Tacoma City I.G.A. (Independent Grocers Alliance) grocery store opened on Pacific Avenue in September. Charlie Mc Kissick, store director, explained the other store locations, “This is the fifth one that our company has opened. We have four others scattered across western Washington at the following store locations: Ocean Shores, Camano Island, Snoqualmie Ridge, and Kress I.G.A. located in Seattle. Charlie continued, “It’s a family owned company; just saw owner walk by a second ago. Tyler Myers is the second generation of the Myers group that owns the company. Our store and company is very community oriented…single stores that serve their surrounding community.”
A store director for 12 years at Snoqualmie Ridge and 12 years at the Ocean Shores location, Charlie shared what he thought of the I.G.A. stores, “I’m a fan of the I.G.A. banner, they stand for community supermarkets. Our motto is: “hometown proud” we’re proud to be members of the communities we serve. I think the store is unique; it’s beautiful we’ve had a wonderful team between property owner, architects, interior design, and the store owner who had a vision of the entire package was able to pull the right people together to make it happen. And…I’m just excited to be part of it.” He discussed the best thing about the company, “The fact that they are independent they can mold into whatever the particular needs of their community are and we can respond to the needs of our community more quickly and compassionately. A big corporate supermarket has strict guidelines and structure to adhere to if they try to fit in as a community member. Their corporate guidelines may not allow them to break away from their mold, like an independent [store] will.
Our owner treats each store as its own entity within the community they serve. And the store directors and staff run that store in ways that best fit the market. Rather than saying from headquarter offices need to look the same because we’re part of this particular chain.”
Charlie discussed what many people may not know about the I.G.A. stores, “Most people don’t know we’re here. I think people don’t know the I.G.A .brand. I.G.A. has been in countries since the 1930s, but they had a peak in the 1960s and 1970s when big supermarkets were not the norm. Neighborhood grocery stores were the common way that people bought their food this day in age everybody knows about Wal-marts and Fred Meyers…the big stores we’re more of a community supermarket. We’re not the big giant stores we’re only 16,000 square feet here. But you can still provide full service, produce, deli, meat department, and full service conventional supermarket services out of a small building.”
Charlie mentioned how the I.G.A. grocery store is unique compared to other stores, “We really hang on our produce department…always offer fresh produce and offer different, unique items that some of the big guys don’t necessarily carry. I’ve seen things down there that I haven’t seen in a long time…Combination of different packaging of grapes all in one package, I saw blueberry grapes down there I didn’t know such a thing existed. White asparagus; quite a selection of mushrooms…things that if you look at the size of the market you wouldn’t expect to find.”
When asked what items he recommends for purchase in the store, Charlie replied, “I can tell you because our local food service is gonna be a big part of the business. We’ve got pre-made sandwiches to order, already established a lunch crowd from the two days that we’ve been open, extensive deli, fresh baked goods in the morning, we have espresso you can get your latte or mocha on your way to work. We also have a pretty good selection of wines.”
When asked who he recommended visit the grocery store, Charlie responded, “Well, everybody of course. This is the first time there’s a supermarket in downtown Tacoma in 40 years (that is what I’ve been told). I think our primary customers are apartment and condo dwellers on waterfront and up the hill above us. I definitely think we have an opportunity to sell the students from UW Tacoma and the University of Phoenix is nearby. We have parking above us; there is an opportunity for people getting off work to park in garage above us and direct elevator to the store and then head home. It’s validated parking and if they spend $10 or more we will validate their [customers’] parking for an hour.”
Charlie even recommends his family and friends to visit the store, “Well, of course I do…yeah my mom even volunteered to help with our open house. We had a packed store and in fact had people that wanted to go shopping when we weren’t prepared with registers or tills yet…Had to turn them down…Had some people take it and come back in the next day.
Tuesday evening we had the ribbon cutting with the mayor, a cooperative effort, city officials, property owner, and store owner to make this happen.”
Colin Black, point of sale manager, who has worked for the company for approximately six years, explained his position, “I make sure our pricing integrity is at its best. I make sure that everything is priced, tagged in file, and ready for people to buy.” When asked what he thought of the I.G.A. stores, Colin replied, “It’s awesome…I really like it. There’s just a variety of everything; I’m personally gluten free. There are a lot of gluten free items in the store, I like its location, and all the employees are pretty cool. It’s pretty awesome, I dig it. Plus, I can see Mount Rainier out the window.”
Colin discussed the best thing about I.G.A. stores, “Really good company to work for I’ve always been really taken care of without question…definitely good company to work for. My salary’s nice, benefits are nice, all people work here, and Ocean Shores is nice. Good people to work with and hang out with. Tyler’s a very personable owner and can sit down and talk to any employee and say “How you doing?” I don’t know…I really appreciate that.” Colin mentioned how I.G.A. stores are different compared to other stores, “Hometown proud…very town city oriented. We wanna make them happy (ones that shop) don’t know if big stores cater to their clientele we try to do that.”
When asked who he recommended visit the store, Colin replied, “Everybody. It’s a really good location right downtown I’ve been to a few of our stores everyone’s really nice same goal as a company which is pleasing the customer making sure they’re happy and having repeat business making sure people want to come back. It’s more than just money, it’s people.” He also recommends his family and friends to the store, “Oh yeah because I feel IGA employees are like my family anyhow. I feel comfortable sending people here just to come hang out with my friends and shop.”
Visit the Tacoma City I.G.A. grocery store 7 am to 10 pm daily, located at 1250 Pacific Avenue Tacoma, Washington. Their phone number is: 253 830-5755. “I just really appreciate working for this company for one I live in Ocean Shores so the company sent me up here to help run it and open it. That experience to me, is valuable I’m learning a lot up here,” Colin commented. “I just like to reach out to people who live and work in downtown Tacoma to stop by and see us. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised at what we have to offer,” Charlie concluded.
By: Carly Calabrese, Staff for Tacoma.com