Gig Harbor, your new Fred Meyer mixes Main & Vine favorites with traditional grocery

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for Gig Harbor grocery shoppers.

On the heels of the announcement that Kroger’s only Main & Vine store was closing, the city’s new Fred Meyer is undergoing its final round of stocking and preparations.

The store’s opening is set for Jan. 10, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that morning and plans to carry on Main & Vine’s emphasis on fresh and local food.

Still, saying farewell to Main & Vine has been bittersweet for its fans. People were waiting in line outside that store Tuesday to check out its closing sale.

But, shoppers, take note: This Fred Meyer is something different.

While the new store isn’t a full-scale Fred Meyer (it won’t be selling apparel, furniture, bath towels or luggage for example), it still brings plenty of new items, including roomier aisles, a pharmacy and gas station as well as an in-store bar, pizza oven and made-to-order sandwiches.

And of course, a Starbucks.

The store also is gaining more space as it moves from one of the smallest marketplace models in the Fred Meyer chain to just under 60,000 square feet.

Justin Morris is the new store’s manager. This is the third Fred Meyer he has managed, having worked most recently at the current Gig Harbor store.

The new store, in the works for years as part of the new Olympic Towne Center on Point Fosdick Drive, has seen development delays move its opening day time line several times.

An initial hiring event last summer wound up placing many of the new store’s workers “into the existing store to get acclimated and trained,” according to Morris.

The new store also hired from Main & Vine.

“Of the 80 Main & Vine associates, we took 54. QFC absorbed 16,” Morris said Wednesday.

Morris said about 20 of the Main & Vine workers already were there helping to stock the new store.

That includes dry goods, which for the most part are stocked in the store’s health and beauty, natural foods and grocery departments.

Next comes the setup for perishables. The last to arrive, shortly before the opening, will be items with the shortest shelf life, such as milk and bread.

While the new store will carry on with Main & Vine’s focus on local brands, this store also offers the usual assortment of traditional center-aisle packaged items — boxed cereals, macaroni and cheese and other processed foods — something that wasn’t emphasized at Main & Vine.

Some of the regional brands that are carrying over from Main & Vine: Cutter’s Point coffee, Fox Island Trading Co. soaps and lotions, Ellenos Yogurt along with other local yogurts.

There also will be a Kombucha growler station similar to Main & Vine.

“Seafood is expanding,” Morris noted. That department will be “eight feet larger with an open-air seafood case and engagement center manned seven days a week spotlighting unique items.”

There also will be cooking demonstrations.

Given the wait, Morris is ready to open and get going.

“We’re really excited to open this with all the new selection,” he said. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised.”

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell

What’s new at store

Elements shoppers will notice at the new store:

▪ Gas station (which opens Jan. 10) with 14 pumps.

▪ Pharmacy (will operate seven days a week).

▪ Wider aisles (existing store: 6 feet wide; new store: between 8-10 feet minimum, with some even wider, according to Morris.)

▪ Starbucks with free in-store Wi-Fi hotspot and indoor/outdoor seating.

▪ An expanded natural foods department, with six times more space for frozen offerings and a larger bulk bin section. There is a peanut butter and almond grinder, and the store will be adding a cashew butter grinder. Think of it as “a natural grocery store within the grocery store,” said Morris.

▪ Full-scale cosmetics section.

▪ Stationery (Papyrus brand) and office supplies.

▪ Small appliances (blenders, for example).

▪ Cork & Tap in-store bar with seating area next to a Murray’s Cheese kiosk. The bar will have 16 wine varietals and eight beers on tap “focused on local whenever possible,” Morris said.

▪ Expanded wine section with custom-made wine display shelving.

▪ Expanded meat department with digital menu boards and handmade seasonal pork sausage made daily in-house.

▪ Expanded bakery with Top Pot doughnuts and larger cake case.

▪ Expanded deli with brick-fired pizza oven offering flatbread pizza varieties and a made to order sandwich bar.

▪ Sushi bar.

▪ New displays for produce using custom-made wooden tables and an expanded produce department with 16 feet of organic and 30+ new varieties of organic produce.

▪ Expanded floral department.

Source: Fred Meyer