It was a big deal to people who live in downtown San Diego condos when a Ralphs supermarket was built in the late 1990s. A supermarket in the Marina District helped solidify that the 92101 ZIP Code was a real neighborhood.
Five years ago, an Albertsons arrived in East Village. And the turf war for grocery shopping was on.
Just this year, though, another major chain supermarket came to the urban core. But the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market (just about five blocks from the East Village Albertsons) is very different from the other chains.
You can walk the aisles at Ralphs and Albertsons and pretty much find your food staples every day of the week. At Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, to take Forrest Gump slightly out of context: “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Similar to the purchase/stocking techniques of Costco, Grocery Outlet “opportunistically” shops for excess merchandise to put on its shelves. You might not always find the same items on each visit, but shoppers can always expect drastic bargains.
Example: Quarts of Mango Naked Juice were recently in large supply at one-third the regular retail price. A week later, the overstock shipment was completely sold out.
There are more than 160 Grocery Outlets nationwide; the downtown location is just the third in San Diego (the other two are in National City and Oceanside).
The downtown San Diego location is 17,600 square feet, and carries meat, fresh produce, beer and wine (no spirits), personal-care items and lots of frozen food.
And, you never know what else you might find on the shelves: underwear, doggie beds or a Twilight hair dryer with Robert Pattinson on the box.