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Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Downtown Grocery Opening Soon

posted by on April 10 at 12:29 PM

The Kress Supermarket will open in June at Third and Pike downtown. According to a press release sent out today, the new grocery will be “unique in its commitment to green practice with its embrace and support of local vendors, low-impact product packaging, and mix of materials.” While it’s exciting to see a full-size (18,000-square-foot) grocery going in downtown, I wonder if it might be “greener”—not to mention better for the 18,000 people who actually live downtown, as opposed to the people who just work there—if the store focused less on prepared, ready-to-eat packaged foods (which will take up 40 percent of the floor space) and more on locally sourced, organic produce, meat, eggs, and dairy. Do we really need another M Street Grocery, with acres of packaged salads and sandwiches but little fresh produce and nary a butcher to be found? Or do downtown dwellers subsist entirely on products made and packaged for them by someone else?

(Thanks to Bethany for the tip!)

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Not when they're 3 blocks from the biggest produce market in the NW.

Posted by c | April 10, 2008 12:32 PM

Oh, excuse me - I thought this was the plastic bag thread.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 10, 2008 12:33 PM

Yeah, but PPM closes early -- 5:30 or 6, right? If I lived downtown, I would definitely want a place I could shop at AFTER work.

Posted by ECB | April 10, 2008 12:35 PM

@1: Trying doing some after-work shopping at PPM. Or picking up toothpaste or Cheerios. The downtown has been a big ol' food desert for a while.

Posted by bma | April 10, 2008 12:36 PM

I live in Belltown, and it fucking sucks, grocery store-wise. I'm so excited for this joint for the reason stated above--if I get out of work at 5:30 (or later) and walk home, as I usually do, most of Pike Place Market is shuttered by the time I get there. Plus, Ralph's and Dan's Belltown just don't cut it and are basically double the price of Capitol Hill groceries, so I usually end up buying what I need at the QFC on Pike and Broadway and walking home with it. It's pretty annoying. But also--prepared foods suck, but even if 40% of the floorspace is taken, the other 60% will be a godsend.

Posted by Ari Spool | April 10, 2008 12:44 PM

There's a Bartell's and a Walgren's about two blocks from PPM where at least the toothpaste is available. Cheerios, on the other hand, are probably a bit more challenging to locate downtown after 6:00 p.m.

And I wonder, if, when the downtown residential population hits a certain critical mass, PPM won't need to consider allowing some of its operators to extend their hours, if for no other reason than it would give the local residents a chance to shop there without having to deal with the immoveable masses of tourists who generally clog the place up during the afternoon.

Posted by COMTE | April 10, 2008 12:47 PM

Sounds like the same hollow promises from Madison Market. Their idea of focusing on local, low packaged, organic food is about a keenly focused as any store in town (QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer, etc). Their dedication seems to be to Cal-Organic and General Mills, oh, excuse me...Cascadian Farms.

Posted by mattro2.0 | April 10, 2008 12:56 PM

erica, supply fulfills demand. if there was sufficient demand for the crap you think it should carry, don't you think the people who make shelving decisions would thusly supply it?
This is what you do constantly ECB; you think what you would like to see without consideration as to why it doesnt happen. and even if you do, it is under the guise of snark and without a truly informed opinion.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 10, 2008 12:57 PM

You know what would be really green? If they just sold air and carbon offsets.

Posted by Andrew | April 10, 2008 12:58 PM

Funny you should mention M Street Grocery. My concerns for the new store is about cleanliness and safety, and my thoughts go back to M Street's predecessor - that awful little hole called 1st Hill Market. Remember? If you didn't get raped or your throat slit in the parking lot, you slipped on puddles of piss in the store and feared for your life until you got far, far away.

I exaggerate, of course. But safety and cleanliness was a real issue there and it seems this new store might be serving in large part the same crowd - namely, without naming names, those who only want off-brand cigarette and cheap 18% wine.

The management of the new store has to be preparing for this, right? Especially since they'll be open until - what? - 8 PM?

Posted by Bauhaus | April 10, 2008 1:07 PM

detest guised snark.

Posted by unPC | April 10, 2008 1:13 PM

What do you you have against the people who live downtown who sometimes just want to buy something ready to eat or at least microwavable? It seems like PPM and Whole Foods already cater to the foodies.

Posted by elswinger | April 10, 2008 1:24 PM

erica makes a good point. when the store opens, we burn it to the ground.

