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A new Outlet for food bargains

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Sage Manning stacks boxes of cereal at the new Grocery Outlet in East Wenatchee on Tuesday as the store prepares for opening.

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Grocery Outlet Bargain Market

What: Independently owned and operated discount grocery featuring brand-name items and fresh produce at 40 to 70 percent off.

Who: Owned by Carl and Kathy La Force

Where: 315 Valley Mall Parkway, East Wenatchee. (In the former Food Pavilion location at Wenatchee Valley Mall.)

When: Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Info: Phone: 470-8477. Web: groceryoutlet.com, Facebook.com/eastwenatcheegroceryoutlet.

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EAST WENATCHEE — Carl and Kathy La Force years ago fell in love with the Wenatchee Valley but couldn’t figure out — business-wise — how to live here.

Problem solved. They’re about to sell us groceries. 

The La Forces will open East Wenatchee’s new Grocery Outlet Bargain Market at 315 Valley Mall Parkway in the former location of Food Pavilion at Wenatchee Valley Mall. It’s the discount grocery chain’s third location in North Central Washington after Wenatchee and Moses Lake. 

The couple plans a soft opening on June 29 and a grand opening on July 1 for the 14,500-square-foot-store. It will have 32 to 35 employees. 

Grocery Outlet “offers great prices on all kinds of brand-name products because of what they call ‘opportunistic buying,’” said Kathy. “They find wines, food items, health care products — you name it — that they can buy in quantity and sell at low prices.”

For instance, Kathy added, Grocery Outlet scouts the wine industry for vintages changing names or labels. “Good wines, even great wines, that a company doesn’t want to market under the old name often find a place on our store’s shelves,” she said. 

Grocery Outlet has also stepped up its buying in recent years to include more types of products and more top-name brands, said Carl. “I’d say we now have twice the variety of five years ago.”

In addition, the store welcomes new items by smaller producers and manufacturers — think organics and natural foods — who can’t always get their products on the big grocery chains’ shelves, said Carl. “Competition there can be fierce.”

Experienced grocers, the La Forces owned and operated a Grocery Outlet store for last six years in Oakdale, California, south of Sacramento. They sold it when they moved to East Wenatchee. Before that, Carl worked for Larry’s Market in Seattle, and both he and Kathy ran an organic farm near Arlington. For years, they’ve owned a cabin in Liberty, the historic mining camp on Blewett Pass. 

Less than two months ago the couple was contacted by Grocery Outlet’s corporate office to see if they’d like to run the new East Wenatchee store. They said they jumped at the chance, but first had to make sure their longtime grocery friends — the Martin family of Cashmere — didn’t have hopes of running the new location. Mike and Michelle Martin, along with their son Billy, operate the Grocery Outlet in Wenatchee. 

The Martins decided not to expand across the Columbia River. The La Forces said yes to Grocery Outlet’s offer. 

We’re excited to be part of this community,” said Kathy. “We’re serious about getting to know our regular customers — names and face — and supporting local school programs and civic causes.”

The La Forces said their store in California was deeply involved with the local 4-H and FFA programs. Locally, the couple said they’ve already contacted Wenatchee-based Lighthouse Christian Ministries to find out how to donate to its mission and food banks. 

This is sort of a dream come true for us,” said Carl. “We’ve been wanting to get back to Washington and, in particular, back to the Wenatchee area. And here we are. It’s wonderful.”

 

 

 

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business. follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.