Stockbox Grocers to debut first mini-mini-market tomorrow

Inside that portable structure – more commonly used as a temporary office – is what you might call a mini-mini-market. Maybe a micro-market. It’s in a parking lot at Westhaven Apartments 24th/Holden). Tomorrow afternoon, it’s expected to open as the first of what the startup Stockbox Grocers hopes will be many such small stores (as they explained at last month’s North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting). Inside, the Stockbox team is busy getting it stocked – we dropped in late yesterday:

Yes, that’s packaged food behind Stockbox co-founder Jacqueline Gjurgevich, but they plan to carry produce too. They’re targeting so-called “food deserts” – places where groceries (beyond convenience-store fare) are hard to come by – and the Delridge area was a natural for their first test. Future stores, they say, are more likely to be in slightly larger quarters – recycled cargo-shipping containers.

Jacqueline tells WSB that for the Westhaven pilot project, they’re still planning on the hours they mentioned to NDNC – 3-8 pm weekdays, 8 am-8 pm weekends. (They’re chronicling their launch on Facebook, by the way, and they’re continuing to raise money via Kickstarter – you can watch an explanatory video on the Stockbox page there.)

28 Replies to "Stockbox Grocers to debut first mini-mini-market tomorrow"

  • brittany September 8, 2011 (12:08 pm)

    that’s cute. but can we get a real grocery store please?

  • donna September 8, 2011 (12:49 pm)

    Mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s good to provide more (preferably healthy) food outlets in the areas abandoned or intentionally ignored by grocery stores. On the other, it looks like the kind of business I support through micro-loans in developing countries. Hmmm…

  • LA September 8, 2011 (1:07 pm)

    Love the realization that food is needed in these areas, and applaud the effort to do something about it, however-it does seem a little third world. WHY can’t we get a grocery store on Delridge with so many ready and willing to shop? Frustrating. Maybe we should petition some stores.

  • Jim P September 8, 2011 (1:08 pm)

    I think it’s an interesting idea but I misdoubt the long-term financial possibilities. That place looks too small to support itself other than as a demo for the concept maybe.

    I have to admit, much of West Seattle is surprisingly bare of food outlets. We ended up close to Westwood Village simply because so few places were anywhere near anytthing but a grubby “kwik-e-mart” sort of place if even that much.

    There’s a huge area north of here and east of the Junction that screams for a supermarket or two.

    I’ll be intersted to see how well this concept works.

  • halyn September 8, 2011 (1:19 pm)

    Well, where would you put one? I don’t see a lot of vacant space on Delridge. Also, what defines a food desert? There is a QFC .9 miles from the Westhaven apartments, a Safeway 1.1 miles, a Thriftway 1.3 miles, and a produce stand 1.0 miles away. That’s not counting small deli type grocery stores or 7-11s. How close does a grocery store need to be before a neighborhood considers itself well-served? I’ve lived in plenty of places where the grocery store was two or three miles away, and I don’t recall having any great difficulty shopping.
    And before anyone asks, no, I didn’t have a car at the time, and I lived in a city with crappy public transit. In Seattle, given how extensive the bus system is, given how many people have cars, I have a hard time getting worked up over people having to travel one whole mile to get groceries.

  • MargL September 8, 2011 (1:25 pm)

    Gotta wonder if enough folks will know that it’s there, or shop there for Bisquick, baking powder and panko bread crumbs that those items won’t expire before they’re purchased…

  • joseph September 8, 2011 (1:40 pm)

    I can see a small store down near the community center on Delridge, but not this close to the Safeway and QFC.

  • metrognome September 8, 2011 (1:44 pm)

    wow, given all the snarking in the previous comments, I almost hate to leave a nice one, but I will anyway. Great to see the well-designed ramp; this is the kind of project where that feature is often overlooked. While it may be primarily intended/required for wheelchair users, it will be useful for anyone with wheels, incl. parents with strollers and seniors with grocery carts … and for the folks bringing in the boxes on a handtruck.
    And Halyn, be glad you can easily travel a mile and return with a bag of food; there may come a time when that will be beyond your capabilities.