Posted by some dude | April 10, 2008 1:28 PM

I agree with Bellevue @ 8, if not with his snarky tone (sorry BA) - the new store will stock more local veggies if that's what downtowners want. If they prefer the suburb-under-the-skyline experience, prepared junk will remain on 40% of the shelves.

Posted by Matt from Denver | April 10, 2008 1:29 PM

Yes, we all know that downtown condo and apartment dwellers have no use for quick, easy prepared foods. They all think exactly like Erica.

Posted by tomcat98109 | April 10, 2008 1:31 PM

Bellevue Ave: Supply and demand has nothing to do with it when pretty much every packaged product in almost every grocery store is there because of the millions of dollars of slotting fees paid to the grocers.

Posted by poppy | April 10, 2008 1:31 PM

12: My point was that it sounds like it'll be a lot like Whole Foods, except with less fresh food--Whole Foods' big selling point for its store in South Lake Union is that they focus on packaged, ready-to-eat products. What do you have against people who live downtown who want to be able to buy fresh food after 6 pm?

Posted by ECB | April 10, 2008 1:32 PM

Actually, COMTE, chain drug stores usually have small grocery sections. I bet that Cheerios can be found in both those stores.

Posted by Matt from Denver | April 10, 2008 1:32 PM

I love the butcher at M Street. He's always very helpful.

Posted by Alan | April 10, 2008 1:36 PM

I'm not a ECB fan but some of you pick on her for the slightest thing. It's kind of lame.

I think she is lamenting that there is a need for a "normal" grocery store in Central Seattle; one that isn't an overpriced yuppie fortress or a cash n carry type processed food court, and that it sounds like this new, poorly named store, only partly fills that need.

I thought there was talk at one point, of a Safeway/QFC type store in South Lake Union?
Or did Alien Overlord Paul Allen put the kibosh on that for that not fitting in with his vision for his own personal Epcot?

Posted by michael strangeways | April 10, 2008 1:37 PM

Has anyone seen this mountain?

Posted by Molehill | April 10, 2008 1:38 PM

ECB, you should just move to PDX. Seattle sucks. It long ago got taken over by wealth and greed and is so far gone, it's not going to change. South of the border, we all realized this and do everything we can to avoid those mistakes. And I believe there's a sister paper to work for down here... You can replace Matt Davis.

Posted by El Seven | April 10, 2008 1:42 PM

Hey Erica,

There is this really cool place that is 3 BLOCKS from the future site of Kress. You may not have heard of it, it is called the PIKE PLACE MARKET!!!!! The market has local, organic, as well as local & organic fresh fruits and veggies. They also carry locally sourced meat, eggs, milk, etc.

I am guessing that the demographic research shows that the downtown urban market is still predominately 20 something’s and empty nesters who live active, on the go lifestyles who like the healthy high quality grab and go products.

I would also venture to guess that the other piece of the demographic is the downtown worker lunch crowd (who might also stop in to grab the family dinner before hopping on a bus back to Alki, Ravenna, or Seward Park). Makes a lot of sense.

Posted by Fresh Fruits & Veggies | April 10, 2008 1:44 PM

You really make shit up, don't you Erica.

The press release says produce, meat, a bakery, and "everything else you'd expect to find in a full-service grocery". So where do you get the idea they think downtown dwellers subsist on packaged food only?

You always like to point out that things could be "greener". Well yeah; it would be greener if the Stranger quit putting out a paper edition delivered by exhaust spewing trucks, and if you all wrote with a quill pen instead of using energy eating computers, and if you all quit traveling so much. But you wouldn't do that, would you.

Damn, are you ever pleased about things or are you a perpetual downer?

Posted by elrider | April 10, 2008 1:59 PM

What do you have against people who live downtown and can't afford Whole Foods?

Posted by JTC | April 10, 2008 2:02 PM


I did consider that possibility, but seeing as I'm not a cereal-eater, I didn't want to assume Cheerio's could be purchased at a Walgren's without knowing for certain.


A new QFC did just open a few months ago on 5th Ave N & Mercer St., kitty-corner from KCTS, so that's probably the one you might have heard about.


Snarkiness aside, the problem with citing PPM as a "local" produce shopping destination is that for many downtown residents it's not terribly convenient to shop there, unless they also happen to work downtown within a reasonable walk/bus distance from it, and can go there on lunch breaks.

