By Shiloh Ireland
December 23, 2022 (Lakeside) -- On Wednesday, December 15, Grocery Outlet held its grand opening in Lakeside. ECM has been in contact with corporate and the new owner-operator Cristobal Sanchez as he prepared for the occasion.
ECM arrived to a crowded store with fully stocked shelves and a very clean environment. There were prizes, Lakeside Rodeo Queens at the entrance and other outdoor attractions welcoming customers to the discount grocery chain’s new location.
The interior had helpful and smiling employees buzzing around stocking shelves and others operating the check -out stands. Customers were welcomed by a greeter; the owner and assistant manager were also talking to customers and making sure the operation was running smoothly.
The produce, dairy and meat department were stocked with fresh commodities. All shoppers received a $5 discount coupon on their recipients for their next visit. Perusal of social media comments indicated all positive comments for the store and meeting Sanchez.
How did this eight-month journey begin? Lakesiders saw remodeling of the site for months. Grocery Outlet is a corporate chain where owner-operators are selected and undergo rigorous training before they are placed in a store. Sanchez grew up in the area and desired this store. He was selected, trained, financially assisted and now leads this competitive business and brings many years to the grocer business.
Sanchez asked that his assistant manager, who is his brother-in-law, attend the interview and Gil Chavez was also accommodating. Grocery Outlet-Lakeside's journey began eight months ago for Sanchez when he was selected to own and operate this planned store. “ There were other individuals desiring this store but I believe my grocer and managerial experience qualified me,” replied Sanchez.
Chavez, from San Diego County, has been in the grocery business for over 22 years and started as a bag boy at Smart and Final and worked his way up to manager. 15 years later he joined Northgate Market which is a Hispanic Grocer chain. “I hired Gil as my assistant manager and he used to work in construction but had a catastrophic work -related injury and it took 12 years for him to be able to swim one lap,'” remarked Sanchez. “I enjoy working with people and enjoy the Lakeside Community.”
ECM asked Sanchez about the long hours a manager needs to operate a store successfully. “I have an eight-year-old, a three-year-old and a one-year-old and had this conversation with my family. We are building a better future and it is a labor of love,” says Sanchez.
Corporate Grocery Outlet sends daily lists of overstock product availability from manufactures. Store owners have the freedom to order what they desire or new items for their store according to Sanchez.
“Do the best you can” is what Grocery Outlet emphasizes after the rigorous selection of owners, training and the business model incorporation.
Sanchez was asked by ECM what the biggest challenge is in opening and operating the store. “We are optimistic, we have a good crew and we need to keep our shelves full,” he replied. “There are 30 good associates currently employed and 25 are from Lakeside or Santee.”
ECM asked Sanchez about addressing any homeless concerns that most grocers experience. “We care about people and respect each person and are teaming up with excess food organizations,” Sanchez remarked.
ECM asked Chavez and Sanchez what they would like to tell the community of Lakeside. “We are so happy for the enthusiasm Lakeside has shown us and enjoy greeting them,” replied Chavez.
Sanchez added, ”A big thank you to Lakeside and it has been a humbling and touching experience. We want to return the favor with great service and good prices.”
ECM found good prices and specials, adequate parking, uncluttered aisles, plus smiling and friendly staff. This reporter returned several times as a shopper and found the shopping experience as pleasant as opening day.
Grocery Outlet’s mission statement, from their website, states:
“Grocery Outlet Inc. (www.groceryoutlet.com) is the leading extreme value retailer in the United States, serving bargain seeking customers since 1946. Headquartered in Emeryville, California, Grocery Outlet has been family operated for almost 70 years and has a rich history of putting customers and employees first.
The Grocery Outlet Bargain Market brand currently includes over 340 + independently operated stores in California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Pennsylvania. The premise is simple: offer quality brand name products with savings of 40% to 60% below traditional retailers and sell them with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The product selection consists of frozen foods, refrigerated products, produce, fresh meat, general merchandise, health & beauty, natural and organic foods and beer & wine. Customers know they will find value in every visit as inventory turns continually creating a “treasure hunt” shopping experience.”
Grocery Outlet of Lakeside is located at 9720 Winter Gardens Blvd, Lakeside and operates seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and phone is 619.353.0261.