By Tara Nelson
Local residents looking for more shopping choices can mark their calendars for Wednesday, May 13 when a new 32,000-square foot grocery store opens its doors at Birch Bay Square.
Kevin Weatherill, CEO of The Markets, LLC, formerly Brown and Cole, said the new market will feature a 50/50 mix of higher-end packaged and fresh foods and local produce.
“It’s kind of higher-than-typical for us, but it’s the way things are going,” he said.
The store will also feature a bakery, bread shop, chocolate section, gourmet cupcakes, temperature-controlled wine cellar, in-house chef demonstrations, soups, anti-pasto and olive bar, beer cave, flash-frozen bulk seafood bin, hot deli items, a made-to-order salad bar and submarine sandwiches.
“It’s going to be a cool store,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of unique stuff, but it’s a standard extensive selection of natural and specialty items that will be integrated in with our regular items.”
“If you’re a foodie, you’ll feel welcome here, but if you want oatmeal, Cheerios and Jell-O, you’ll like it here, too.”
Weatherill, a graduate of Blaine high school, said he hopes to keep prices down by eliminating some costs of expensive fixtures and giving customers the option of self-checkout lines. He said about 30 percent of customers prefer self-checkout, especially many of the male customers.
“We want to spend money to give you service in the store, not as you’re leaving,” he said.
After spending 12 years in the grocery business, Weatherill said he went back to school to get a degree in finance and marketing because he wanted to get out of the grocery business. But after graduating, his love of food brought him back. And when combined with his experience working as a wine distributor and CEO of Bornstein Seafoods, the decision made sense.
“I love the business,” he said. “It’s very dynamic in that it has all the elements of a business except you get to see the product and work with every day. And see the customers as well.”
He added that after Brown and Cole emerged from bankruptcy in 2007, it was time for a new approach. He has hired Jim Van Rijswijck as store manager. Van Rijswijck also had several years of experience working with Brown and Cole and is also a BHS grad.
When asked about plans for the Blaine Cost Cutter, Weatherill said it will likely get some renovations but will remain in Blaine as somelocal customers may not want to make the drive to Birch Bay.
The Market will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily beginning May 13. A grand opening is scheduled for May 23. They can be reached by calling 366-0330 or by visiting www.themarketsllc.com.