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Retailer of the Year West

New Seasons Market Plans New Stores, Freshens Others

New Seasons Market

New Seasons Market, The Shelby Report of the West’s Retailer of the Year, has been updating its stores across its soon to be 20 locations, while four more are slated to open in the next three years. 

For the company’s recognition, EVP Bob Reeves visited multiple stores to get a glimpse of what the future of the grocer looks like. He was led on the tours by several executives including CEO Nancy Lebold, VP of Store Development Ross Vontver and store managers Nicole Heiden and Scott Weseman. 

Many of the company’s stores are in line to get a facelift such as fresh paint or new shelving. Similarly, stores are receiving updates to their HVAC systems to be more energy efficient, according to Athena Petty, senior manager of sustainability.

Andrea Sierralupe, floral manager

On Reeves’ tour, he visited what Lebold described as the “quintessential New Seasons” at Fisher’s Landing in Vancouver, Washington. The store is slightly larger in square footage than other stores, but it is slated for a remodel next year. 

“As you walk into a New Seasons, you’ll be greeted at the front door by our beautiful local floral arrangements, and also our potted plants that we offer from local growers here,” Petty said. 

Local and organic are two common labels you’ll find throughout any New Seasons Market. 

Alongside fresh floral arrangements, customers will see art on the walls by artists local to each location, Vontver said during Reeves’ visit to another store slated to open this fall in downtown Vancouver. 

Palisades Store Manager Talya Pite explained these are the type of “little things” that set every store apart. 

“The artist that is represented here is not going to be represented at the Vancouver location. They’ll choose another artist. The basic concept will be the same, but there will be some little nuances, those little things, that will be different based on the location,” she explained.

Customers will also find the New Seasons Solutions Counter. 

Talya Pite

“When you walk in the front door, we have an area where we have folks that can answer all your questions and find solutions for anything that you might have for your day when you’re coming in,” Lebold said. 

Moving further into the store, customers will again be greeted with a splash of seasonal color in the produce department. Signage can be seen around the department showcasing local growers whose products are on store shelves. 

“We are so proud to partner with many of these growers. We’ve been working with some since the first day we opened our doors,” Lebold said. 

Brandon Nadler, assistant produce manager at Williams, said the company works closely with growers to provide as much organic produce as possible. 

“We bring in as much as possible. A lot of the non-organic products that we have, we’re working with farms that are working towards their organic certification, but they haven’t fully achieved that yet … Ultimately, the customer is still taking home a product that they want, one that they’re comfortable with, one they can touch and see is fresh,” he said. 

Customers will find varieties of produce they won’t find anywhere else. That is due to New Season Market’s organic partnerships. A full-time buyer is employed by the grocer to create partnerships with local organically grown producers.  

Customers will then find themselves in the perishable aisles. Like many other items in New Seasons, customers will find items from vendors within 500 miles of the store. At least 80 percent of the products in the store are within this range, according to Lebold. 

Brandon Nadler

One of the grocer’s newest additions to its private label, sustainably packaged pasta dishes, will be found in perishables. These pasta dishes are packaged with 91 percent less plastic than before. 

The layout will vary slightly in the company’s upcoming store. According to Vontver, there will be a split between perishable and non-perishables. The departments will be split with a set of aisles, with one being a wellness aisle. 

Next is bulk foods. Customers will find a mix of traditional grocery and local products. Lebold made a point to showcase the company’s founding principal with box of Cheerios. 

“One of our founders said we are going to lean into local, and we’re going to lean into sustainable and healthy and natural and organic. But we are not the food police. We are going to have something for everyone. And that includes conventional items like a box Cheerios,” she said. 

As customers move past bulk foods, they will find the frozen products. 

“You can see our incredible selection of frozen treats. This is another area where we have a lot of local products that everyone would like to eat … we have a large frozen foods department. Our customers know that’s another great way to get healthy, nutritious food,” Lebold said. 