Otherwise, the 6:00 p.m. closing time for the produce stalls means it's completely impractical for people who live downtown, but work elsewhere, not to mention the fact that, during most months of the year, the huge unbalanced ratio of tourists-to-locals makes it a less than ideal shopping location during daytime hours.

That's why I suggested extending the operating hours beyond 6:00 p.m. as a possible way to entice downtown residents to shop there, since by then most of the tourists would have wandered off to their hotels, or to restaurants or other activities, leaving PPM reasonably navigable for locals.

Posted by COMTE | April 10, 2008 2:04 PM

This IGA will also be extremely close to Pike Place Market, where you can buy all those things listed - at least in the day.

Posted by Gabe Global | April 10, 2008 2:09 PM

Yeah elrider, 'cause you don't do ANY of those things, now do you?

Fucking Hip-o'-crite.

Posted by COMTE | April 10, 2008 2:09 PM

Go green! I urge someplace downtown where I can buy some locally produced unfiltered eco-rainwater in recycled urine specimen jars. Oh, and a hard pack of Camels.

Posted by Creek | April 10, 2008 2:11 PM


I'm aware of that new QFC but I consider that lower Queen Anne and not South Lake Union. I think there WAS some vague talk of another regular grocery store in SLU but obviously nothing has come of it, which will suck for the Amazonians moving that way in the future, many of whom have gotten used to buying food at Uwajimaya.

Posted by michael strangeways | April 10, 2008 2:37 PM

Sure, it's west (just slightly) of Aurora, so technically you're right about the geographic location, but it's still within easy walking distance from most points north of Denny in the SLU neighborhood, and for some folks, it's a lot closer than the Whore er, Whole Foods on Westlake & Denny.

I sure would have liked to have had it there when I lived in SLU, as it would have cut my walk to the old Larry's or Lower QA QFC by about half.

Posted by COMTE | April 10, 2008 3:02 PM


My point is that Erica is always complaining that someone else's proposal, plan, or suggestion isn't green enough for her while she engages in the activities I listed. She's the Environmental Eeyore, for christ sake. Nothing's ever good enough.

I, one the other hand, do not bitch about how others fail to achieve some mythical level of greeness (except for self-righteous Stranger reporters). I walk to work and home just about every day, but I don't give a shit if Erica drives her exhaust spewing little Vespa to work. I'll let her conscience be her guide.

I do not deny engaging in consumption - I just won't lecture you about your failure to be green enough.

Posted by elrider | April 10, 2008 3:09 PM

Note: Grocery stores are not a social service organization. They are in business to make a profit.

The reason almost all grocery stores have large sections of prepared foods these days is because there is huge profit in gourmet pasta salad, and almost no profit in a tube of toothpaste. Consumers tend to be very price sensitive to everyday sundaries, and don't bat an eye at paying $12 a pound for curried tofu.

Basic economics 101.

To add to that, the lease on 18,000 in downtown is probably a whole lot more than leasing that much space in Kent. If you want any sort of grocery store downtown, then you are going to have to live with a model that is profitable.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | April 10, 2008 3:20 PM

Right, because making a POINT of touting your own eco-superiority (ooh, you "walk to work and home just about every day"!), while at the same time berating someone for riding their "exhaust spewing little Vespa to work" - as if that were somehow the moral equivalent of driving a fucking H-2 - isn't lecturing, it's - um, wait, it's right on the tip of my tongue -what's another word for that? - scolding? deriding? haranguing? reprimanding? Well, something along those lines.

But, yeah, no lecturing there, none whatsoever, yep, you bet.

Posted by COMTE | April 10, 2008 3:21 PM

40% packaged foods, give or take a few percentage points, is pretty much what I see in every conventional grocery store everywhere. Everything's packaged these days - half of the fruits and veggies at my local Safeway are in sealed plastic packages.

Posted by Hernandez | April 10, 2008 3:26 PM

Regardless of whether the new grocery store at 3rd and Pine has a larger-than-necessary stock of ready-to-eat foods, I, for one, am always delighted to see a grocery store open in an underserved area. I think a halfway decent grocery store within walking distance is a requirement for carless urban living, don't you? And unlike so many other types of businesses in that area -- which cater primarily to tourists, or office workers on their lunch breaks, or people who can afford to spend $200 at the hair salon -- a grocery store is actually useful to practically everyone who lives and works in the area.

