Chris and Aubree Cherry felt like they were making a good decision last year when they moved to Selah to open a new Grocery Outlet.

As the store prepares to celebrate its one-year anniversary next month, the young owner-operators say moving to Selah has proven to be not only the right decision, but also the best decision they could have made in their careers.

“The community has been great,” said Chris Cherry, 31, a former Dollar Tree store manager who moved here from Lynnwood. “We were looking for something that was a little more slow-paced; something a little less crowded. It’s just a nice, quiet town, and we have really enjoyed it here.”

Aubree Cherry, 27, said the slower pace and strong sense of community have been exactly what the couple was missing while living on the west side of the state.

“I’m just thankful that we’ve been so well-received,” she said. “Living in a small town is definitely different than what we’re used to. We were going, going all the time, but now we have the time to focus on our business and our people. We really want to make sure they are taken care of.”

Grocery Outlet opened Sept. 12, 2019, in the former Sav-On Foods space at 800 N. Park Center. The building was remodeled and divided into two, with the other half being occupied by a Tractor Supply Store. The grocery store portion, owned by Grocery Outlet Holding Corp., measures about 15,000 square feet, with room to grow. 

“The size of the store has worked well for our current volume, and it will for higher volume, too,” Chris said. “We have a nice stock room, excellent parking and no dock restrictions. There’s not much to complain about.”

The Cherrys also have had good luck with their 25 employees (20 full time), saying their entire staff has been friendly, dedicated and reliable since day one. 

“We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on Facebook, and people are always saying how helpful and cheerful our employees are,” Aubree said.

The couple has been equally enthusiastic about the customer support they have received over the past year. They quickly discovered how much Selah residents enjoy supporting local businesses. Store traffic was solid for the first six months, but once the COVID-19 shutdown started in March, the store jumped “two years ahead of projections.”

“It’s definitely gone better than we expected,” Chris said. “We had no idea what was going to happen, so we tried to be conservative in our estimates. But we completely blew our initial projections out of the water.”

Now that Grocery Outlet has become firmly established in the community, the Cherrys look forward to meeting more local residents and growing the business. As an “opportunistic retailer” — compared to a traditional grocery chain like Wray’s or Safeway — the store doesn’t always carry every product their competitors have. But their prices are always competitive, and they offer a wide variety of brand-name products.

“We’re not a conventional grocery store, so we have a lot more freedom to do things the way we want,” Chris said. “But we also have more earning potential because we can capitalize on really good deals and then pass on those savings to our customers. That’s something we can really drive home with people.”

One year into their journey as grocery store owners, the Cherrys couldn’t be happier. The pace of their lives has slowed down, they’ve met a lot of great people, and they are able to make business decisions that work best for them.

“Coming from the corporate world, it’s been great having the flexibility to run the business how we want to,” Aubree said. “We’re so excited to have this opportunity in a great community like Selah.”

“We’re right where we want to be,” Chris added.