    • WSB September 8, 2011 (1:52 pm)

      Re: the bigger issue of eastern West Seattle grocery storelessness (north of Westwood QFC) – we’ll say what we usually say: Please join forces with your local community organizations, to give them a louder voice when proposals come up, as they sometimes do. The North Delridge Neighborhood Council meets at 6:30 pm next Monday, outdoors again, at Dragonfly Pavilion, and works on all sorts of community issues. They also have a delegate at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, which will meet at Youngstown, 7 pm September 21st. If you are in High Point, there’s the Neighborhood Association – I don’t have any news of their next meeting, but keep an eye on In Pigeon Point, the PP Neighborhood Council – – and so on. – TR

  • LA September 8, 2011 (1:51 pm)

    I believe there is a well documented history of complaints regarding how many grocery stores are up the hill in more well-to-do areas. One of the main concerns was the elderly and disabled, and also how people would be able to get to a grocery store in extreme weather. We are down a large incline from where most stores are.

  • Larry September 8, 2011 (2:01 pm)

    I miss the little residential neighborhood grocery stores once scattered around South and West Seattle…there was Sigs at 100th and California, Fauntleroy market (now Endoline Joes), a little store at 35th and Ocean View Dr (now Sound Crest Apartments), Nicols at 100th and 36th SW and Askies near 48th and Edmunds…just to name a few.

  • halyn September 8, 2011 (2:21 pm)

    Just because some people can’t make it a mile to the grocery store doesn’t make the area underserved. I’m glad to see these micro-marts, I think they’ll be very helpful to those with transport issues. It would be nice if they were using less of their limited shelf space for processed crap, but we can’t have it all.

    What I am saying is that I don’t think there is a deliberate effort to cut Delridge off from groceries. I think the people who make these decisions are looking at a map and seeing 3 major grocery stores, A very large almost year round produce stand, and a scattering of deli style neighborhood stores within a 1.5 mile radius, and making the decision that the area won’t support another store. If you build two stores too close to one another, you end up with twice the operating costs, and no increase in sales/profit. I really doubt that there’s some vast retailer conspiracy to redline the Delridge area.
    I really hate comments like “well, be grateful you can whatever.” That’s a losing game to play, because I could just respond “Be grateful you’re not in the Sudan, walking thirty miles one way to get to clean water, and forty miles one way to get a bag of rice.” (eyeroll.)

  • mcbride September 8, 2011 (2:33 pm)

    Thanks Tracy.
    Halyn, this link offers a good description of the food desert concept: It absolutely applies to the Delridge district, and it sounds like it may have for yourself at one time as well. Metrognome raised some good points, another that leaps to mind is lower income population working families, particularly single parent scenarios.
    The single largest space in the Delridge corridor is the Louisa Boren school. One angle of approach we have investigated is establishing a relationship similar to Jefferson Plaza (Safeway), site of the former Jefferson school, a Seattle Public Schools property.
    One element missing from the conversation is that the Stockbox model is not to place a single location, but 5-7 within a geographic area. They’re a startup, so this may take some time. I won’t say it’s a perfect scenario, but I for one appreciate anyone who is willing to come into this district and establish that real food is a viable economic proof of concept.

  • Weezie September 8, 2011 (2:50 pm)

    This harkens back to the corner stores many of us will remember. We’ve come full circle, in some ways. Hopefully, with time, they will evolve into something a bit more aesthetically pleasing. How can something be bad that gets people out of their cars, or helps people without ready transportation?

  • halyn September 8, 2011 (3:20 pm)

    Thanks for the link, McBride. I was actually genuinely curious what the actual concept/definition entailed.

  • Kate K September 8, 2011 (3:28 pm)

    I’m very interested to see this new version of the ‘corner store’ where you can walk to get a few items including fresh produce. I support that idea and plan to check them out.

