Friday, June 23, 2017 This Week's Paper

Tacoma Welcomes New Grocers

// Tacoma City Grocery, Tacoma Food Co-Op offer expanded options

Starting this month, Tacoma residents have two new – and very different – places to shop for groceries.

Downtown along Pacific Avenue, IGA officially opened its new Tacoma City Grocery on Sept. 7. The full service grocery store features a bakery, deli, meat counter, and full produce section.

Across town, members of the Tacoma Food Co-Op celebrated the grand opening of its new brick-and-mortar location along 6th Avenue on Sept. 10. The co-op features locally-sourced produce, meats, dairy and dry goods.

Tacoma City Grocery Manager Charlie McKissick is still working with his staff to iron out last minute kinks, but for the most part he says the store has been received well by locals.

“The general attitude has been, ‘it’s about time,’” McKissick said. “We’ve been hearing very positive feedback from customers.”

For now, the store will remain a regular fixture in the city. The Myers Group, which owns the IGA grocery store brand used by Tacoma City Grocery, signed a five-year lease last February with Pacific Plaza to run the 16,000-square-foot store at the corner of 13th and Pacific avenues. The new grocer employs 35-40 people, McKissick said. Two assistant managers have experience working in urban grocery store environments, specifically the chain’s downtown Seattle location.

Inside, the store reflects its urban surroundings with bright front windows, orderly stocked shelves and a spacious dining space adjacent to the deli. The store also features an extensive wine selection, and validated parking for customers who spend $10 or more.

These new amenities have attracted curious office workers and have kept the store’s deli packed during the lunch rush, McKissick said.

“We’re planning on rearranging the back deli area to accommodate,” he added.

Tom and Kathy Absher stopped by the store’s deli to grab a sandwich and a bowl of soup. As part owners of the building leased by the store, both said they were impressed by how the store managed to transform the space.

“I knew it would be quality,” Kathy said.

Tacoma Food Co-Op

After nearly five years, Tacoma finally has a space for its 3,200-square-foot store. The natural and locally-sourced food store officially opened its doors Aug. 26 with much acclaim from members and neighbors.

“It’s not about a food store, it’s about building a community,” said co-op volunteer Christopher List.

While many cities, including Seattle and Olympia, commonly have co-ops, Tacoma’s grand opening marks the first time Pierce County has had a member-owned, volunteer-staffed co-op grocery store.

“It’s a wonderful environment to be a part of,” List said.

On the store’s shelves, customers will find healthy choices, including organic foods, unprocessed food, or foods without additives. Other options follow strict dietary guidelines, including gluten free. Some brands may be recognizable to Tacomans – Mad Hat Tea Company, Valhalla Coffee, Terry’s Berries. Honey comes from Heavenly Honey Farm in Puyallup, and Rainier’s Main Street Cookie Company has a display in the store.

Co-op members are also open to new food makers and have left space on their shelves to accommodate a growing future selection. But, all products must meet one or more of three criteria: organic/natural, local or sustainable.

Since opening a permanent store, the co-op membership has grown, general manager Henri Perren said.

“The support has been tremendous,” he said. “The community has really been supporting us in an awesome way.”

In the future, the co-op will offer discounts to members on its products, Perren said. The store will also eventually add space for a deli and more bulk foods. Perren hopes these additions will encourage more people to join.

“It’s not distant or corporate,” he said. “It’s here and it’s local.”

Tacoma City Grocery (1250 Pacific Ave. in Tacoma). Open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. For more information, call (253) 830-5755. Tacoma Food Co-Op (3002 6th Ave. in Tacoma). Open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon-Sat, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. For more information, call (253) 627-3344.