East Tacoma Grocery Outlet set to open Thursday

Welcome to Heidi and Ricardo’s store.

Ricardo Santiago and Heidi Snyder are East Tacoma Grocery Outlet’s independent owner-operators. The store is set to open Thursday (March 28), and the festivities will include a donation presentation to the Nourish Food Bank.

The grand opening is a long time coming for the Tahoma Vista Shopping Center near the intersection of East 72nd Street and Portland Avenue.

The shopping center’s owners have made a concerted effort to revive the center after the loss of Kmart in 2017.

A new, bigger Big Lots opened there last October next door to the Grocery Outlet.

Santiago and Snyder have come up through the ranks of the grocery chain, starting in North Seattle, then transferring to South Tacoma, then Lacey, then Olympia. Santiago is originally from the Tacoma area, and the couple has lived here nine years.

They live within five miles of the store, the first they have owned and operated.

After working for the chain for years (Santiago nine, Snyder 12), “We made the jump,” said Snyder. “It’s kind of a lifelong dream for me. Once I started and found out I could own my own Grocery Outlet, I was all for it.”

They got the call in January that they were getting the new Tacoma store. They’ve been prepping since then and stocking for the past three weeks.

Now, it is very much their store. A sign above the entrance says as much, with their portrait.

They pick and choose what merchandise takes prominence, so they put together a “Wow” wall near the entrance that’s a 99-cent display.

With those items, “You can make a dinner for between two to four people for around $5,” Santiago said.

Murals in the 21,000-square-foot store tie it to the area’s icons, the Dome, the mountain, orcas. The graphics and store’s signs make it the third store in Grocery Outlet’s chain to offer a new look, Santiago said.

They also can make displays based on community preferences “as long as it helps to brand and grow the business,” he said.

“And helps the community,” Snyder added.

Its produce department is concise, with all of items easy to find at a glance. Its meat department includes organic, local offerings, and there are nondairy options in the milk department for those with lactose intolerance as well as organic eggs.

Its “NOSH” aisle (Natural, Organic, Specialty and Healthy) “provides a good price for these items, where our competitors could be double the price,” Snyder said.

There’s also a wine department, which will host a free tasting on opening day from 4-6 p.m.

The new store created close to 40 new jobs and was able to bring on two of the shopping center’s former Kmart’s workers, one having spent 18 years with the retailer and the other one 10 years, according to Santiago.

“So it’s like they’re back home,” Snyder smiled.

East Tacoma Grocery Outlet

Grand opening: 8:55 a.m. Thursday (March 28), 1410 E. 72nd St., Tacoma.

Goodies: The first 200 customers receive Grocery Outlet gift cards ranging from $5 to $200, and all shoppers will receive a free reusable bag, while supplies last.

Contest: Through April 25, customers can enter for a chance to win free groceries for a year ($100 a month for 12 months).

Regular store hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.