Customers will still find a unique selection in this section. Aside from not seeing large national frozen brands, customers will find frozen products from local restaurants. This program grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Katie Schoen, director of communications.

“We realized that our local restaurants were going through a lot,” she said. “And we partnered with them, and a number of the restaurants started producing products so we could sell them in our stores.”

New Seasons helps bring these products to market. Alongside frozen foods, restaurant products can be found in prepared foods. 

After frozen, the tour led to the bakery. All stores have bakeries featuring organic bread. 

Greg Gancer, bakery manager

Greg Gancer, bakery manager at Williams, said the baking process begins at 4 a.m. each day and doesn’t stop. The bakery also features staples such as cakes and cookies. “We’re baking pretty much all day, seven days a week. The guests always smell freshly baked bread,” he said. 

Lebold said the meat department was similar to the produce department.

“We take a lot of pride in all of our departments, but our meat department stands out from any other department. Simply because we have the most beautiful presentation and the highest quality meat,” she said. 

This sentiment was echoed by Pite. 

“We’re known for produce, and we’re known for our meat. These are the two departments where people won’t compromise on quality, and the quality is definable and noticeable.”

New Seasons continues to rely on locally and sustainably sourced products for its meat and seafood. The associates behind the meat counter are responsible for grinding the hamburger and making sausage, at the same time they create recipes in-house. At the time of the tour, the grocer had just completed a summer promotion featuring a new flavor of sausage every week. 

The department also features various whole fish throughout the year. All the fish available are sustainably sourced, according to Lebold. 

Rounding out the tour was the grocer’s wine department. New Seasons Market has a two-person team that curates a large selection. Both are extremely experienced in wine procurement. 

“One gentleman is fourth generation in the alcohol industries…and the other gentleman also has been with New Seasons for a very long time. They know everything there is to know about wine. So, we have an incredible assortment of wine. Anything that you could possibly look for, we have available here,” Lebold said. 

Each store employs a full-time wine steward and numerous experienced staff who can answer customer questions or make recommendations. Some locations offer weekly beer and wine tastings. If customers are interested in stocking their cellar, New Seasons offers six and 12 bottle mix and match deals. 

Customers will also find pairings in the adjacent cheese and olive bar. Likewise, beer is available in a variety of local labels. The grocer makes it easy for new brands to enter the market, according to Lebold.

“As you can imagine, in the Pacific Northwest, we’re all about the microbrews. And we’re all about beer…Just standing in this section and getting to look at the labels, it’s just awesome,” Lebold said. “There are so many brewers represented here. It is not difficult for someone to get into New Seasons. If they have a beer they’re brewing, they can come and bring their products to market through New Seasons.”

Katie Schoen, Ross Vontver, Dave Kauder and Bob Reeves.

Even the checkout experience is unique. Typically, grocers place impulse purchases like magazines, chips or candy at the checkout lanes. You won’t find those items at New Seasons Market’s checkout counters. Instead, there are items such as flowers, a home remedy for colds, electrolyte tablets and other “nontraditional” last-minute pickups. 

“Not your general large racks full of candy bars. You’ll get to see all of our beautiful plants and floral and wine and just everything you might need on your way out,” Lebold explained. 

Self-checkout is the most recent addition to the checkout lanes. All stores now feature it, and it has been received warmly, according to Lebold. 

“We were pleasantly surprised at our customers’ desire to use self-checkout. It was greater than we thought. We definitely noticed during the pandemic, that people’s feelings about personal space had changed…You can go through our checkout and spend time chit-chatting with our friendly cashiers, or you can take yourself through self-checkout, whichever you prefer.” 

During his tour with Pite, Reeves heard about the newest features coming to New Seasons. The new store will feature a “restaurant within a grocery store concept.” The seating area will be named “The Eatery” and will feature a fire-burning pizza oven, soft-serve ice cream and fresh cookies. It will also feature ice cream sandwiches made with those fresh cookies, Pite said.

Read more from The Shelby Report’s Retailer of the Year sections.

About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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