Son of Grocery Outlet Independent Operators Enjoys His Very Own Bargain Market
Brock McDowell, 25, is now an independent operator after Willits, California, grand opening in September 2014
Brock McDowell is only 25 years old, but he already has plenty of experience in the grocery industry. His parents are independent operators of a Grocery Outlet store in Ukiah, California, and his father, Monty, has been a grocer for years. Brock was bagging groceries with Grocery Outlet at the age of 16. Nine years later, Brock opened a Grocery Outlet store in Willits, California.
Brock opened his store in September 2014. One of Grocery Outlet’s youngest independent operators, Brock was a store manager within a small chain of grocers in Washington State called The Markets LLC. He rejoined his family in Ukiah and worked at his parents’ store and entered the Grocery Outlet’s Aspiring Operator in Training program. He worked at the Lakeport store for four months as part of the program while awaiting a new location near Ukiah. The Willits market, a 20-minute drive from Ukiah, became an option 18 months after Brock entered the AOT program.
“It’s always been our plan as a family to get our stores together,” Brock says. “This is perfect for my family. My sister, Lacey, runs the office for me. Grocery Outlet does an amazing job finding the right stores for people so they can succeed. When the store became available I submitted my business plan, did a couple interviews and got my store.”
Grocery Outlet is the largest extreme-value grocery retailer in the nation, carrying conventional, name-brand retail products at up to 60 percent off conventional grocery store retail prices. Our buyers travel thousands of miles to find the best bargains from manufacturers and producers. Our independent operators then focus on selling the products, which include some that are outside the retail channel — packaging changes, product overruns and surplus inventories.
“We’re on a fourth generation of operators,” says Co-CEO MacGregor Read. “The viability of the organization is very strong.”
Grocery Outlet finds the products, our independent operators influence how much they make by growing sales, managing margin and controlling their variable expenses such as labor, utilities and supplies. As a result, independent operators have the ability to control their own earning destiny by growing their stores and controlling costs.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Brock says. “I never worked for a company like Grocery Outlet. It’s very family-oriented. Your performance is all on you. What’s exciting is being in charge of your own business. I never thought I would have an opportunity like this.”
Brock’s competition in Willits is the conventional chain store on the other side of town. Serving his side of Willits has garnered a huge, positive response from the locals and is becoming a winner for Grocery Outlet and Brock.
“There’s been an amazing customer response,” says Brock. “We have an amazing building. It’s a beautiful store.”