Asian flavored H Mart in talks to fill key retail space at Capitol Hill Station

With PCC announcing its plans to open a new downtown Seattle store in 2020, another potential player appears to be off the board to fill the key anchor tenant space in the Capitol Hill Station “transit oriented development” project slated to finally break ground this spring after a decade of planning. After a series of names attached to the project have either backed out or moved on, CHS has learned that talks have centered on a new, growing part of the region’s grocery and retail economy.

Capitol Hill Station master developer Gerding Edlen is finalizing talks with Han Ah Reum Mart, Inc. to fill the key retail space in the massively important housing, commercial, and community development set to fill a block of Broadway surrounding the light rail station, a person familiar with negotiations tells CHS.

The company’s H Mart stores are known for their Asian foods and home goods. The U.S.-based chain featuring fresh produce, meats, seafood, snacks and more opened in the University District last summer even as a long anticipated downtown Seattle project has remained on hold. Continue reading

40 years at Central Co-op: People? Yes. Self-checkout? Probably not.

You have plenty of time to select a gift. Capitol Hill’s Central Co-op turns 40 this October — but the party planning is underway. You might want to think about a practical present, something useful on both offense and defense as the cooperative looks to thrive for another four decades against a growing array of competitors.

“We have grown and continued to thrive over the decades thanks to the participation of thousands and thousands of people who have joined in our collective-efforts,” CEO Garland McQueen said in a statement on the anniversary. “They have become owners, running for and serving on our board of trustees, working to keep our shelves stocked, and investing to keep our community effort strong for future generations. We truly are a community-grown grocery store.”

In the process of expanding to Tacoma — a new store for its southern partnership has faced construction delays but is now on track for a late summer opening — and having pulled back from ambitions that would have placed a second store on Broadway, Central Co-op remains a unique and robust force in local groceries with some 14,000 members and around 12,000 shoppers visiting its E Madison store every week. As it faces renewed competition and marks the four decade milestone, Central Co-op is also touting its local economic connections and a study that found 20% of revenue spent at the store went to goods purchased in Washington vs. 4% at grocery chains like QFC, Safeway, and Amazon’s Whole Foods.

It will have to do more to mark another 40 years. “Unfortunately we’ve become victims of what we do,” McQueen tells CHS about the high bar Central Co-op has set and mimicry from the big chains. “We’re going to have to be better.” Continue reading

Despite pullback on expansion, New Seasons plans to open Central District store in 2019

With a backdrop of corporate drama and shifting expansion strategies, Portland-based New Seasons tells CHS it remains committed to expanding to Seattle and opening a new grocery store in the Central District:

New Seasons remains excited to open the 23rd and Union location. Our plan is to open the store in 2019. We’ve already been working with a Central District Advisory Council (business leaders, local nonprofit representatives and neighborhood council members who serve the Central District) to understand the needs of the neighborhood.

As part of announcements this week that CEO Wendy Collie was stepping down, the company announced it will pull out of its plans for new stores in California. Continue reading

Here’s why QFC is closing off its Harvard Ave entrances

This one at the Harvard Market QFC will see “similar changes” next

To cut down on theft — especially of the chain’s most popular target — QFC is planning to shut down the backside Harvard Ave entrance at both of its Capitol Hill stores on Broadway.

Weekend shoppers found changes at the Broadway Market store implemented over the weekend with the Harvard Ave doors across from the library closed to shoppers. A company spokesperson explained the change to CHS — and got some quality marketing into the statement:

We are focusing on putting our people in the front and center of our business. This includes our customers, associates and vendor community. We’re honored to be able to present an abundance of fresh and local Pacific Northwest products to our customers. We consider ourselves to be champions of our local farmers and vendor partners and in order to support our people, we need to be able to run a safe and profitable business. In short, we need to be paid for the product that we put on our shelves, which in turn will allow us to continue providing the best products and promoting our local businesses.

“We expect that these increased security measures will allow us to continue to serve our customers at the highest level while also limiting the amount of unpaid merchandise that leaves our stores,” the spokesperson said. Continue reading

So, when is Amazon Go-ing to open its E Pike store?

(Image: Amazon)

Amazon Go, the company’s cashless, employee-less, checkout-less, quick mart concept is now out of the alpha-beta grocery phase and has been unleashed on the real world of 7th Ave to solve your snacking needs. Check-in with your phone, let the shelf’s weight sensors log your selections like the world’s largest minibar, and be on your way.

It’s possible we might see one next on E Pike. Expect a wait. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society | The grocery revolution reaches Broadway

Seattle’s first self-service grocery chain, Groceteria, opened its Broadway store in the Summer of 1916 at 233 Broadway E, just south of Thomas. It served the neighborhood along with Capitol Hill and Renton Hill stores for a decade before its surprising collapse.

Listen to Rob Ketcherside’s interview with NPR 88.5 KNKX about Seattle’s Groceteria stores and the tragedy of Alvin Monson, from Saturday January 6. It repeats on air Monday January 8 at 7 PM.

It started with retail innovation: Prior to the 1930s creation of supermarkets, food in America was sold at specialty stores focused on individual product types: green grocer (fruits and vegetables), fish monger, butcher, baker, and grocer for example. They were clustered in neighborhood business districts and shared space in public markets. Contrary to the name, only two of the dozen-odd public markets in downtown Seattle were publicly owned. But they all guaranteed one-stop shopping and easy access to streetcar lines. If a Seattleite couldn’t find what they needed near home, they could certainly get it downtown.

