Ballard New Seasons celebrates grand opening

Ballard’s newest grocery store, New Seasons Market opened its doors today on Ballard Way with speeches, protests and plenty of eager shoppers.

We arrived at lunchtime, and the store was packed with neighbors navigating the aisles and admiring the amenities.

Among all the staples, New Seasons features an expansive meat and seafood counter, wok and ramen bar, burrito bar, in-house made sushi, grab-and-go meal kits and an indoor and outdoor seating area, to name a few. Some local vendors handed out free samples.

“We are excited to open our doors to the Ballard community,” said Kerri Hunsley, Ballard store manager. “We are honored to have partnered with local nonprofits and hired amazing staff from local neighborhoods. We have sourced a variety of products from more than 175 vendors across all departments, and many of them are hyperlocal vendors from the Ballard area. We look forward to being your neighbor and serving the Ballard community for many years to come.”

One of those vendors is extremely local: Fremont Brewing’s production facility is right across the street from New Seasons. Named after a shingle mill constructed in Ballard in 1888, Fremont created “Shingle Town Hazy India Pale Ale” exclusively for New Seasons.

“From the windows of our Ballard production facility, we watched the demolition of the old building and the construction of New Season’s first Seattle store on that site with great anticipation,” said Matt Lincecum, Fremont Brewing Founder and CEO. “We’re excited to welcome New Seasons to the neighborhood with Shingle Town Hazy IPA.”

As shoppers drove into the parking lot, they were greeted by protesters demanding better worker conditions at New Seasons, which is not a union workplace. We talked with Chris Heim, a longtime employee from the Hawthorne store in Portland who drove up to take part in the protest.

“I’ve seen a lot of things deteriorate and degrade, as far the quality of the job,” he said. “I’m trying to get as many people together to show solidarity with Seattle. There’s a worker network that’s coming together to fight back against corporate greed for better wages, better benefits, better staffing. Under-staffing is one of our biggest issues.”

Some protesters also claim that the store has “retaliated against Portland workers who spoke up about working conditions,” a claim that New Seasons refutes. “The National Labor Relations Board investigated two claims of retaliation and dismissed both claims as having no merit,” New Seasons spokesperson Nicole Brooks told Seattle Weekly. In February, New Seasons announced CEO Wendy Collie is stepping down in a “strategic shift” in the organization.

New Seasons opponents, who are supported by UFCW 21, are also protesting against the company’s planned expansion into the Central District.

New Seasons is entering an increasingly competitive grocery store market in Ballard. Ballard Market, Safeway, Fred Meyer, Trader Joe’s and Amazon Fresh are just a few blocks away, and a new PCC will open early next year in the Ballard Blocks II development.

In the days to come, New Seasons has several events planned, including wine and chocolate tastings and store tours with nutritionists.

(Both New Seasons Market and its opponents, New Seasons Stories, are advertisers of My Ballard.)

28 comments on “Ballard New Seasons celebrates grand opening”

  1. > See upcoming events in our Ballard calendar <

  2. Prices on various items seem to be on par with QFC/Freddy’s, that deli seemed pretty damn nice, as well. God help you if you try to take the left to go east on 46th as you leave the parking lot. Tight!

  3. I was also there a little after noon. I know some folks think the location is odd because of the other nearby grocers, but New Seasons blows its neighbor Fred Meyer out of the water when it comes to a *real* meat department with an actual butcher (rather than some random kid summoned over from another department and who’d try not to laugh in your face when you ask for anything beyond ground beef and chicken breasts). It’s like a slightly less expensive Whole Foods, which for my purposes is ideal. In fairness, FM is a very convenient Wal-Mart type store (I get a lot of household items there, and there’s a good pharmacy and a Chase branch, etc), but I foresee that most of my meat and produce needs will come from NS, supplemented by Trader Joe’s.

  4. I’m not crossing picket lines. I support Fred Meyer, and their meat section is well staffed, not as described above.

  5. Welcome to the neighborhood new seasons. UFCW what a joke. New Seasons is a B-Corp and beloved in Portland. Don’t let them scare you NS, they are just afraid of a great new product competing.

  6. I drove past Leary/46th around 4pm yesterday on my way to the gym, and the line of cars to get into the parking lot stretched out to Leary, so good for them. I’ll check it out eventually…Ballard’s gotta eat!