    Here’s their website:

    • WSB September 8, 2011 (3:48 pm)

      Thanks, that is linked in the story, on the first reference. Everything “blue” in WSB story text is a link (you can mouse over to see where it would take you, if it’s not obvious). We link to many sources so that people can explore from within a story to find out much more, if they are interested, but they are contextual, inline links – always a project/organization’s own website, plus previous coverage here on WSB, elsewhere if it would enhance the story, plus we even link to the sites for people/places that are mentioned, when possible (the Westhaven Apartments link will take you to ITS site, which has nothing to do with Stockbox, but since we mentioned them, who knows, people might want to know more about THEM, etc.) … TR

  • Kjb September 8, 2011 (4:06 pm)

    I really miss Prairie Market/Food Giant! North Delridge really needs something! I am thankful for the expanding selection of fresh food items.

  • The Velvet Bulldog September 8, 2011 (5:19 pm)

    GREAT idea. I have friends who live in the Delridge neighborhood who would dearly love to have more food options than the frozen burritos at the gas station.

    I spoke to someone in the know (dang, really wish I could remember who it was) who said a big issue with getting a grocery store on Delridge is the space requirement. McBride alluded to this in the above post–other than the school site, which the district is still using (I think?) there isn’t any property large enough to hold a full-size store.

    So yes, let’s bring back the corner store, and the sense of familiarity and community that comes with them.

  • Alex September 8, 2011 (7:24 pm)

    I love it. I think we have to remember that this is their prototype, so this store is not going to be as big or pretty as the next iteration. Same with produce… They just opened up, and they are working on getting their sources nailed down. I for one am looking forward to supporting this project.

  • Cait September 8, 2011 (7:58 pm)

    Anyone from the actual complex want to weigh in here? We used to live in this complex and I have to say, there are already enough near-fist-fights about the parking spaces (or lack there of), that this seems like a strange choice for placement, at the very least. Without going into “rant” territory, this is just a completely bizarre choice for them.

  • AceMotel September 8, 2011 (8:27 pm)

    Great idea! Good luck.

  • Jim P. September 8, 2011 (8:58 pm)

    “I have a hard time getting worked up over people having to travel one whole mile to get groceries.”

    Not everyone drives, not everyone has the legs to ride a bicycle, or the eyesight for that matter. Try walking that mile with a few days worth of food carried in your arms, in the rain or in the snow. What if you just need a quart of milk and some bread? Walking to the bus, waiting for the bus, walking back to the bus after shopping, waiting for the bus after shopping, walking home from the bus after shopping can turn what ought to be a ten minute jaunt into an hour plus.

    Car owners forget what some of the rest of us have to do to get by. Grocery store a mile one way and dry cleaners a mile the other and something else a mile or so another direction?? No big deal, in a car.

  • Been There September 8, 2011 (9:40 pm)

    Level or somehow rework/remodel the mostly empty Services Group of America building at Andover and Delridge and combine its land-base with all the SGA owned parking lots and you’d have a nice large parcel to work with in terms of a grocery store with housing atop. Routes 125 and 120 would serve it regularly and it would be a perfect drop-in for those in auto or on bike coming back into Delridge from downtown or points east.

  • Rod Clark September 9, 2011 (12:10 am)

