SNEAK PEEK: See inside PCC’s new West Seattle store before Wednesday opening

Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

PCC Community Markets (WSB sponsor) will celebrate both a grand opening and an anniversary at its new West Seattle store on Wednesday.

We got a sneak peek inside the store this morning with Cate Hardy, the West Seattleite who has led PCC as its CEO since 2015.

It was a bookend of sorts – we last interviewed Hardy in May 2017 on the final day of the old store, on the same site (2749 California SW) but half the size of the 24,000-square-foot new one.

Today, Hardy told us, “It feels incredible; it’s so fantastic to be re-entering the West Seattle market.” Not that PCC really left during the closure – it’s continued offering delivery service, via Instacart, in the interim, and has maintained other community involvement. The “anniversary” aspect of Wednesday’s opening celebration is PCC marking 30 years in West Seattle, so instead of cutting a ribbon for the store, they’ll be cutting an anniversary cake.)

One thing she’s particularly excited about is that the new store is a prototype of sorts – the PCC “store of the future,” achieving Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification. This involved choosing “petals” to achieve the status – especially materials. That was a challenge because many things they needed weren’t easy to find made from qualifying materials, so they had to custom-order or make their own, all the way down to fire-extinguisher holders.

Checkstand components posed a challenge too.

There are eight checkstands – four regular, four express – on the south side of the store. No self-serve; PCC is no longer offering those at any of its stores. Over them is another component of their qualification for the green-building certification – an art installation:

“Cloud Wave” by Celeste Cooning is made from reclaimed sail cloth and rope created for, but never used in, World War II. Yet another qualification for the green status is “place” – the store (and apartments above it) is fully on its previous site, no previously undeveloped land involved.

Back to the tour. We start in the produce (“98% organic,” notes Hardy) section, where another sustainability facet is on display – literally: The tables holding produce displays are made from cedar reclaimed from the old West Seattle store.

Heading north inside the store, we arrive at the huge deli area, where you’ll find hot food (including 8 varieties of homemade soup), cold food (from salads to yogurt), a pizzeria, taqueria, and a bar to make your own grain/greens bowl.

PCC is moving away from plastics, so you’ll find many compostable containers.

Continuing northbound on the west side of the store, there’s the beer/wine/liquor section, with an emphasis on local/regional.

And then the section that is a favorite for many – bulk:

This will be the biggest bulk section of any PCC market, Hardy told us. In addition to edible items, it also includes a section with bulk products such as soap.

Turning toward the California side of the store from there, a big open-air cheese department – “you can talk to the cheesemakers” – and the meat/fish displays, plus a full-service butcher case/station, something the old store didn’t have.

By this point in the store, you’re facing the huge windows that look out onto California SW (and the historic Hiawatha Community Center park across the street), with lots of light on this sunny morning even though they’re still papered over. The abundant natural lighting allowed a more sustainable plan for the artificial lighting, too.

Turning southward across the front of the store, we pass the health/body-care section, and then the grocery shelves, and back to the checkout area (bring your own bag and they’ll donate 5 cents to nonprofits). Other things you might want to know about:

SEATING: There’s a mezzanine area, accessible by stairs or elevator, with tables and benches, seating about 50, plus tables and chairs for ~12 outside the south side of the store, facing SW Stevens.

There’s a possibility of more in the future, Hardy notes, because of the sizable plaza-type area outside the southeast corner.

ALSO OUTSIDE: There’s a Little Free Library for cookbooks. And across the California SW side, yes, the bus stop will be returning. The sidewalk in front of the store is very wide – lots of separation from the busy street.

PARKING: The first garage level is all for the store, more than 50 spaces, plus ~30 moe in the outside lot west of the alley.

RESTROOMS: Four all-gender individual restrooms, plus a changing table, with the entrance toward the northwest corner of the store, by the bulk area.

Regular hours will be (corrected) 6 am-11 pm daily. But Wednesday (October 2nd) will of course be a special day because of the opening/anniversary celebration at 9 am. PCC will have 12 stores (and more on the way – Ballard, downtown Seattle in the new Rainier Square Tower, Bellevue) so the first 112 people in line will get a gift – a free bag of PCC’s special coffee (roasted by Tony’s Coffees and Teas). Music is planned too – including, in the afternoon, the band from West Seattle High School across the street.

