Northwest NEWS

September 23, 2002

Front Page

Family Grocer thriving despite chain store competition

When Safeway moved into Duvall in January 2001, there were those who applauded its entrance, relishing the convenience and larger selection the chain offered. There were also those who vowed loyalty to the Family Grocer, and yet, the mom and pop operation couldn't compete with the larger chain's name and volume. The smaller store stood in the shadow of Safeway and waited.
   A year and a half later, Family Grocer has not only emerged from the shadows, it is thriving, offering organic produce, meat, and dairy, and creating a specialized market for items that the mainstream Safeway doesn't carry.
   Dan Shands, owner and manager along with wife Joy, says the reason he is still in business is because of a loyal following of customers, and he is grateful because he knows they don't have to come to the Family Grocer.
   He has tried to serve customers by offering certain items at a lower cost.
   "It's a farming community, and dairy farmers hold down the prices," says Shands. "We've always known that there was going to be competition, but we are offering customers a way to shop the way they want to."
   Some of the items he is offering include organic produce, wine and natural foods. "We're just trying to do it a little different," says Shands. "We also aren't packaging things in large quantities anymore. We package things for people who want to cook tonight."
   Family Grocer is also one of the few places around where you can get milk in recyclable glass containers.
   The store offers competitive prices for meat and produce and will even repackage items to make the customer happy. They carry Washington Angus beef products that Shands says offer a higher quality and better taste.
   Shands believes that when the farmer gets paid more, as with organic meat and produce, they can provide a higher quality and better product. "People shop both stores, depending on what their needs are. With a balance between mainstream and organic, we offer another choice for people."
   In a world where mom and pop stores can go under quickly, Shands knows that to survive you have to be different. "It's little things, like the cup holders on the carts and the shopping carts for kids."
   Even the store name tells the philosophy. Family Grocer employs about 30 people, but Shands considers them another family.
   tions. It is important to him that employees are all treated the same. Joy can even be found bagging groceries when the store gets busy.
   It boils down to liking to serve people, says Shands. Were just happy to still be here.
   Family Grocer is open 7:00am to 11:00pm daily, and is only closed Christmas Day.
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