By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
The rumors have been floating around Allied Gardens for months — that something was going into the old Albertson’s at Waring Road and Zion Avenue.
It’s now officially confirmed. Contracts have been signed, and the process has started to bring a Grocery Outlet store to the building.
Grocery Outlet is already going through the permit process with the city, and that’s not expected to be a problem, which means the residents of Allied Gardens can expect a grocery store in the space that has been vacant for over two years.
It won’t be alone there — there will be a Dollar Tree store sharing the space. Dollar Tree spokeswoman Shelley Davis said its facility will have a separate entrance, and will occupy about 9,000 square feet of space within the old Albertson’s facility. That should leave plenty of space for the Grocery Outlet operation.
“We’re shooting for an October opening date, and we’ll be looking to find potential employees for that store, hoping they’ll look at Dollar Tree’s website and applying for positions there,” Davis said.
On balance, neighbors are happy they’ll have a close-by grocery store they can walk to. Allied Gardens is basically a residential area, especially right around the store location.
“It’ll be good to be able to walk to the store when you need to,” said resident Bobbie Perez. “After Albertson’s closed, the closest market was the Vons down on Mission Gorge, and that place is a mess to get into and out of. I’m not that interested in the Dollar Tree part of the deal, but I’ll take a look and see.”
Lane Occthielo says he doesn’t know much about Grocery Outlet, but he’s willing to walk over and give it a try.
“I understand they’re a little different — they may not always have the name brands that other stores do, but they’re supposed to be cheaper,” he said. “I don’t much care about the Dollar Tree concept, but whatever works for them.”
People on the whole seem happy to have any kind of store back there. Before the Albertson’s was shut down in February of 2015, there had been a grocery store there for 60 years.
It all started with a Food Basket, which became a Lucky, then finally an Albertson’s (although not part of the overall Albertson’s company. It was a separate, independent operation that shared the name).
The Allied Gardens Kiwanis Club tried to step into the breach, as it were, by lining a farmers market one day a week in the parking lot, but that didn’t last long.
Property manager Linda Lasher says the owners of the shopping center believe the new grocery store will bring people once again into the center and also entice businesses into the last empty spaces there.
“We really only have one closed business in the center, now that Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree are locked in,” she said. “There are people looking at that business, a closed bank building, seeing what might be done with it. There is another space, but that was being loaned free to a church group to run a discount type store. They’re moving out as we speak, and we already have a new tenant signed up for that space.”
So, when the Grocery Outlet opens, likely in late summer or early fall, what will we see?
We’ll see a store that looks like what we used to see, but operates very differently.
You will often see brands you don’t recognize on the shelves, but you will also see many brands you’ve known all your lives.
The complaint about “no name brands” is pretty much a fallacy, according to Marc Drasin, real estate vice president of Grocery Outlet, Inc.
“About 60 percent of what we sell is opportunistically purchased national brands. We do not have a private label,” he said. “This means that the manufacturer could have made too much, and we’ve bought the excess inventory, it could be a test item, it might have been part of a cancelled order from another chain. It could be any number of reasons.
“The bottom line is that prices of such items will be in the range of 50 percent less than you’d pay down the hill at Vons.”
One Grocery Outlet manager I know explained it this way.
“You come and buy a bottle of Hunt’s catsup (or ketchup, depending on your usage). A month later, you come and have to buy a bottle of Heinz catsup. It’s still good, just not the one you’re used to buying.”
Drasin puts this face on it.
“It’s a treasure experience for our customers.”
That might be stretching the window out of shape just a bit, but the experience does come with lower prices, if what you want is in stock.
The bottom line is that Allied Gardens is getting a grocery store back.
A lot of folks are very happy about that.
—Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at email@example.com.