What’s So Fascinating About Our Inventory?
Where and how we purchase our unique bargain items, and how they get delivered to our stores
Companies call Grocery Outlet when they have excess inventory, cancelled orders from other retailers or packaging changes. Sometimes, a company will even test a new product in our stores.
“By helping our suppliers, we also help our community by providing top-quality brands at incredibly low prices,” Co-CEO Eric Lindberg says.
We’ve been buying from thousands of manufacturers — ranging from small boutique operations to major corporations. Our reconditioning center can label, re-label ingredients and nutritional stickers, remove labels, repackage and change packaging from kilograms and grams to pounds and ounces. We can even translate product information into English.
Our suppliers count on us to professionally and discreetly move product through our network of more than 290 stores in five western states (CA, OR, WA, ID, NV) and Pennsylvania – without disrupting conventional channels or disrupting valuable name brands.
Grocery Outlet’s success is due in large part to the speed with which our uniquely empowered buyers can respond.
“The biggest things that sets Grocery Outlet apart from our competitors are our flexibility, our speed and our responsiveness,” says Steve Wilson, Vice President of Purchasing.
Grocery Outlet is the only extreme-value grocery business that confronts head-on the diffusion line and close-dated product issues that both manufacturers and consumers struggle with.
“We capture the code dates at the time of purchase, and we track them throughout the supply chain,” says Paul Miller, Vice President of Dry Grocery.
From start to finish within every process, our systems ensure that we sell quality products both within manufacturers’ and federal guidelines.
Some of our more interesting buys
In recent years, our opportunistic buyers made some purchases that drew quite an interest from bargain hunters. We bought $1 million worth of military-grade boots and sold $700,000 of them within 10 days of putting them on the shelves.
In 2011, Grocery Outlet drew media attention with a “Dash to Your Dress” bridal sale in Oakland. Our buyers acquired 1,000 wedding dresses from Alfred Angelo with original prices ranging from $200 to $700. The Oakland store sold them for $99 each in a blockbuster seven-hour sale, where we blocked off nearly a third of the store for dressing rooms and a red carpet.
Hostess, the maker of Twinkies, filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and discontinued production of one of America’s favorite snacks. The company was bought by an equity firm and returned to the shelves seven months later. But while it looked like Twinkies were going to be gone for good, Grocery Outlet had truckloads of them for the snack’s biggest fans — and we had bought them for a significantly discounted rate.
Grocery Outlet is also a popular place to buy our very inexpensive, fine wines. Our core wines run from $3 to $6 a bottle, and our premium wines run from $7 to $20 a bottle. Premium wines typically sell for $20 to $50 a bottle at other retailers.
One of our strategic growth initiatives at Grocery Outlet is in the area of our natural, organic, specialty and healthy (NOSH) category. It’s a category that Grocery Outlet Bargain Market customers continually demand. NOSH is growing rapidly, attracting customers who compare our prices to those of conventional grocery stores. It’s pumping up the treasure hunt at Grocery Outlet.
“In order to help our natural and organic food category grow, we developed a great sign package to feature the brands that we carry,” says Kai Mitchell, a buyer at the Grocery Outlet home office. “We also merchandise the NOSH category separately to make it more visible to the customers.”