Full-line grocery store opens at Division Station

Discover why so many outer East Portland folks say they are excited about this new “Grocery Outlet Bargain Market” opening in the Midway Business District …

All is quiet, on the evening before the grand opening of this new grocery store. It’s bound to get a lot more lively on opening weekend, March 2nd!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“This is great!” beamed Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Chair Mark White, as he looked around the new “Grocery Outlet Bargain Market” store that’s opened in part of the space abandoned by Albertson’s.

“After losing five grocery stores in the last couple of years, outer East Portland is finally seeing a grocery store move in!”

More than 100 guests agreed, as they explored the shiny new grocery store at its ribbon cutting ceremony, on the evening of February 27.

As the grand opening festivities get underway, Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Chair Mark White joins Mike and Tiffany Shaffer – the Owner/Operators of the new Grocery Outlet store, along with Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

“This is so exciting,” commented Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, shortly after she arrived.

“As a mother, I know having a grocery store easily accessible makes such a difference for how a family works. And, the fact that they are investing in this neighborhood shows that they’re taking ownership in the community.”

Unlike most grocery chain store operations, Grocery Outlet stores are not “company owned”, explained the new store’s proprietor, Mike Shaffer.

“Along with my wife, Tiffany, we are ‘owner/operators’ of this store,” Shaffer told East Portland News. “So, I’m not an employee. The business model is similar to a franchise.”

Folks are sure to be pleased with the well-lit, spacious aisles of the new store opening in the Midway Business District.

Shaffer said that even though he was a Safeway store manager for 17 years, that experience didn’t prepare him for being a business owner.

“Before bidding on this location, and opening this store, we spent a year and a half in working with the owners/operators of the McMinnville store,” Shaffer explained. “There, we learned – hands-on – the ‘ins-and-outs’ of owning and operating a store.”

The couple lives about ten minutes away from their store, Shaffer pointed out. “So yes, we really are part of our community.”

East Portland Chamber of Commerce Board Member Sara Fisher, of Human Solutions, enjoys the buffet at the grand opening.

The store will employ about 36 local residents, he added.

“Bringing jobs here is so important,” commented neighborhood leader White. “Especially considering that the underemployment rates here are absolutely astronomical. Bringing living-wage jobs into our area is absolutely critical.”

Grocery store ‘Treasure Hunt’
Although not as large as the vacated Albertson’s store, the new Grocery Outlet’s sales floor is a roomy 12,500 sq. ft., Shaffer said.

“Best thing about shopping at a Grocery Outlet is that it’s like a treasure hunt,” Shaffer pointed out. “You never know what you’re going to find. Some of the necessities like the milk, produce, and food staples are the same. But throughout the store, it is ever-changing.”

A shopper checks out some of the fresh local produce offered by the market.

Big savings come from the area stores’ combined purchasing power, and from obtaining closeouts and special deals from manufacturers. “But, people will always find that about 70% of our merchandise is recognized big-name brands. We get great deals, and pass them on to shoppers.”

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, community leaders and politicians each took a turn at the microphone to congratulate and welcome the new owners.

Oregon State Representative Jessica Vega Pederson and Representative Jeff Reardon listen, while Representative Shemia Fagan thanks the store for locating in outer East Portland.

Oregon Representative Shemia Fagan (D) of Clackamas District 51 proclaimed, “It’s great to have a grocery store here, especially with fresh vegetables. I really appreciate the fact that you guys are here. I look forward to shopping with you.”

Oregon State Representative Jessica Vega Pederson (D) of East Portland District 47 said, “This store is actually in my district; welcome to the neighborhood. I here with my husband and two kids – we live about three-quarters of a mile away.  I’m happy, actually very happy, to have a grocery store to shop at on my way home from the state legislature in Salem.”

Oregon Representative Jeff Reardon (D) of Happy Valley District 48 added, “I really love this area; I’ve lived here for more than 30 years. This is where my heart is.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz told the group, “On behalf of the entire City Council, thank you to Grocery Outlet for choosing to locate here.  It’s wonderful to have a community-oriented business here, providing good jobs, good food, and lots of good prices. Let’s make sure that we all shop local, and make the store prosper.”

Representing the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, Deborah Higa says she’s already “cruised up and down the aisles and found bargains”.

Wrapping up the ceremonies was East Portland Chamber of Commerce Government and Economic Affairs Committee Chair Deborah Higa, the Business Services Coordinator at Community Works Project. “Before I bring out my little friend, the ‘big scissors’ to cut the ribbon, first let me welcome to Tiffany and Mike, and the whole Grocery Outlet family to East Portland,” exclaimed Higa.

“I’ve already done a little cruising up and down the aisles – and you’ve get some of the best stuff at some of the best prices! It’s incredible. People are going to have a great time shopping here.”

Before the ribbon was cut, Shaffer pointed out a pallet of boxed food located near the front of the store. “This food is being donated to the new David Douglas SUN School Food Pantry.”

Snip! With a little help from co-owner Mike, Tiffany Shaffer cuts the ceremonial ribbon.

CJ Mead SUN School Coordinator from Metropolitan Family Service, and Judy Strand, CEO of Metropolitan Family Service.

Examining that pallet of food, the Metropolitan Family Service SUN School Coordinator at David Douglas, CJ Mead, told East Portland News, “Our food pantry is brand-new, it just launched last week. This will be good, and will keep us going – helping the families we serve in our community.”

The new pantry is important to have at the mid-County location, Mead said, “Because we provide emergency food boxes, as well as perishable foods. This helps to remove barriers to academic success, so students don’t have to worry about being hungry – they can be concerned about their academics. We’re very grateful to Grocery Outlet for this generous donation.”

As the celebration wound down, Powellhurst-Gilbert’s White reflected, “This is going to be wonderful for the neighborhood. Often, one successful store helps the whole business district. I really am hoping that this is the beginning of a resurgence for the area.”

About the store:

  • Grocery Outlet Bargain Market – Division
  • 12102 SE Division Street
  • (503) 802-6072
  • Open 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day
  • See their website: CLICK HERE


© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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