Business

Grocery Outlet moving to new Kenmore location

After five years in Kenmore Village, Grocery Outlet owner Judy Bartlow is moving her store to the former Stupid Prices location in the Kenmore Square shopping plaza.  - TOM CORRIGAN,  Bothell-Kenmore Reporter
After five years in Kenmore Village, Grocery Outlet owner Judy Bartlow is moving her store to the former Stupid Prices location in the Kenmore Square shopping plaza.
— image credit: TOM CORRIGAN, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter

If you’ve looked up at the right moment while driving on Northeast Bothell Way, you already know discount supermarket Grocery Outlet is about to get a new Kenmore location.

According to Judy Bartlow, owner/operator of the Grocery Outlet currently sitting in the largely abandoned Kenmore Village, the plan is to move her store from its present location the first week in April. The transplanted store will open its doors in the Kenmore Square shopping strip near the intersection of Bothell Way and 77th Court Northeast.

The new Grocery Outlet will be in the same storefront as the now-defunct Stupid Prices store. Signs announcing the coming arrival of the grocery store went up last week at Kenmore Square.

Bartlow said the former Stupid Prices space is being completely remodeled and renovated. She plans on buying all new equipment, such as refrigerated display cases, for the new location, as well as adding restrooms at the Bothell Way store.

Bartlow added the current location will not close until the new store is open for business. She also insisted prices will not change along with her location.

“It (the move) is not a cost that is going to be passed along,” Bartlow said.

The new store is larger than Kenmore’s current Grocery Outlet, about 20,000 square feet as opposed to 14,000 square feet. Bartlow said the extra footage primarily will be used as needed additional freight and storage space. The current store has some 24 employees and Bartlow did not indicate that number will change.

Incidentally, how exactly does one go about moving an entire grocery store?

Bartlow said she and her staff will receive out-of-state help from Grocery Outlet with moving stock from one store to the other. In preparation for the move, Bartlow said she temporarily will reduce the amount of overstock she has on hand.

“Instead of planning for two or three weeks, we will plan for one week,” she said.

City officials long ago earmarked Kenmore Village for a major renovation. But they also have long blamed a sluggish economy for a lack of progress regarding that renovation. Bartlow said there is no doubt the uncertain future of Kenmore Village is the reason behind her store’s coming relocation.

“The city has been back and forth about the timing of what they want to do here,” she said, stating she has been searching for an alternate location for some time.

Bartlow admitted she looked at spots outside Kenmore, but was adamant she never really wanted to leave the city.

“This opportunity suddenly became available and we took it,” Bartlow said of the former Stupid Prices space.

With the departure of Grocery Outlet, Kenmore Village has only a few remaining tenants, including the Kenmore Fitness Center and the European Deli. Bartlow said Kenmore Village business owners were offered new leases on their spaces. But there was an understanding that the city could serve tenants with a one-year notice to vacate at any time.

Bartlow said that for her, sticking around just didn’t make sense under those conditions.

“Their interest was in a five-year lease and a permanent location,” said Kenmore City Manager Frederick Stouder, who said he knew of Grocery Outlet’s intention to relocate.

He also said Kenmore City Council should be taking up the issue of the future of Kenmore Village in the next few weeks.

Council already has extended the Kenmore Village development agreement signed with Seattle’s Urban Partners. Stouder said had the original timetable been followed, the existing Kenmore Village already would have been demolished.

For now, the city’s long-range plans still call for a mixed use retail/residential development replacing the existing Kenmore Village and covering roughly 10 acres from Northeast 181st Street and 68th Avenue Northeast to the Park-and-Ride lot near Northeast 185th Street.

While the project long has been stuck in neutral, Stouder declined to second guess the city’s actions.

“Who’s to blame? Who created the current recession?” he asked.

For her part, Bartlow did not say anything negative about the city’s plans. She said she would have liked a fully occupied Kenmore Village, but said the lack of tenants hasn’t really hurt her business.

“It’s always amazing to me how many new customers we get everyday,” she said.

While husband Bill helps balance the books, Bartlow runs the store essentially solo.

She said she has no idea how many hours she puts in every week.

“I don’t think I really think about it,” she said.

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