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

Central Co-op drops Capitol Hill Station bid over cost concerns

When the development opens in 2019, Central Co-op won’t be the retail anchor at the middle of thousands of square feet of new restaurants, shops, services and community space surrounding Capitol Hill Station. Interim CEO Garland McQueen announced the decision to drop its bid for the project Sunday night at the co-op’s annual owner meeting.

In a statement sent to CHS, McQueen said cost was the big factor: Continue reading

Central Co-op set for an E Madison facelift

Front Entry Elevation_132in sign Revised layoutCentral Co-op is getting a makeover, but nothing on the inside is going to change.

The building’s landlord, Madison Crossing, is working on some improvements to the exterior. Construction is expected to start within the next few weeks, and should last about five months, assuming there are no delays in permitting or construction, the co-op’s Suzanne Schultz told CHS. The building opened in 1998, and the Co-op, moved in shortly after.

Schultz said the store plans to remain open during its normal business hours throughout the construction. She said the interior layout and selection of products will not change, nor will the look of the inside of the store.

“Most of the work is not going to be happening in our store,” she said. Continue reading

Despite stormy economic seas, Whole Foods still set to anchor 17-story Broadway tower

The Danforth, still rising, its anchor Whole Foods, still coming to Broadway and Madison

The Danforth, still rising, its anchor Whole Foods, still coming to Broadway and Madison

As news broke this week that Whole Foods is pulling out of its plan for a new West Seattle store as part of nationwide cutbacks, CHS asked what about the company’s plans for The Danforth, the 16-story mixed-use building rising at Madison and Broadway.

A company spokesperson says plans have not changed for the Broadway store. “We are still on schedule to open our Capitol Hill store at the corner of Broadway and Madison in late 2018,” she tells CHS. Continue reading

Chophouse Row welcomes Cake Skincare, HONED jewelry, and neighborhood bodega Sundry

Katrina Rising, owner of Cake Skincare, stands in her new shop in Chophouse Row.

Katrina Rising, owner of Cake Skincare, in her new shop in Chophouse Row.

Cake Skincare has settled into its new Chophouse Row location and owner Katrina Rising is looking forward to meeting new clients.

“Now we are able to add on some more hours and that will give us some breathing room to play again with new people, which we’re so excited about,” Rising said.

Cake held its grand opening party in December and since the new year rolled in, the second location has hit a smooth flow, she said. The Capitol Hill location is the second Cake spot in Seattle with the first opening in Queen Anne in 2009 where Rising and her aestheticians have been building a reputation as the eyebrow experts of the neighborhood.

“The neighborhoods are different … and I really wanted each place to serve its neighborhood and have its own vibe of that neighborhood,” Rising said. Rising said Cake at Queen Anne was getting a bit squished. Now about half of Cake’s clients go to the Capitol Hill location for their beauty needs. “It really has been this pull, and I’m glad that we listened because people were really wanting us to come over here,” Rising said.

Along with Cake, two other new tenants also now call Chophouse Row home. Continue reading

E Pike rumor dot com: Amazon just might be opening a grocery store on Capitol Hill

It's not very interesting inside... yet (Image: CHS)

It’s not very interesting inside… yet (Image: CHS)

A bookstore in U Village. A drive-up grocery store in Ballard. A checkout-less convenience store on 7th Ave in Amazon-ville. With Amazon’s voice control platform Alexa reportedly “stealing the show” at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the retailing giant has also been busy innovating and testing new concepts in its home city. But, so far, none of its “meatspace” experiments have made a home on Capitol Hill, the neighborhood where many of its employees live.

That might be about to change.

CHS has learned that an Amazon executive central to the rollout of the company’s retail projects including 7th Ave’s Amazon Go checkout-less concept is involved in the giant and highly secretive retail project slated to fill a 10,000 square-foot retail space in the Mercedes Benz dealership-turned AVA Capitol Hill development in the 600 block E Pike.

A development manager for Avalon Communities declined to comment telling CHS he was not allowed to discuss the tenant and Amazon has not replied to inquiries about the project.

The Amazon senior program manager included in City of Seattle filings on the project worked on the University Village Amazon bookstore and the launch team for Amazon Go, according to his Linked In profile. Continue reading