While, like any executive, Hardy is excited to get the store open for business, she is especially enthusiastic about setting an example with the LBC certification (interpretive placards will point out the features inside the store when you visit) – it added to the construction cost, but was wholeheartedly backed by the board, and they hope to set an example for others: “If you’re going to build a new building, why not?”

47 Replies to "SNEAK PEEK: See inside PCC's new West Seattle store before Wednesday opening"

  • Airwolf September 30, 2019 (2:17 pm)

    Great report and so complete, thanks WSB. this will save some time when one first visits and knowing what to expect . any word on their stir-fry bar? did  not see it mentioned

  • Luke September 30, 2019 (2:31 pm)

    Shout out to PCC for not having any self checkout lines!

    • Mike October 1, 2019 (5:42 pm)

      Why not any self checkout lines?

  • Chris K September 30, 2019 (3:01 pm)

    Beautiful store!  I can’t wait to check it out.  Welcome back, PCC.

    • momosmom October 1, 2019 (7:28 pm)

      No, the checkers will have to check it out! LOL!!!

  • anonyme September 30, 2019 (3:19 pm)

    This is so exciting.  Can’t wait to see all our old friends (Hi, Dennis!) and it will be great to not have to leave the peninsula anymore.  The store looks fab.

  • Simon September 30, 2019 (3:52 pm)

    It would have been nice to see the architect/designer get a credit, rather than everything quoted from CEO, these things don’t get achieved by one person in a vacuum, particularly such a challenging certification 

    • WSB September 30, 2019 (4:06 pm)

      Lots of other details in the original announcement.

      “The West Seattle location features a new design from local architect Graham Baba in collaboration with architect of record, Seattle-based MG2.”

      Also in that announcement, the contractor, the store manager, and more. The CEO is who guided our tour today, so that’s who I quoted. – TR

  • Scott September 30, 2019 (3:54 pm)

    Can’t wait to shop here again. 

  • four wheeler September 30, 2019 (3:57 pm)

    Neither of the two restroom doors shown with the HC sign appear to be wheelchair accessible (openable).

    • T September 30, 2019 (8:02 pm)

      Would you please explain to me and maybe others that do not know what is needed to make a door openable.  Is there a way to have a blue push button like we are familiar with that doesn’t open when occupied?  I thought the style of handle they have was all that was needed.  I tried to look up this information but could not find the answer.  Thank you in advance for helping to educate me. 

      • four wheeler September 30, 2019 (9:04 pm)

        I wanted to see a button too.  But if the closer has less than a 5 lb pull and stays open long enough to wheel through I suppose they are fine.  We will see.

        • JBG October 2, 2019 (7:28 pm)

          From what can be observed from the photo the doors comply with the building code accessibility requirements. 

  • JayDee September 30, 2019 (4:29 pm)

    I can’t wait. Going to Burien PCC was great, but a sign of what I missed. PCC somehow managed to keep their Avos fresh without the 1/2 dead ones others sell nearby. (You know who you are). I loved the old parking lot but know these times are gone.

  • Tina B September 30, 2019 (6:19 pm)

    I’m so happy to get our WS PCC back, and better than before!

  • David September 30, 2019 (6:41 pm)

    Never been to a PCC before. How does it compare to a Whole Foods? 

    • JWinWS September 30, 2019 (9:24 pm)

      Hi David,  PCC is a Seattle only business and has been around long before Whole Foods It’s a co-op, focus on local, sustainable whenever possible. Here’s a link to the standards they keep.  I like them because they do the homework for me.

    • Suzanne Krom October 1, 2019 (5:59 am)

      PCC’s commitment to sustainable practices and our local community sets it completely apart from Whole Foods — “People before profit, farms before factories. Our commitment lies with our community.”  And in more ways, including fair labor throughout their supply chain so that people get paid a livable wage and children aren’t trapped in slave labor — . Whole Foods is corporate and bottom line focused. PCC is sustainability and community focused. It’s no wonder that PCC has such strong support throughout our region. I choose to shop here over all the other stores because of their values. The quality of their foods is exceptional too. Oh — and their cooking classes are phenomenal too! 