After the onset of World War One in mid-1914, inflation set in worldwide. This included a rise in the price of canned and packaged foods that were sold at grocery stores. Grocers immediately felt strain on their service-rich business model. Most stores offered purchase on credit, delivery by horse and buggy and ordering by telephone. Notably “cash groceries” offered no-frills purchases. The standard shopping experience was like a deli: shoppers asked for items at a counter and it was slowly filled from the back while they interacted with one of the many clerks. Stores filled their shelves with piecemeal deliveries by distributors and layers of middlemen.

Within a few years, self-service shopping at chain grocery stores upset the industry. If you know anything about self-service grocery history, then you believe that Piggly Wiggly started it all in Tennessee in late 1916. The Smithsonian believes that. Wikipedia believes that. But it’s wrong. Continue reading

Seattle labor opposition continues for New Seasons plans at 23rd and Union

Pro-labor advocates opposed to the grocery chain’s planned arrival in the Central District gathered outside the office of Lake Union Partners Monday afternoon to hand over a letter asking the developer to reconsider plans for Portland-based New Seasons to anchor the East Union mixed-use project.

“As​ ​more​ ​upsetting​ ​news​ ​surfaces​ ​about​ ​New​ ​Seasons,​ ​we​ ​ask​ ​that​ ​you​ ​work​ ​with​ ​members​ ​of the​ ​Good​ ​Jobs​ ​Coalition​ ​who​ ​live​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Central​ ​District​ ​to​ ​address​ ​our​ ​concerns​ ​about​ ​New Seasons,” the letter reads.​ “​We​ ​don’t​ ​believe​ ​New​ ​Seasons​ ​is​ ​a​ ​good​ ​fit​ ​for​ ​our​ ​community,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​want​ ​to​ ​work with​ ​you​ ​to​ ​find​ ​a​ ​solution​ ​that​ ​meets​ ​the​ ​needs​ ​of​ ​long-time​ ​Central​ ​District​ ​residents.” Continue reading

Attention Capitol Hill QFC shoppers who carry reusable bags while shopping…

Last Drinks with Donna Summer

While you’re finishing shopping for your Friendsgiving feast, be aware of this note just sent to CHS from QFC HQ about upcoming changes:

Beginning late next week, customers at our QFC stores may notice some new signage asking them to only use shopping carts or hand baskets while shopping in our stores. With our busy stores, especially during the holidays, we want to ensure that all of our customers have a pleasant and easy shopping experience. At times, the process of unloading and reloading reusable bags at the register slows down the checkout process and causes delays.

The spokesperson tells CHS that the Ohio-based grocery chain is “not the only retailer to implement this change.” We asked if “lost prevention” was also a factor in the decision. “There are other benefits to this policy,” the spokesperson said, “but the main reason is customer convenience.”

Now you’ll just need to find an unused basket or cart. Good luck.

The move follows some more customer experience streamlining after QFC stores on Capitol Hill shifted from 24-hour operations to closing at 1 AM earlier this year.

UPDATE: E Madison’s Central Co-op weighs in: “We do prefer that people use shopping carts and baskets instead of shopping into their personal re-useable bags. It helps to prevent confusion at the registers.”


Community market stand small part of patching big hole with 23rd and Jackson Red Apple closure

(Image: Clean Greens)

When the Central District Red Apple closed this month as Vulcan readies plans to redevelop the store’s corner of 23rd and Jackson, residents of the CD lost a community resource and one of the only big grocery markets in the area. Lottie Cross, the director of Clean Greens, a nonprofit market stand and CSA, and 55-year resident of the Central District, came to the rescue. Providing no-pesticide, herbicide-free collard greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkins, sweet corn, and many other vegetables, Clean Greens is filling a small part of the big hole left by Red Apple’s closure.

“They (Vulcan) came to me,” Cross tells CHS. “Last Saturday was our first day in the new location — we sold way more than usual. At least 50 people stopped by and almost bought us out.”

Formerly located at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Saturdays, the Clean Green market stand now pops up across the parking lot from the old Red Apple, near the Walgreens. According to Cross, Vulcan partnered with Clean Greens to provide access to healthy food “for as long as possible.” It’s up to the weather to decide how long the stand is there, but Cross expects to have a presence through December, and maybe after.

Cross tells CHS that any leftover vegetables go to Operation Sack Lunch, a nonprofit that provides free vegetarian meals throughout Seattle. Vulcan supplies a tent, and funding for one person to run the market stand, but other than that, it’s a purely volunteer organization. The purchase of seeds, the lease, and payment for their farm manager, Tommie Willis, comes from money raised through the CSA program, which runs from July to October. Continue reading

Grocer New Seasons coming to the Central District at 23rd and Union

Another domino has finally clicked into place in the massive grocery cart shuffle game playing out in major developments across Capitol Hill and the Central District. As expected, Portland-based New Seasons has announced it will, indeed, be anchoring the Lake Union Partners-backed project on the northwest corner of 23rd and Union.

“The Central District is such a wonderful neighborhood, rich in history and culture. We are honored to join and serve this community,” New Seasons CEO Wendy Collie said in an announcement on the project Friday morning. “As a neighborhood grocer, we pride ourselves on creating gathering places that honor and reflect the culture of their communities, where everyone feels welcome to share delicious food, enjoy conversation and connect with one another.”

New Seasons is also interested in holding down the anchor grocer slot in the development projects set to arise around Capitol Hill Station. The grocer planned to open its first Seattle location in Ballard this year. Labor groups have opposed the company’s expansion to Seattle citing “an anti-union climate” at the company. Continue reading