Dawn Ivy attended the grand opening of WinCo Foods April 17 looking for convenience and better prices.
The South Tacoma resident usually shops at Fred Meyer on 72nd Street in Tacoma, but travels all over looking for the best deals. Ivy’s friend, Rachel Mackey, accompanied her to the opening and helped plan their shopping strategy.
“I’m hoping to get in and out,” she said. “Fifteen minutes is my limit.”
Ivy and Mackey were two of the hundreds of shoppers who lined up before 8 a.m. eager to see the new 104,000 square-foot, full-service grocery store located on South 72nd Street in South Tacoma.
The store, which employs 220 people, features extensive bulk foods, produce, meat, seafood, deli, and bakery departments. It’s open 24 hours every day, and doesn’t accept credit cards. Cash, debit and food stamps can be used. In addition, customers must bag their own groceries at the checkout.
During the opening, dozens of employees were on hand to answer questions, keep isles and produce boxes looking pristine, and help with crowd control. Officials said the crowd was mostly quiet and respectful.
South Tacoma lacked a full-service grocery store since Mega Foods closed almost a decade ago. WinCo is the latest edition of grocers that began returning to the area. Several months ago, Grocery Outlet opened on South Tacoma Way.
The launch of the Tacoma location marks WinCo’s 17th store in Washington. It operates 79 stores and four distribution centers in Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon and Utah.
WinCo store manager Ray Searcy was impressed with public interest and attendance during the opening.
“This has been an incredible opening day,” Store Manager Ray Searcy said. “We couldn’t be happier.”
Not everyone was happy though.
Several members of UFCW 367, the local labor union chapter that represents workers primarily in the food industry, picketed the opening because of WinCo’s non-unionized workers.
“Other local stores are going to be impacted,” said Denise Jagielo, chapter secretary/treasurer. “We just want consumers to be aware of where they are shopping.”
Cory Cross was one of many customers who walked out of the store pushing a cart full of groceries. She traveled from Gig Harbor to check out the new store and save a little cash on her weekly shopping. Cross usually spends about $100 per week at Albertsons, but managed to cut her bill in half at WinCo.
“It’s really great,” Cross said. “Saving money any way we can help.”