See why this new retail store fills an important void in a neighborhood – and may even attract Lents neighbors to this locally-owned business …
What was once an eyesore is now a new, locally-owned – but nationally-backed – full line grocery store in Brentwood-Darlington.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For more than a decade, smaller grocery stores have been closing down in SE Portland neighborhoods, leaving shoppers no choice but to travel to distant “superstores” to buy everyday household necessities and food.
For those living in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood – especially if they use mass transit, bicycles, or travel on foot – picking up even a few items for dinner has often meant a substantial commitment of time and effort.
When the grocery store at on SE Flavel Street at SE 72nd Avenue closed several years ago, neighbors lost a valuable resource, as Alma C. Flores, Economic Development Planner at the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability pointed out. City retail sales statistics say, Flores reported, that there’s been about four times more demand for readily-available groceries than there was supply.
“Looking at our data, I clearly see that that area of the city was certainly in need of an affordable, full-service grocery store,” stated Flores. “I see a wonderful opportunity … food and beverage stores and specialty food stores.”
These statistics apparently weren’t lost on Berkeley, California, based Grocery Outlet planners – who snapped up the empty building, which then was in the process of being subdivided into small rooms.
Kathryn and Michael Luna welcome SE Portland neighbors to their new Grocery Outlet store.
On September 10, the owner/managers of the clean, brightly lit Flavel Street Grocery Outlet store opened its doors.
“Our corporate headquarters started considering the site a least a year ago,” pointed out Michael Luna, who, with his wife Kathryn, owns and manages the new neighborhood business.
“This is indeed our store,” Luna explained. “We went through a training program at another Grocery Outlet store, developed and submitted our business plan, and are responsible for putting this store together from the ground up.”
Although the store is new, Luna said he started in the business, as a youngster, sweeping the parking lot of another Grocery Outlet. He enjoyed the business, and advanced to being a department manager. After leaving to work at a “Cash & Carry”, Luna and his wife of twenty years decided to go into Grocery Outlet’s owner training program.
Kathryn, in addition to being the mother of seven children, has been a photographer, secretary, career cosmetologist, and a day care provider.
Checker Sarah Sanders says she lives just blocks away from the store. “It’s great for the neighborhood, and it’s adding a sense of community here, again.”
In addition to making available a needed service in the neighborhood, the couple is also providing something sorely needed: jobs. “We opened with 30 employees,” Kathryn smiled.
How has opening and running a store been for the Lunas, as a couple? “Actually, it’s been a great experience,” Kathryn replied. “In the beginning, I was a little bit nervous about it. The more we’re working together, the closer we become.”
Michael agreed, “I think it’s really helped us create an even stronger bond.”
Their store is located at 7120 SE Flavel Street, and is open every day from 8 AM until 9 PM. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE to open it.
© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News