fresh produce, meats, deli items, dairy products, frozen foods, beer, wine, health and beauty care items, and more, including natural and organic products.
The stores also have home and garden sections, some clothing, and a wide array of kitchen tools, from pots and pans to bamboo cutting boards, food storage containers, and handheld implements like spatulas and ladles.
“At each store, you’re going to find something different,” said Jamie Lemire, regional marketing manager for Grocery Outlet.
Walking through the new store, the average consumer won’t notice a significant difference between their regular supermarket experience and Grocery Outlet’s shelves, though one doesn’t always find the same products twice due to how inventory is acquired.
Grocery Outlet promotes itself as “the fastest growing, extreme-value grocer in the U.S.,” with more than 300 locations throughout California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Pennsylvania, where it bought out the Amelia’s grocery chain to source more products from the East Coast and establish business in the region.
In the week prior to the Pasco store opening, two new stores opened elsewhere in Washington, and a location in Sunnyside is set to open next year.
Mirroring the company’s roots in being family-led, Grocery Outlet stores are independently run by owner-operators in their local community.
“The owner-operator model keeps the profits in the community and re-invested through charitable donations,” said Charles Grimm, owner-operator of the new Pasco store.
Grimm and his family were selected to take on the Pasco Grocery Outlet in May.
“We try to find the right people for the right store, the right community,” Lemire said.
Grimm was certainly qualified. He was brought up working in his family’s grocery store chain in the Olympia area and has spent 31 years working in the industry.
In 2006, he and his wife, Janice, moved to Franklin County and bought a small grocery store in Mesa called Mesa Grocery, which they operated for 10 years.
“After serving the community for over a decade, and unable to take the store to the next level, we began to wonder if it was best to move on,” said Grimm in his final ad for Mesa Grocery in June 2017. “We never did list Mesa Grocery for sale, but one day a gentleman came by and made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.”
He said his family still misses the relationships they forged in Mesa, but added, “Sometimes we must all make financial decisions based on financial reasons, and for us, this was one of them.”
Grimm said he wasn’t exactly sure what was next for his family, but luckily fate had it all worked out.
He was returning an auto part one day, and a Grocery Outlet happened to be across the street, which piqued his interest.
After accepting the fact that his family might have to uproot and move to own a Grocery Outlet store, plans for a future Pasco store were announced the first day Grimm began training to become an eligible owner-operator.
“I am thrilled to open a Grocery Outlet here in Pasco and bring the community a simple way to save money on their groceries,” he said. “The partnership with Grocery Outlet allows me to be a true entrepreneur, create new jobs and have positive impact on the neighborhood.”
“Really, it’s kind of like owning my little store in Mesa, but I have the support and the partnership of Grocery Outlet,” Grimm said.
Grimm and his family appreciate that the company’s values align with their own personal philosophies of being involved in the local community. In Mesa, Grimm and his family engaged at the school and civic level and hope to continue to do that in Tri-Cities.
“At Grocery Outlet, we have a saying: ‘Touching lives for the better,’ ” Grimm said. “It’s our idea that as people come in contact with our brand, whether it’s the service we provide or the money we can save them on their groceries, then they will be stronger because of it and so will our company and we will be able to go on to do this in other communities.”
As a first gesture of their commitment to the local community, the combined savings of customers who shopped during the new store’s first hour of operation were donated to the Tri-Cities Union Gospel Mission. Their savings versus what they would have spent at a conventional supermarket totaled $2,493.87.
Grimm also said he hopes to fill the 30 new jobs at the store with local hires and plans to partner with Columbia Basin producers to provide more locally-sourced food products in the store.
Grimm said he most looks forward to “making a difference in the community in which I live; being an improvement of the quality of life for my family and the Tri-Cities area community in general.”
He said he looks forward to working together with the existing Kennewick store, owned and operated by Brandon and Alycia Shaver, as well to host community events.
“I couldn’t imagine having a sister store with better operators. We’re going to be able to strengthen the brand in the community, to grow the brand and the reputation of the brand … to achieve greater recognition in the Tri-Cities area,” he said.
The Pasco store’s grand opening provided another incentive to shop at the new store: Customer could pick up entries for a chance to win free groceries for a year (up to $1,200) will be accepted until Sept. 20.
Pasco Grocery Outlet: 5710 N. Road 68, Suite 103; 509-492-4564