From the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Santa Cruz, CA):
Grocery Outlet drawing the curious, the budget conscious
New Watsonville store celebrates grand opening Saturday
By Donna Jones
Sharon Delgadillo pushed a cart through the frozen food aisle at the new Grocery Outlet just after 9 a.m. Monday.
Owners Nate and Dawn Harrell are celebrating their second Grocery Outlet, the latest at Main Street and Auto Center Drive with a grand opening Saturday, but they opened the store Thursday with little fanfare.
Curiosity and the hope of bargains drove Delgadillo, a lifelong Watsonville resident to stop by. She wasn't disappointed. Picking up a bag of frozen peas from a cart loaded with laundry detergent and prepared appetizers, she marveled at the price - 79 cents for what she said would be well over a dollar elsewhere.
"They don't have a big, big, big variety," Delgadillo said. "But the frozen food is cheaper, and the canned goods. ... Oh, I'll shop here."
A few aisles away, Aptos resident Donna Hipkins was browsing the health and beauty section with her aunt, Lucy Kovacich of Watsonville, who pointed out her favorite brand-name shampoo.
"We came in to see how it looks and at the prices," Hipkins said. "I didn't expect produce."
But there it was, everything from pineapples to peppers. Nearby, a cold case held deli selections.
The Harrells, who opened their first Grocery Outlet two years ago in Salinas, describe their business as a full service grocery store, built on an "opportunistic" model.
The Berkeley-based family-owned Grocery Outlet buys surplus inventory for distribution to independently owned and operated stores to sell at discounts of as much as 60 percent.
Nate said he can't wait to find out each day what's available to order.
"It's like Christmas," he said.
And like the gifts under the tree, everything in the store is new and shiny - the shelves, the freezers, even the floor.
As part of a remodel of what was once a newspaper office, the concrete was pulled up and a new slab laid down. Inside, the store is bright, with shelves loaded with merchandise lining wide aisles.
Energy-efficient lighting and appliances will help keep utility costs down, the Harrells said.
Outside, the building has been made over with a contemporary facade and earth-toned paint.
The store also brought 40 jobs, about 70 percent full-time, the Harrells said.
So far, the Harrells have been advertising by word of mouth, and have been overwhelmed by the response. Customers have come from as far away as Felton, where a popular Grocery Outlet closed a few years back,
"We were hammered the last couple of days," Nate said. "It's been super busy."