New grocery store coming to Tacoma's Browns Point

First full-service store in years scheduled to open in April

Tacoma News TribuneMarch 18, 2014 

The Lighthouse IGA is scheduled to open April 16.

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A deli. A bakery. Beer, wine and spirits, too: Browns Point soon will be home, again, to a full-service grocery store.

The Lighthouse IGA is scheduled to open April 16, its owner said Tuesday, giving residents of northeast Tacoma a closer option for stocking their pantry.

"The QFC is 2.4 miles away, not that I've measured," said Mark Vanderveen, the managing partner of the group that owns both the store and the shopping center it anchors just off Marine View Drive. "We're trying to pull all the people who live in Dash and Browns points. If they go in, see the store, they'll want to come back."

The IGA will be the first grocer there in almost 10 years. The last store was Browns Point Market, and before that it was Art's Village Foods. That QFC is the closest full-service store now, and it's far enough away that most people say it's in Federal Way. (It's just inside the Tacoma city limits.)

Charlene Camoza, a resident since 1968, remembers all the way back to when the Browns Point grocer was Bergie's. When all the grocers closed, she said, "we were sunk."

"People really miss having their grocery store there," said Vanderveen, who lives north of Seattle but who said he has made the rounds of community groups to understand what people want. "We're not opening a store, we're bringing a store back."

Vanderveen, his wife, and two other couples bought the Town Center strip mall in 2005. The property has always struggled, Vanderveen said, requiring the owners to subsidize the mortgage. Recently they ponied up more: $1.5 million to build and open the IGA after upgrading the whole shopping center's facade.

The grocery store, at about 14,000 square feet, will be managed by The Myers Group, which recently closed its store in downtown Tacoma. Vanderveen estimated the Lighthouse IGA will employ just three or four people.

The IGA is the shopping center's biggest upgrade, but others are planned, Vanderveen said. A florist and a yoga-studio owner have expressed interest in leasing space. The ACE hardware store and diner are thriving. Vanderveen plans an expansion of local watering hole The Sandbar, with more windows facing the water. 

Finally, Vanderveen said he and his wife plan to take over and expand the menu at Browns Point Pizza, which closed this past weekend. "We are trying to do everything we possibly can," he said.

"A lot of people are anxious to have the store open," said Chris Johnson, a lifelong Browns Point resident and assistant manager of the ACE hardware store. "People will support it."

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