    BT, that’s not a bad idea. It’s right next door to a lot of heavy traffic. People would have to get used to the idea of zooming off the Delridge ramp to go there, but it’d be a quick in-and-out errand on the way up Avalon or Admiral.
    It would seem to make more economic sense than a mid-Delridge site around Brandon Street, too, since it’s at the nexus of more traffic going to and from a wider area. Whether it’s really an attractive enough spot for a grocery store I don’t know, but there must be more traffic past there every day than there is at the old Food Giant site (now Home Depot) at Orchard St. So who knows, maybe a Fred Meyer or something more than a grocery could even go in on the ground floor there.
    The 120 bus stops right there at Andover. The 125 stops a couple of blocks north at Chelan, as do the 21, 22, 37 express, 56 express, 57 and 85 owl.
    A big grocery store at Boren would be too economically disadvantaged down there to be competitive with existing stores for the foreseeable future, no matter how hard people want to wishfully think about it, even if a developer were to get the school district to give the whole site away for pennies on the dollar like it has done with so many other public lands (which is the real attraction of that property, no matter what grocery-loving face a developer might put on it initially).
    When that nice fellow says “establishing a relationship similar to Jefferson Plaza (Safeway), site of the former Jefferson school, a Seattle Public Schools property,” what he really means is “setting up a deal to spectacularly rip off the taxpaying public for the next hundred years or more in the same way that they did at Jefferson Square. They had their turn at the public trough and now it’s our turn.”
    Did I mention that in regard to responsible financial oversight of the public lands in the stewardship of the school district, we need to elect some more frugal, hard-headed and principled people to the School Board?
    People who are not so philosophically inclined as the present School Board to smile on plans to sell and lease parcels of good, valuable and in the future potentially substantially revenue generating public lands for mere pennies, to the everlasting impoverishment of ourselves and future generations. Tell me again exactly how many pennies we are earning from Jefferson Square’s prime real estate. Near zero, that’s how many. There’s way too much of that going on already.

  • mcbride September 9, 2011 (11:02 am)

    Curses, foiled again. My sinister plan to rob Seattle nearly worked, if it weren’t for you and your sluethin’ ways, Rod Clark. I apologize for the sarcasm, but it seems appropriate, given the outrageous levels of conjecture you seem comfortable with. You appear to be an agenda driven individual, which is great, we need that. Please use it responsibly, however.
    The FSA property Is another option, and a fine one. It also has challenges towards implementation, but if a grocery store went in there, that’d be fine too. I like the Boren location for the closer to central placement in the Delridge District, and I humbly disagree that the location is economically disadvantaged.
    My preference for Boren is to use the field only, hopefully attracting a smaller grocer, such as Red Apple. Also, SPS has made it clear they want to keep the buildings for “Emergency Use”. While I am loathe to suggest we give up any open greenspace, I think ready access to healthy foods at affordable prices is a more pressing concern for the whole of the community.
    Here’s the irony, I Absolutely agree with you regarding how SPS has cut land deals in the past. I’m more concerned with the sales than the leases though, at least we still own the land. Since I don’t cut those deals, benefit from or even influence them, I can only hope we get a good price. Even so, a lease arrangement is more revenue than the land is generating now, and the space is converted into something the community needs and desires. By the way, you suggest you have information on the lease arrangement at Jefferson. I’d really like to get that information, as specific as possible. Can you post it?
    In all seriousness, I think it’s great that you disagree. I personally believe that conversation is what refines and improves ideas, leading to better solutions. WSB provided some links in an earlier post to community groups who are doing some great things for Delridge. If you are not currently involved with one, I encourage you to do so.

  • Rod Clark September 9, 2011 (2:53 pm)