    • KM October 1, 2019 (11:45 am)

      PCC workers are also unionized, where Amazon/Whole Foods is not.

    • AMD October 1, 2019 (7:19 pm)

      From a shopping standpoint, PCC is nearly always cheaper and I like their hot foods way better.  The people that work there have always been more knowledgeable, friendly, and generally not stressed by you asking them questions (compared to their counterparts at Whole Foods).  Whole Foods seems to have more stuff in total, but PCC has more stuff I want to buy, if that makes sense (kind of like Home Depot versus McLendon’s).  It’s just a way better shopping experience and you get a lot more for your money, imo. (Stores I’ve shopped at for comparison are WS and Burien PCC and SLU Whole Foods, for what that’s worth)

  • SBP September 30, 2019 (7:35 pm)

    Can’t wait to check it out! Will miss Columbia City, but so glad to have our WS PCC back! See you on Saturday Dennis!

  • Guy Olson September 30, 2019 (8:10 pm)

    I sure hope they have bike racks. For such eco-minded store there sure is a big parking lot.

    • WSB September 30, 2019 (8:52 pm)

      Yes, they do – we saw the one out front. Sorry, very car-centric of me not to include that!

  • jissy September 30, 2019 (8:22 pm)

    Please PLEASE don’t let it be anything like the Burien Store!!!

  • JustJedSaid October 1, 2019 (12:13 am)

    I can’t wait to check it out. Have never been to a PCC.  So many quality WS grocery options…so few meals in the day.

  • anonyme October 1, 2019 (7:44 am)

    I’ve heard from employees that PCC is moving toward a more corporate approach.  I hope not, as the community-based model is exactly what makes PCC our best regional grocery.  Whole Foods has just gone down the toilet since Amazon took over.

  • Greg October 1, 2019 (10:22 am)

    As an Admiral District neighbor, we are very fortunate to have a great selection of grocery stores. I was not a customer of the old PCC store but in light of their significant investment in our neighborhood, I am a brand new Member and looking forward to exploring its offerings! Welcome back to the neighborhood.

  • Scubafrog October 1, 2019 (10:47 am)

    I’m super excited, I miss the PCC!

  • twicksea October 1, 2019 (11:17 am)

    I am ridiculously excited for a grocery store opening.  I’ve missed you, PCC!  Welcome back!  Will be happy to stop driving to Burien and Columbia City.  And thanks WSB for the great pre-opening peek.

  • 666Tips October 1, 2019 (11:51 am)

    Any electric car charging in the lot? Would love that since we don’t have a ton in WS!

    • WSB October 1, 2019 (11:52 am)

      It was in the plan but the website suggests it’s “coming soon” and we didn’t see it – but I’ll check.

  • Melinda J-S October 1, 2019 (12:34 pm)

    I’d like to echo the comment about great cooking classes, such variety, many are hands on experiences and a terrific gift idea.

  • DH October 1, 2019 (1:45 pm)

    So looking forward to their return. IMO it’s a much better model than Whole Foods now (always was but more so). Also thanks for the tip about the new downtown location. As a downtown worker that will be great to have PCC in that area too. 

  • Amie October 1, 2019 (3:02 pm)

    No self-checkout? Big thumbs down. I really hope the express lanes will take bigger orders when it’s crazy busy. This seems like a miss. 

  • Chris October 1, 2019 (3:48 pm)

    Love it. PCC is the best grocery store in the country. Thank you Suzanne for all that you and your team does! 

  • Deb October 1, 2019 (3:59 pm)

    Welcome Home PCC!!! I’m so excited to have you back in West Seattle. And I’m really proud of the WSB readers speaking to the many differences between PCC and faux corporate versions. 

  • JayDee October 1, 2019 (4:24 pm)

    @ DavidI think the difference is that PCC gives a damn. They went to BPA-free receipts not because it was cheap, the owners/customers said that is what they wanted. Yes, they are in it to make money but also to do it correctly by stocking speciality things, and having great bulk items. Maybe Whole Paycheck does give a damn, but I prefer PCC. I love their prepared foods like Perfect Protein Salad which I could make but would need to buy a shopping cart to do so. If Burien is any indication, it could only have gotten better.I will hopefully get to greet all the heritage cashiers and staff again. 

