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Grocery Outlet Opening Sends Shoppers Scurrying for ‘Wow’ Deals
Friday, June 25, 2021


Shane Anderson took oversized scissors to a giant supermarket cash register tape just before 8 a.m. Thursday morning. And, with that, the 400th Grocery Outlet store in the nation opened for business on Main Street Hailey.

A hundred people, including some of the 40 employees of the new store, watched the ribbon cutting, then lined up to receive complementary BlissBucks gift cards ranging from $5 to $400 as they walked through the doors.

“Aiiiiii!” screamed Vee Peterson, of Carey as she opened her envelope to find out she had received a  card worth $400. “I’m shocked! In awe. I’m just so excited!”

The supermarket, which opened in Hailey’s long empty King’s store, is not a one-stop supermarket.  Wood River Valley shoppers will still want to shop at Atkinsons’ Markets for deli and bakery items, as well as a larger selection of some items and many of the specialty items that Atkinsons’ provides.

But Chamber member Jane Drussel, who owns Jane’s Artifacts, said the store will be a nice complement: “It offers some nice pricing so it fills a need. It’s my hope that a lot of people who go to Twin Falls to shop for groceries will stay and shop in the community, and that will benefit other retailers.”

Hailey residents Carol Scriven and Melody Domke and Bellevue resident Lindsay Rager showed up at 6:30 a.m. for the 7:30 ribbon cutting. Each nursed a McCafe as they brainstormed logos for the new store that they hoped would help families struggling to buy groceries in an area that boasts the nation’s fifth highest food costs.

“I’ve been in Grocery Outlet in Twin Falls and Boise and the prices are great,” said Scriven. “They’re  making shop local a reality.”

“They have such variety,” said Domke. “Bringing savings to the local people….the happy locals.’”

“And they have good brands like Ben & Jerry,” added Rager.

Within minutes of opening there was a traffic jam on Aisle 10 as shoppers piled into the store, scrutinizing the shelves in search of bargains.

“I’m not surprised,” said Hailey Police Chief Steve England, encouraged to direct the traffic.

The opening of the store brought 20 corporate personnel from Grocery Outlet’s headquarters in the Bay area, including CEO Eric Limberg.

The chain started 75 years ago as a military surplus store offering deep discounts on items which were piled up on the floor, said Kyle Noble, director of Regional Marketing. An independent owner in Redmond, Wash., began offering canned goods in the 1970s and the concept quickly caught on. Over time the supermarket added fresh produce, meat, fish and dairy as it evolved to its present look.

Noble said the Hailey store, which sports about 14,000 square feet of sales space, is a “good-sized store” for Grocery Outlet.

A few items, such as a single bottle of Coke at the checkout stand, cost the same as you’d find at other markets. But shoppers can save between 40 percent and 70 percent on most items, said Noble.

On Thursday, for instance, shoppers could by a box of Capn’ Crunch cereal, a plump avocado, a box of Ritz crackers or a carton of large eggs for 99 cents. A box of Pirate’s Booty snacks that might sell for $19.99 elsewhere was $7.99, while a box of 12 KIND bars was selling for $5.99, a markdown from a top price of $21.99. A 44-oz. bag of frozen Gourmet Dining Garlic Chicken that might have cost $9.99 elsewhere sold for $6.99. A 3-pound bag of frozen blueberries that might have sold for $9.99 elsewhere cost $5.99. A can of Campbell’s Mushroom Soup cost 99 cents.

“Wow!” cards marked especially good deals, such as a box of Ritz crackers for 99 cents.

Lindt chocolate bars filled the shelves under a sign that said “Today’s Deals are Here for Now but Not for Long.” A variety of nuts sat under a sign that said “New Day New Deals.”

A Michel-Schlumberger California red wine sold for $5.99 versus the $19.99 it might have cost elsewhere. A tag on the wine aisle noted that Wine Enthusiasts has named Grocery Outlet one of America’s 50 Best Wine Retailers.

Customers can also find garden hoses for $5, along with an array of other household items and beauty care products.

Noble said Grocery Outlet’s buyers take products off the hands of such manufacturers as Kellogg’s when they have a packaging change or surplus.

“When they’re in a pinch, they’ll call and say, ‘We have 15 truckloads of Cheerios. Can you take it from us?’ ”

Grocery Outlet is embarking on the 11th year of its Freedom from Hunger food drive, having raised $11 million for food pantries the first 10 years. It is matching donations for The Hunger Coalition up to $4,000 during the month of July. People can buy for a $5 bag of groceries destined for The Hunger Coalition. Or, they can offer a cash donation.

Bags are filled with such items as raisins, specifically requested by The Hunger Coalition, said Noble.

Anderson also handed a $1,000 check for The Senior Connection to its executive director Teresa Beahen Lipman just before the ribbon cutting. Lipman said that demand for The Senior Connection’s services have grown 437 percent due to the pandemic and added that a thousand dollars will provide 200 meals for seniors.

“We are most grateful that they have considered the Senior Connection, along with the Hunger Coalition, to demonstrate their dedication to keeping people free from hunger,” said Lipman. “Atkinsons’ is also a big part of our March for Meals and Albertsons donates day-old pastries and desserts. There’s room for all!”


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