    I haven’t seen a copy of the actual Jefferson Square lease. The district’s lawyer, Ron English, would have it. But you might want to start with this. It describes the district’s sale of the residential portion of the Jefferson Square property in 2009.
    “In the year following the original lease, the developer asked for the lease to be split into two parts. One would be for the residential portion of the site and one for the commercial portion. All of the rental charges would apply to the commercial property. The District currently receives over $173,226 annually.”
    “The lease contains a provision that gives the tenant the right to purchase the residential area for $1. In 2007, the tenant sent the District a notice it was exercising the option.”
    The residential portion overlays the lower stories of the site, so it’s not the land itself that was to be sold but apparently the permanent property rights to build or have residential buildings above the land. Don’t ask me to interpret what that ownwership will mean when the lease ends, except that I believe that it will not be advantageous to the district.
    Because the district balked at earning their $1, in the end they negotiated the $1 price up to $500,000 to permanently sell those property rights.
    “This settlement provides the District with a cash payment, in lieu of receiving no money at all prior to 2083. If the litigation were lost, the District would be required to sell the property for just $1.”
    “The District also obtained an appraisal of the fair market value of the property interest. State law requires that the purchase price exceed 90% of the appraised fair market value. The price of $500,000 is in excess of 90% of the appraised value. The appraisal will be available for public review after the sale is completed.”
    Now look at the King County parcel viewer.
    The 2011 appraised value of the land, not including the buildings, is $22,435,200. The district receives $173,226 per year on a lease of land worth $22,435,200. Does that sound reasonable to you?
    In addition, note that the total assessed value including buildings is $50,288,300. Look at the column headed Taxable Land Value. You’ll see that the taxable value is $0 (it’s public land, so it’s non-taxable).
    King County, however, does get tax revenue from Jefferson Square. Click the Property Tax Bill button at the top of the page, and then on the resulting page, click on the Search button under Real Property Tax. You’ll see that King County is billing Jefferson Square $4,696.63 for the second half of 2011. That’s $9,393 per year in taxes on property assessed at $50,288,300. Does that sound reasonable to you?
    So before you jump again at the chance to directly associate your plan with the Jefferson Square deal, you might want to find out a little more. What I’ve said here isn’t “outrageous levels of conjecture,” but is based on some of the facts that I’ve been able to find in public records.
    You’re right that I do have an agenda. Let me tell you what it is. Whenever we find that we no longer have enough students in a certain neighborhood to fill a school, either use the school as a regional or all-city draw to attract some of the tens of thousands of students who have fled to private schools, or if that’s impossible then at least do something profitable with the land.
    A recent case in point is the E. C. Hughes school here in West Seattle. Local neighborhood enrollment declined. The district threw up its hands, gave up and leased the property in June, 2010 to the Westside School for $45,000 a year ($3,750 per month). That’s about twice the rental cost of an apartment in West Seattle. Does that sound fiscally responsible to you?
    If the district had whatever people and intangibles that it would take to do it (clearly it doesn’t) the district itself could operate a similar school in the same building, and attract students to an outstanding alternative or college prep curriculum. They could draw families back into the district, and start making the district into a district for all of the kids in the public again. But such a school couldn’t be just a neighborhood school serving only a small area. Like the Westside School and others such as some Montessori programs, it would have to attract families in more or all of West Seattle, or even from across the city.
    But to attract families back into the district who’ve left, much of the emphasis would have to be on offering a curilculum on par with, and at a pace and with work expectations like that of typical private schools. Such schools could and should also have room for and programs geared to help poorer families who want a better education for their kids.
    The district should have kept the University Heights site too, instead of selling it a few months ago. In that case, shortly after selling it, they realized that they would need a lot more capacity in that part of town starting this year for elementary school classrooms. Too late, they’d already sold it.
    Have you considered the possibility of putting a grocery store, maybe your Red Apple size one, at the same intersection where the Food Giant was, at Delridge and Orchard? The Public Storage site across the intersection from Home Depot, together with a couple of adjoining lots now occupied by a tavern and a parking lot, might be large enough for something viable there. Remember that Food Giant was only a small part of the Home Depot (then K-Mart) building, on the south end of it.
    It would be great to have a closer grocery store, and I’m not at all against the idea. Food Giant kept its head above water on Delridge because of the good road connections to all points west, east, north and south to a wider area of West Seattle, at that junction. The Boren site lacks the east and west connectors, so color me skeptical about it.
    I hope all of this helps explain why I had a really adverse reaction to your wanting to push through another Jefferson Square-like deal.

  • mcbride September 9, 2011 (3:57 pm)

    Thank you for the information, it’s great. “Outrageous levels of conjecture” referred to your re-interpretation of my statements, which I took umbrage to. “Similar arrangement” suggested a lease arrangement between SPS and a grocer, nothing more. I can certainly see how that would raise flags for you based on the data, and I apologize for that. Not my intention. I certainly hope that SPS would negotiate a better deal than Jefferson, as you have outlined it. I agree, that deal stinks like bad fish. And yes, we are looking at other possible grocery locations (a number are on the table right now, some are admittedly better than others, and we’re looking for more).
    The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council has eight strategic objectives. One of them is “Strengthen Our Schools”, and we need a champion for that, quite frankly. There’s a place at the table for you, if you want it.
    Apologies for going off-topic. Thank you Stockbox, and good luck to you.

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