Homecoming for new Grocery Outlet owners

Larry and Elizabeth Brown have roots in Ferndale and both worked at the Bellingham Grocery Outlet before going their own in 2002. (Mark Reimers/Ferndale Record)

Larry and Elizabeth Brown have roots in Ferndale and both worked at the Bellingham Grocery Outlet before going their own in 2002. (Mark Reimers/Ferndale Record)

Couple plans July 25 Grocery Outlet grand opening

FERNDALE — Grocery Outlet is right on schedule.

According to owner Larry Brown, the new store, located in spot formerly occupied by Cost Cutter, will have a soft opening on July 23 and a Grand Opening event on Saturday, July 25.

Remodeling work on the store has progressed at a good pace, Brown said, enough to plan the opening festivities with some kind of certainty.

Larry Brown, and his wife Elizabeth, will manage the new Ferndale location, a role they relish, given their past in Whatcom County and Elizabeth’s family in the Ferndale area.

Brown and his wife also have an extensive history with the Grocery Outlet chain. For Larry, it began when he was 16 years old as a bagger in the Tacoma store.

“My baseball coach had told me about (the job) and I applied,” Brown said. “The day before Thanksgiving in 1988, they called me. My head was buried in a brown bag all day long.”

Elizabeth is a graduate of Ferndale High School. With Larry, she worked at the Bellingham store. Larry graduated from Western Washington University and the couple first got their own store in 2002, eventually landing at their current Lynnwood site.

They will officially hand over ownership on June 15.

The couple had been aware that the company was interested in starting a Ferndale store. They assumed, however, that Ferndale residents and Bellingham store owners Troy and Tina Clark would be interested. As it turned out, the Clarks were unable to take on the Ferndale location, and the Browns jumped at the chance to return to Whatcom County.

“We lived in Ferndale for a couple of years,” Larry said. “(Elizabeth’s) family history does go back.”

Brown said that when they left in 2002, it was in his mind that they would someday be back.

Not too long after that, Elizabeth’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, which made them want to be back even more. That even prompted them to move from Kent to Lynnwood, just to ease the drive time to visit.

“Six years ago, we lost her,” Brown said. “But we always felt that Ferndale and Whatcom County was where we wanted to be.”

Brown said the Clarks are great friends and even though Troy and Tina had to make the tough decision to pass on the Ferndale store, he expects to work closely with them to help build a good local brand.

The Browns have set up a Ferndale Grocery Outlet Facebook page to keep locals up to date in the run-up to opening. Some of the important announcements will be a date and time for a hiring fair, which will happen some time in June.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/FerndaleGroceryOutlet. Resumes can already be submitted to [email protected]