By Dennis J. Freeman
INGLEWOOD — The grand opening of Grocery Outlet turned out to be a pretty big deal for local residents May 17.
Several hundred people lined up on the sidewalk at the Crenshaw Imperial Plaza as Grocery Outlet held a grand opening for its newest location.
It was the 300th time the company celebrated a grand opening of one of its stores. To get local residents acclimated to the store, local dignitaries and store officials welcomed the store chain with a VIP preview night May 16.
City Councilman Ralph Franklin said Grocery Outlet provides a great alternative to the warehouse-formatted stores in the area and will certainly give an economic boost to the Crenshaw Imperial Plaza.
“They’re celebrating their 300th store in the franchise and so we are very fortunate to have them identify the city of Inglewood is where they want to call home,” Franklin said. “What’s really exciting is we realize that we now have people of color that are the actual owners and operators and they hired locally.
“So now we’ll be able to get not just major discounts on merchandise, but you can pass on those savings to the family, but also buy a lifetime opportunity for the employees who will remain gainfully employed, which will recycle the dollar back in our community.”
Victoria Brown has been a resident of Inglewood for more than 30 years. She was among the people who decided to brave the long line to get into the store. For Brown, it was worth the wait.
She made the decision to attend the grand opening after seeing and hearing about Grocery Outlet’s landing spot at Imperial and Crenshaw.
“We have a store over there … Superior (Grocers), and we really don’t have a close one besides Superior until you go to Century and someplace like that,” Brown said. “I do think we need another store. We have a 99 Cents Only store, but it doesn’t carry everything that a real store carries. I like the improvement of Inglewood. That was greatly needed.”
Johnny Lewis is another longtime Inglewood resident who has seen stores come and go during the 25 years he has lived in the city. Grocery Outlet represents something of a stabilizer for the shopping plaza, Lewis said.
“We used to have a grocery store where dd’s Discount (store) used to be,” Lewis said. “It was a thrift mart, then it changed to a Ralphs, then it changed to a Vons, and then we had no store. Finally, Superior (Grocers) moved in to the area, so we got a store back. It’s great to have another store.”
Having a grocery store in the immediate area is a great benefit, Lewis said.
“I can walk over here and go shopping now,” he said. “Before, I had to drive somewhere. As expensive as gas is now, this is a blessing.”
This is an exciting time for Grocery Outlet’s Inglewood proprietors Patricia White and Neason Gill. The first two days of business was brisk with customers and well-wishers coming through to check out the store.
“Words cannot express how I feel,” White said. “I’m overwhelmed. I’m happy. I’m excited, everything. It’s just good to be able to serve the community that you live in, so we’ve been able to offer jobs locally. I think we’ve hired like 36 people just from within the community, and the prices we’re giving the community, the healthy choices we’re giving them. … We are promoting eating healthy for kids, so what we want to do is to show the kids how to eat healthy. That’s our biggest thing.”
Gill was giddy about the opening of the store.
“I’m very excited,” Gill said. “We’re really excited. We’re her for the community and we want the community to know that we’re here for them.”