Greg and Jessi Powell
Kent Grocery Outlet
Greg and Jessi Powell both came from the conventional ownership path. Greg worked for Albertson’s for 22 years (the last 6 years in a store management role), and Jessi worked for Albertson’s and then Trader Joe’s for 6 years. Though they were both grateful for the experience and opportunity during the Albertson’s years, the company had changed over time and they believed that it was becoming more about shareholders and less about customers.
One day, Greg got a call from an unknown number while he was at work, and randomly decided to answer it. It was a recruiter from Grocery Outlet, and the Powells decided to investigate a bit further. “We flew down there, fell in love with the model, and appreciated the transparency of the company,” Jessi says. “It happened very quick, but it just felt so right.”
The Powells have a young son and wanted to be closer to family, so they decided to move back to the western side of Washington and ended up living with Greg’s parents during the yearlong Aspiring Operator Training (AOT) program.
“The AOT process is rigorous; they are preparing you for the marathon that is your grand opening,” Jessi explains. “Our commute was an hour each way, but those two hours in the car every day became a wonderful bonding experience for us. We talked about everything and discovered our management style for what would eventually become our store. It was a long and tough, but great year.”
The Powells opened their Kent, Washington, store on July 14, 2011 and say the part they love most is the freedom and independence that comes with running their own store. “You’re not being told how to do everything. This is all pretty simple: stacking cans, selling groceries, and taking care of people – both employees and customers.”
Both Greg and Jessi say store ownership is really about recognizing an employee’s passion for something and then empowering them and giving them a chance to grow. Their current store manager is a prospective AOT, and a large reason she was hired is because she said she wanted to have her own store. The Powells want to surround themselves with people who want to learn, grow and move up and on.
Most of all they love the customers and are always on the sales floor. Jessi has had a lot of customers tell her their store is their “happy place.”
“Some people come in for the ambiance and warmth, even when they don’t need groceries,” Jessi says. “We provide the space, and God does the rest.”