Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County

Grocery Outlet’s deep commitment to families and affordability

It’s February, but it will be April before you know it. We’ve already started planning for our 2020 Auction, which will once again be held at the Depot Market Square in the heart of Bellingham’s Central Business District. This year’s Annual “Raise the Roof” Auction will be on Friday, April 24th. Already many of our loyal auction sponsors and donors are lending their support once again. Save the date!

Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County funds a significant amount of our building budget from the funds that our Annual Auction generates, especially from ticket sales and the live Auction. We couldn’t do all that we do throughout our construction year without our many Auction sponsors, donors, and attendees. For several years, Bellingham’s Grocery Outlet (1600 Ellis Street) has been a loyal Auction sponsor. Once again, they’ll be supporting us.

Founded by Jim Read, Grocery Outlet opened its first store in 1946 in San Francisco as a military surplus store and warehouse. In 1973, Read launched his first independent-operator agreement for a store in Redmond, Oregon, setting in motion an expansion that has led to over 300 independently owned and operated Grocery Outlet locations today.

“Grocery Outlet is not a franchise, but it’s designed much like a franchise. Every store is individually owned and operated by local families,” said Chelsie Acton (pictured above with her husband, Bret), acting owner and operator of Bellingham’s store.

“For the most part, we get to do what we want, which is really nice. My parents still own this store,” she added. “They got involved in Grocery Outlet when my dad was 19. They trained at a couple of other stores before they came to Bellingham. They’ve owned this store since 1994, and Bellingham has been our home ever since.”

Acton and her husband will soon be taking over the business as her parents step away from running the store. They want to keep the business in the family.

Grocery Outlet Headquarters does all the outsourcing for the inventory for every store. “Grocery Outlet has partnerships all over the world,” said Acton. “Everything we receive is directly from the manufacturers. When they have something they need help selling, they contact Grocery Outlet, and vice versa, when we’re looking for something.

“Our goal is 40 – 70% savings, depending on where you’re shopping in Whatcom County,” continued Acton. “We want to create a one-stop shopping experience for our customers. That’s why we have fresh meat and produce now. Inventory won’t drop, but the variety will change. Our warehouse is always doing what they can to provide us with deals.”

Because of their location, so close to Western Washington University, they see a lot of walk-in business, especially from students. “Our average customer count, on a daily basis, is anywhere between 1,100 and 1,300 customers,” said Acton. “We have a ton of foot traffic.

Grocery Outlet market in Bellingham, Washington
Grocery Outlet in Bellingham

“Supporting the community is the best part of this job,” Acton continued. Grocery Outlet as a corporation sponsors an annual month-long program called Independence from Hunger, a food drive for food banks in the communities where they operate. Bellingham’s Grocery Outlet has long donated to local food drives. “We’ve always supported Bellingham’s Christ the King Church and given them our donation because they donate to about 30 different food banks and organizations around the county every year.”

Why is Acton and Grocery Outlet so committed to Habitat? “My dad has been really good about pretty much saying ‘yes’ to everybody,” she said. “Of course, we pick and choose the bigger donations. I know that Habitat does a huge amount of good things in our community. We think Habitat is wonderful! The Annual Auction has been our family’s way of supporting the Habitat cause.

“I follow the things Habitat does, the houses you’re building in our community,” added Acton. “Our community needs all the housing help it can get. Serving this community any way I can is the best part of my job.”

The Habitat 2020 Auction Date and Time

When: Friday, 24 April 2020
Where: Depot Market Square (1100 Railroad Avenue), Bellingham
Event hours: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Become a Raise the Roof Auction Sponsor

For questions about “Raise the Roof” Auction sponsorship opportunities, please contact Fred Sheppard at 360.715.9170, Ext 1018, or by email at fred.sheppard@hfhwhatcom.org.

[Every cash gift we receive at Habitat, no matter how small, returns when each Habitat home buyer makes their monthly mortgage payments. This enables us to purchase more supplies for another home. Habitat’s core value, “a hand-up, not a hand-out,” means that every penny is repaid. Please consider pledging $5 per month.]

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