Discount food store Grocery Outlet opened its first Palo Alto store on Thursday, April 3, with a ribbon cutting and a grand-opening celebration following on Saturday, April 5.
The retailer has filled the 18,000-square-foot vacancy left by Miki's Farm Fresh Market, which opened in October 2012 but closed on April 1, 2013, in Alma Village, the mixed-use development near East Meadow Drive. The Palo Alto City Council's 2009 approval was contingent on including a grocery store at the site. An Albertson's store had previously failed at the location.
Miki's, which opened to much fanfare, was a high-end market that faced heavy competition from other local grocers with similar ambitions. But Grocery Outlet will fill a niche not previously available in Palo Alto by offering name-brand products at a 40 to 70 percent price reduction, owner-operator Tony Tenaglia said. The store offers items from manufacturers' overstocks, canceled orders and discontinued packaging. It also sells fresh produce.
The Grocery Outlet chain has more than 200 stores in six states, but each one is independently owned and operated, Tenaglia said. Previously, local shoppers would have to travel to Redwood City or Santa Clara if they wanted to frequent a store.
Some Palo Alto residents initially responded negatively to the idea of a discount grocer in their city, and others opposed a 26-foot vertical sign that stands out from the side of the building on the Alma Street side of the store. Grocery Outlet representatives told the Palo Alto City Council that the sign is critical to its visibility, and in December 2013, council members voted 6-3 in favor of the sign.
Standing amid balloons and merchandise on Wednesday morning, Tenaglia said the store is generating a buzz on Facebook and Twitter.
"We're very excited. The customer interaction has just been remarkable. In the last couple of weeks, it has gained momentum," he said.
The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce will host Thursday's ribbon cutting at 8 a.m. A grand opening on Saturday begins at 8 a.m. with free coffee and food. The first 500 customers will also receive free reusable bags. Customers can also enter to win prizes, including his and hers electric cruiser bikes, free groceries for a year and an Xbox360 game. Prize prize drawings will be held at noon on Saturday, May 10, at the store.
Grand opening event attendees can also purchase a hot dog and soda for $1, with the proceeds benefiting the City of Palo Alto Teen Leadership and Youth Community Service. Tenaglia also plans to donate a pallet of food worth $1,000 to Innvision Shelter Network, and will present the donation at Thursday's ribbon-cutting.
The new store is located at 3445 Alma St., Palo Alto.