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Local man buys Sandys Grocery Outlet

Tim Thompson moves into the ownership role
by: Jim Hart Sandy Grocery Outlet Owner and Operator Tim Thompson is pictured amid the many staples available at significant price reductions.

Tim Thompson has worked in retail grocery stores for more than 35 years, at least half of that time in huge one-stop stores with several departments.

Thompson knows the grocery business inside-out, but now the Boring-Damascus resident has come to Sandy in a different role.

He is the independent owner-operator of Sandy's Grocery Outlet Bargain Market.

He has one goal for this business, just one: change the atmosphere in the store.

He wants his employees to increase the proficiency of their work, and he wants them to see the respect he has for them. Then, he wants to see that respect passed onto customers.

'Good customer service is making customers feel appreciated for patronizing the business,' Thompson said. 'It's a mindset. It's a smile. It's helping them find something. It's making them feel good. And it's making them feel like they are regular customers.'

Even though some of the products are the same, the difference is in the pricing.

Prices are much lower for the same items found at the national or regional chain grocery stores, Thompson said. The difference is in one word of the business' name: Outlet.

Grocery Outlet brings together a variety of products that have been taken off the usual pipeline to the higher-priced retail stores - just like any outlet store. The products are identical, but the prices are lower.

The products on Grocery Outlet shelves are overstock items, test-market items, container size changes, excess inventory and stock from businesses closing their doors.

It's called opportunity buying. Grocery Outlet buyers travel the world and locate anything available at a significant discount, but nothing is outdated.

That discount is passed onto customers.

Each week, Thompson said, he receives a list of available items. If he places his order for any item before it is gone, he'll have it to place on his shelves for Sandy bargain hunters.

'This type of market is in demand with customers,' he said. 'It's a way for the public to save money on some of the things they need.'

Thompson recommends visiting his store first rather than finding out too late that he has some of the same items as other local stores, but at significantly lower prices.

'Shop us first,' he said. 'We have a lot of the basic things people need, but we don't stock every brand.'

Instead of a selection of every brand, Grocery Outlet carries - as long as it lasts - whichever brand was able to offer a big price drop on items other nondiscount stores were unable to take.

'Most of the time it's a one-shot buy,' he said. 'A supplier had (for example) 5,000 cases of overstock. Grocery Outlet picked it up and gave it to us for cost. And when that case lot is gone, that product is gone.

'We might get more (of the same product), or we might never get any more.'

A different shopping approach is needed at outlet stores: If you see something you need, immediately buy as much of it as you can use in a reasonable time period.

Thompson says you might never see that price again.

But he does try to stock some brands of the basic food groups.

'I try to have the basic commodities all represented with at least one brand,' he said. 'The brand may change week to week, but we try to always have at least one brand of items such as sugar, flour and milk.'

The store also has a wine shop, where they display close-out deals for very few dollars on wine from places such as Argentina, Peru, New Zealand and Australia.

Even though Thompson has been in the business for 35 years, it doesn't appear he's going to burn out and leave.

'I get personal satisfaction out of seeing somebody smile,' he said, 'and watching people come back.'

Grocery Outlet is in the Sandy Marketplace, 36701 Highway 26, across from Suburban Chevrolet and Ford.

The store is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information, call 503-668-6950 or visit groceryoutlet.com.