LOPEZ ISLAND, WA. When Blossom Grocery relocates to a newly renovated space in Lopez Village in February 2016, it will mark the single largest expansion in the natural foods retailer's 38-year history.
Blossom's new space at 295 Village Road will occupy 3,300 square feet on the ground-floor of a newly redeveloped building originally built in 1975 as a warehouse for the Fisherman Bay Lumber Company. The new store will be 130% larger than the old store and will feature natural daylighting, energy-efficient heating and refrigeration, wider aisles, more office and workspace, and improved accessibility. "This space has been designed and built with real people in mind," said co-owner Brian Kvistad. "Our hope is that everyone--customers, employees, even delivery drivers--will enjoy being in it."
Historically, Blossom has occupied many commercial spaces in Lopez Village, but this move will be the first time that the retailer will operate in a building that was designed for the purpose of housing a grocery store. "Blossom has always had to make do with commercial spaces that were designed as offices, or as light retail," said Kvistad. "Grocery stores are particularly hard on buildings, so this is a huge step up for us."
Founded in 1977, the store now offers a full line of food and household products, the vast majority of which are certified organic, locally produced, fairly traded, or otherwise representative of ecological or social responsibility. The new building will allow the retailer to provide a wider selection of products in every category.
While visitors to Lopez Village have been able to watch the very visible progress of the new building's construction since May, less visible are the programmatic changes underway behind the scenes. "We're not just moving stuff," says Kvistad. "We're taking this opportunity to secure better pricing, better signage, better professional development, better information systems AND improved ordering systems." Many of these improvements will be implemented during, or soon after, the move.
Visitors to the new site will find Blossom's basic business model largely unchanged: "We do a good job at natural foods grocery, and we enjoy it," said Kvistad. "We have no real reason to expand beyond that model right now." The retailer has no plans to add specialized service counters such as a deli, bakery, or meat department, but the store will nevertheless feature many new offerings in the new footprint.
While the new location's larger size, greater visibility, and improved accessibility will be a draw to vacationers to the Island who want local, certified organic, and fairly traded products, the store's primary emphasis is on serving the local year-round community. "We are blessed with many visitors every year, and we welcome them with open arms" said Kvistad, "but we would be nothing without our stalwart local supporters." The store is open year-round.
Owned by Kvistad and his wife, Jennell, since 2004, Blossom now employs a team of seven professional staff year round who bring a diversity of talents, backgrounds, and personalities to the store's operation. "The new building is exciting," said Jennell Kvistad, Mr. Kvistad's wife and co-owner of Blossom, "but to me it is really only a reflection of the incredible talents and dedication of our team of employees. They're the ones who have kept the current store thriving. I'm so happy to be able to provide our staff with space where their professional skills can shine all the more, and I can't wait to see what we can do together in the new space."
Blossom will open its new doors in January 2016 and spend the winter months settling in to new processes and systems. In April 2016, the store will celebrate the start of its 40th year in business with a Grand Opening event in conjunction with Earth Day and Lopez Island's annual Tour de Lopez bicycle event.
Founded in 1977, Blossom Grocery is San Juan County's oldest natural foods retailer. The redevelopment project, designed by Greene Partners Architecture and Design and owned and funded by Ledger Investments, both of Lopez Island, will also include state-of-the-art professional office spaces for lease, solar-panels, low-VOC paints, and bio-swales for absorbing storm water.