  7. So, the union bullies were at it again eh? Their reps were at the Greenwood FM months ago stirring up the kettle when the word got out a few were leaving to go to NS. What are they afraid of here, a little competition? The new hires at FM will be unionized, sending in their precious dues, and that IS the bottom line here, and throwing a fit like when you take away a Binky away from a baby is getting old and tiresome. Protests are like car alarms. The sky is not falling. Lack of competition though does breed complacency, as we witness with government here locally.

  8. “the line of cars to get into the parking lot stretched out to Leary” was caused by paving work on NW 46th. They had flaggers and were allowing just one lane of traffic almost directly in front of New Seasons. Great timing/coordination, City of Seattle! Hmm, wonder if this was Kshama’s idea?

  9. Ballard Needs Eats: Wait….cars? What cars? All these new people in Ballard don’t drive.

  10. @Dino: I did not know that. It does sound fairly idiotic, in regards to the timing.
    @Skip: plenty of old folks still left. Say, do you think the war on cars is because we’re trying hard to not have the ‘old’ Ballard of ‘old’ people from the 80’s/90’s? The blue hair brigade with their seatbelts hanging out the side of their car doors?

  11. @Goballard:

    New Seasons is a B-Corp and beloved in Portland.

    Was beloved you mean. They are owned by a private equity firm, so don’t let all their faux feel good advertising fool you. They are just as beloved in Portland as Stumptown, who sold out to an international holding conglomerate and went downhill quickly after.

    But it’s a free country, so no ones stopping you from shopping here, except Dino’s wacky conspiracy theory about SDOT. I think people will realize quickly that it’s just Whole Food prices with much less quality and take their business back elsewhere. Most people will continue to shop at grocers that don’t have a history of treating their workers poorly while hiding behind their B-corp designation.

    @Scott:

    Lack of competition though does breed complacency

    Did you forget to take your meds again? There’s at least a half dozen competing grocers nearby.

  12. Sounds about right for Seattle. The company was cleared of the employee allegations by the NLB, but there is still some protest nonsense going on, and surely there will be bums and panhandlers who can’t be bothered to work hanging around hassling people and stealing from the store.

    Seattle is a giant parody of itself. Jobs are here. Get one and stop trying to gouge everyone else to pay for your awful, low IQ life choices. Would these protesters prefer to have more unemployed people? I’m as pro union as the next guy but I don’t see anyone protesting Starbucks, Amazon, or any other huge non union operation.

  13. @Sockpuppet:

    Oh you mean the same NLRB that is run by recent nominees, the noted anti-union Marvin Kaplan and John Ring? The same case that involved just two of the many cases alleged against New Seasons, which was almost immediately appealed?

    Oh good, that little bit of information should put all of our concerns to rest. Huzzah for New Seasons!

    I’m as pro union as the next guy…

    Thanks, I needed a good laugh! Unless you mean our buddy Scott as “the next guy”, that I can believe.

  14. If they’re operating in Seattle and they violate any regulations, then I’m sure we will hear about it.
    You many have noticed, that is if you’ve ever darkened the doors of a job site or pulled a shift anywhere that involved standing or moving instead of staring at screens, that today’s pool of workers is filled with lazy types who can’t punch a clock and check their phones all day – then get outraged when they get passed over for promotion or a raise.

    New Seasons COULD be a terrible unethical/ illegal operation for all I know, but it is true that many people would rather protest or you know, LIVE IN TENTS and slam drugs than actually work for a living. We all know you reflexively side with the slackers, thieves, and incompetents. no need to remind us.

    Hey, how about that Korean Peace deal?

  15. Weird. After that town hall, it sounded like the angry old men had discovered a new love of protest and direct action. I thought they said it’s OK to be disruptive if you feel strongly enough about something. Like you’re mad at the city because of… things? Home prices being too high/low, too much gentrification/homeless encampments, property tax too high/don’t tax Amazon. Righteous anger. Justification, right?

    Buuuuuuuuut…. no. We’re back to “get off my lawn”. I knew it wouldn’t last.

  16. @Elenchos

    No, actually we’re pro jobs, which is why we’re against the head tax.

    Here, Elenchos, I’ll walk you through the difficult logic here: when someone TAKES your money without your approval and wastes it, that is not the same as a boycott or protest of a private entity. We can’t opt out of taxes, and more than we can vote on whether to let nepotistic perverts hire their “special friends” as overpaid consultants.