  • Concerned October 1, 2019 (8:24 pm)

    Not to be a Debby Downer, as I’m also very excited about PCC coming back and I’ve shopped there for years, but I just walked up the alley behind the new PCC  and saw several large rodent bait boxes along the back of the store, in the alley.  My understanding of these bait boxes is that rodents may consume poison in them, but then leave and die elsewhere.  I just mentioned then to my husband and he said they’ve been out there for ages, and he’s seen them on both sides of the alley.  I absolutely realize the problems rats can cause, but can’t these bait boxes – if placed in the open as opposed to being placed in a confined area – lead to secondary, and often deadly, poisoning to pets and wildlife who may eat the poisoned rodents that die elsewhere? 

  • Lacey October 1, 2019 (8:25 pm)

    I may have missed this, but when does it open tomorrow? I thought I had previously read at 7am, but looks like t may be 9am? Can u clarify? I’d love to stop by on my bike commute to downtown in the morning if it’s 7 (I always used to do this and have missed it!)

    • WSB October 1, 2019 (9:22 pm)

      Though the store’s regular hours are 6 am-11 pm, the opening tomorrow is 9 am. If you want to get the giveaway, you probably need to get there earlier.

  • Susan October 1, 2019 (10:39 pm)

    Concerned, do you live in the city??  Those rodent boxes are literally EVERYWHERE!!  Seattle is 2nd only to NYC in terms of rodent population, because of our relatively mild weather and temps.  

    • Concerned October 2, 2019 (2:41 pm)

      Actually, they’re not “everywhere”.  Even if they were, that wouldn’t make it right, plus the issue I raised did not relate to rodent population, but rather to subsequent, secondary poisoning of other kinds of wildlife and pets from the use bait boxes in open areas, which is a very real danger.  Even if something is everywhere, or frequent (e.g., the use of sarcasm and rudeness by some), that doesn’t make it right, advisable, or the only option.

  • Golden girl October 1, 2019 (11:54 pm)

    Maybe I’m missing something it’s a grocery store, one more store in an area of lots of stores,  let’s over consume,  keep increase density and areas that need grocery stores go without,  silly all this fuss,  imagine the traffic with the high school and all will be miserabl. If they were truly as community based why didn’t they put the store in delridge that needs a store versus the high income, racial homogenous admiral area that hardly needs another grocery store,  don’t kid yourself it’s still a business with bottom line being the most important factor 

    • WSB October 2, 2019 (12:31 am)

      Traffic: Same flow as previously, enter from Stevens, just this time you’re choosing between the surface lot and the garage. Was the traffic “miserable” previously? We shopped at PCC (as well as other local stores) and never noticed a problem. Re: siting the store elsewhere – They don’t own the land and, as with the previous store, they don’t own the building either. When their landlord sold the site and the new owner started working on a redevelopment plan, it wasn’t even certain for starters that they would go back into the same site. However, in West Seattle, it’s not like there was a choice. No other development in ANY part of WS in recent years with a grocery-store-sized space – except of course The Whittaker, where Whole Foods opens next week. There was talk once upon a time about a grocery store in what became Upton Flats, but SHA owns that land and took most of the space in the building.

    • wshappy October 2, 2019 (12:56 pm)

      Actually @Golden Girl – PCC operates on a triple bottom line, environmental, social and financial. donated over 433,000 meals to the local foodbanks and grocery rescue program – they also have tons of partnerships with local vendors and a community grant program and scrip program to support schools among other things!

  • Cassidy October 2, 2019 (8:55 am)

    As a former PCC employee I can confirm that PCC has become increasingly corporate through the years. A lot of long term employees left in disgust at the penny-pinching, wage-crushing tactics of the new CEO. For instance. A $1 raise spread out over 3 years that the union had to break their backs to get approved. She wanted to cap new employee salaries at $16 an hour, but luckily, the unionized workers vetoed her proposition. So, a journey level employee is making $20.70 and an entry-level employee is making $16 an hour because of Seattle’s minimum wage. Word on the street is she will veto raises for the next round of wage negotiations, because PCC “can’t afford it.” #themoreyouknow

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