And what's up with dissing the M Street Market? Yeah, they've got a lot of pre-packaged crap, but I always figured that was because they can make more money off that stuff. Downtown rents aren't cheap and my understanding is that retail grocery margins are pretty darn low, so if a bunch of overpriced plastic-wrapped sandwiches is what it takes to takes to get a grocery store in the neighborhood, then so be it. Someone else can buy the sandwiches, and I'll take the opportunity to pick up some onions and peas on the way home from work for some homemade risotto. True, there isn't a ton of selection in the fresh produce section, but the basics are always available and crazy-out-of-season-shipped-from-thousands-of-miles-away stuff is pretty much non-existent, which I like.

@10: As for urban grocery stores (like M Street's predecessor) attracting a skeezy element, I think it's a matter of what kind of crowd the store is courting. Stores that sell fresh flowers and 18 kinds of cheese attract yuppies, while stores that sell single cans of malt liquor and $5 bottles of fortified wine attract chronic alcoholics. (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Convenience Store At The Corner Of 5th And Jackson. Stop pretending like you don't know why there are so many sketchy people in your store. There are sketchy people in your store because YOU SELL SINGLE SUPER-CHEAP CANS OF MALT LIQUOR IN A BIG ICE BIN RIGHT NEXT TO THE CASH REGISTER. You should thank the winos and mentally unstable vagrants who frequent your shop instead of treating them like vermin. They are your bread and butter.) M Street is decidedly upscale. I hate that word, but it's apt in this situation. M Street's extensive (non-fortified) wine section and fancy vinegars and multiple varieties of fresh-baked naan don't appeal to people who are attempting to get fucked up as cheaply as possible, so I don't see the sketchy element becoming a problem there, and it's certainly not one now. I shop at M Street a few times a week and see a reassuring mix of folks (young, old, blue collar, white collar, trendy, non-trendy, etc.) picking up their groceries. Assuming that the new place on the 3rd and Pine is modeled along the same lines, I don't see sketchiness being a problem.

Posted by Kalakalot | April 10, 2008 3:36 PM

Am I the only one who is just happy that we will have something close to a real grocery store in downtown Seattle?

I mean really, WTF is wrong with most of these Sloggers? An IGA is much more affordable than going to Whole Foods via the Streetcar to no where (which when I come in every morning is nearly empty) and buy overpriced prepackaged foods under the faux notion that it is somehow "organic". Yeah, organic food being forced on me by someone with tattoos all over their body. "Excuse me, is that organic ink that you had injected into your skin? Wonder if that will cause cancer in a few years?"

Posted by Bitch bitch bitch | April 10, 2008 3:41 PM


I thought I was writing a post about how a "reporter" was making up shit and ignoring facts in order to show how everyone always fails to live up to her high standards of greeness that she herself doesn't meet. I did indeed intend to lecture, harangue, and scold on this point.

However, I let me crabiness get the better of me. Humbled by your admonishment, I will go back to the more realistic expectation that SLOG posts are not intended to be about facts but about hyperbole. In that light, nevermind what I wrote before.

Posted by elrider | April 10, 2008 4:06 PM

Elrider - You're right, there is nothing in the press release to make anyone think that this store will only have prepackaged foods. It remains to be seen how good or bad the fresh food sections will be, and it is very premature to criticize the store before it opens up. I think it's great that downtown is getting a grocery store, finally, and I hope there are more to come.

Posted by twee | April 10, 2008 4:38 PM

OK, are you all stupid? No one is asking the post important question: What the hell is this going to do to the Pike Place Market???

I hope it at least puts DeLaurenti out of business, that store is such an empty shell of its former self--someone should put it out of its misery. All IGA has to do is under cut their prices and Whole Foods by dimes and they'll be jammed.

Posted by i get the point | April 10, 2008 4:45 PM

In case anyone else was looking for the exact location and doesn't want to research, its going to be in the basement of the building on the "southwest" corner of 3rd and Pike, underneath the Starbucks/OfficeMax/Coldstone.

Posted by w7ngman | April 10, 2008 5:09 PM

And MY point elrider was that it's rather hypocritical to call Erica out on some shit like this, then do exactly what you say you're NOT doing - namely, lecturing her from a supposedly higher ground of moral-superiority than she's taken.

If you want to denigrate her for her holy-than-thouness, by all means go ahead - but don't turn around and attempt to deny your own sense of smug superiority, particularly when you make it so patently obvious to the rest of us that's where you're coming from.

Posted by COMTE | April 11, 2008 9:12 AM

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