Word on the Street: Grocery Outlet fills downtown void

The Fresno BeeMay 18, 2014 

Downtown residents and office workers who lamented the loss of the Fresh & Easy store at R and Tulare streets can stop mourning. Grocery Outlet, the nation's largest extreme-value grocery retailer, has moved into the space and will open Thursday.

The store's grand opening celebration will be Saturday with festivities beginning at 7 a.m. Free coffee will be available and the first 500 customers will get eco-friendly reusable bags. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. customers can try to win prizes on the Wheel of Bargains. And from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., $1 hot dogs and drinks will be sold, with proceeds benefiting Edison High School athletics.

Chris Caillier, owner and operator of the store, said he is excited about coming to Fresno. Caillier, a former Seattle resident, worked his way up from a Grocery Outlet produce clerk to an owner/operator.

"This is a great community," Caillier said. "And I am very happy to be here."

The new store will employ 42 people and will be smaller than the average Grocery Outlet. But Caillier said there will be no shortage of discounts and features for his downtown customers.

"We plan to offer a variety of items, like single-serving salads, so customers can just grab it and go," Caillier said. "We will also have five full-service checkout stands so that people won't have to wait in line."

Grocery Outlet boasts that it can save customers 40% to 70% on everyday grocery items and dry goods. For example, Caillier said, the store has wine from Napa Valley that retails elsewhere for $15 to $20, but sells for $6.99 at the Grocery Outlet. Along with groceries, the store sells apparel, housewares and personal-care products. It also has a special section called NOSH, or Natural, Organic, Specialty and Healthy. Caillier said it is one of the fastest-growing sections in the Berkeley-based chain.

The expansion into downtown Fresno is one of 18 new Grocery Outlet stores scheduled to open this year. The downtown store is at 2820 Tulare St. and will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

New solar showroom

SunPower by Quality Home Services has opened a "solar design center" where would-be customers can get a hands-on experience with the company's solar panels and learn more about the technology they are considering.

The opening of the showroom coincides with Quality Home Services' selection as one of three SunPower "Master Dealers" in the U.S. and the local dealer's rebranding as SunPower by Quality Home Services.

The Master Dealer designation is the highest of four tiers for the solar-panel manufacturer, said Ron Ballecer, a spokesman for the Fresno dealership. The designation recognizes expertise in training, installation and customer service, as well as financial stability of the dealer-partner.

The solar center includes ground-mounted solar panels and monitors showing the real-time energy output of the panels.

The center at 4936 E. Ashlan Ave. formally opened Thursday with a ceremony that included a tour by Fresno City College students who are studying renewable energy technology.

Quality Home Services, founded in 1985, has been a SunPower dealer for about 41/2 years. The company, headed by CEO Joe Holstein, began as a dealer of water filter products and expanded its offerings over the years to home energy products including generators, insulation, water heaters and solar panels.

Details: www.qualityhomeservices.com

Creating a neighborhood

The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens has completed the construction of 54 skilled nursing suites called The Village.

The private and semiprivate rooms surround a common space that includes a kitchen, a living room and dining room. Residents can receive short-term and long-term nursing care in the suites, but will also benefit from "neighborhood-style" living, community officials said.

"This new way of living will increase social interaction and enrich the lives of our residents," said Ed Johnson, Village administrator.

The Village, at 5555 N. Fresno St., is phase three of a $120 million transformation at the northeast Fresno retirement community.

The first two phases included the construction of apartments, memory support suites, parking, dining venues and a pool. The final phase, expected to be completed this summer, will add 12 assisted living suites to the development.

Details: (800) 895-8019.

 

Robert Rodriguez, Tim Sheehan and BoNhia Lee contributed to Word on the Street. It was compiled by Bethany Clough. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6431, bclough@fresnobee.com or @BethanyClough on Twitter.

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