    I have no idea if the allegations against New Seasons are true, but at the very least they didn’t waste BILLIONS of taxpayers dollars on junkies and then have the gall the demand MORE. Yes, get your junkie tent and angry pit bulls off my lawn, out of our parks and green spaces and get off the sidewalk.

  17. @Sockpuppet:

    If they’re operating in Seattle and they violate any regulations, then I’m sure we will hear about it.

    Just because a corporation is not violating the law doesn’t mean what they are doing is ethical. If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a decay of worker’s rights over the past 50 years. What they are doing now, wouldn’t have been legal 30 years ago. Doesn’t make it right, my tiny handed friend.

    You many have noticed, that is if you’ve ever darkened the doors of a job site or pulled a shift anywhere that involved standing or moving instead of staring at screens, that today’s pool of workers is filled with lazy types who can’t punch a clock and check their phones all day – then get outraged when they get passed over for promotion or a raise.

    Well, at least you admit it. You have a mentally delusional view of a typical worker and based on this nutjob view, you believe they should have no workers rights. How American of you?

    We all know you reflexively side with the slackers, thieves, and incompetents. no need to remind us.

    Drat! Bested by our mentally ill Sockpuppet and his intelligently thought out comments yet again!

    Hey, how about that Korean Peace deal?

    Glad to see two enemies put aside their differences for the betterment of both of their nations. …crap, the irrelevant elephant strikes again!

  18. Great store! Loved it, I’ll be a regular. I still will go to Ballard Market, Trader Joe’s and PCC too but it’s nice to have options!

  19. The store was lovely and was logically laid out, although a little small. And to someone who mentioned “crossing a picket line”, they’re not on strike. It was a protest line, which is different. And that meat section was indeed gorgeous. Good to know that they have a real butcher, because the other stores’ meat departments are not that great. Especially our local Fred Meyers. Sometimes they can be helpful, but more often than not they get defensive when you ask for help, or argue with you when you ask a specific beef or pork question. Cranky, even. I buy meat at different stores, but if I’ve got the money to spend more on a really nice cut at a store with a good selection, New Seasons it is.

  20. I’m totally not a paid shill and I love New Seasons, just like the other comments above me. Unions are communism and workers rights are un-American, so shopping here makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! May New Seasons reign for 1000 years!

  21. I live in Fremont but would definitely take the bus up to get a crack at that meat selection.

  22. I lived in Portland for 17 years and LOVED New Seasons, like really loved New Seasons- loved their quality, selection, and mostly how they treated their employees, so I was totally stoked to hear they were opening in Ballard. I was shocked (not using that hyperbolically) to learn how much they’ve changed as they’ve grown and expanded, not just moving away from their roots, but going over to the dark side (again, not hyperbolic) in a way that is almost incomprehensible; it breaks my heart, really. Under the newer management, they cut staffing, benefits, harassing employees started actively Union-busting, and hiring big time union-busting lawyers, funded by Endeavor Capital and Murdoch. I will not set foot in this store, nor any New Seasons unless they return to their core values and I recommend you don’t either. Do your research…know what the *true* cost of that rutabaga is!

  23. We’ve just returned from our second visit to New Seasons in two days. I rolled my eyes heavily at the “Friendliest store in town” sign on the building, but went in open-minded. To be honest, not only was everyoine nice, they were overly nice LOL (I suppose this only happens to Scandinavians like me, who prefer a nice smile and off we go). It reached a point after I went through half the store that I had a sign that said, “DO NOT GREET!” :D

    Bottom line, though, is the people in the store are very nice, answered several questions and took care of special requests with a smile (for example, I bought two fresh Norwegian mackerels and the woman behind the counter cleaned them for me). GREAT selection of very interesting things – check out the mustards from Ballard Mustard Co., the caraway aquavit from Old Ballard Liquor Co., the variety of mixers for cocktails are awesome. Love the black sesame rice crackers. Odd to see Mike O’Brien’s wifes products in the kimchi cooler, given his seeming political purity and some of the issues labor activists have with the store. Aisles are just wide enough for two carts to pass, but not boulevards like some QFCs. It’s a lot like a bijou Whole Foods.

    I’ll definitely shop here before driving over to Whole Foods Interbay. I never get food at Freddy or TJ’s cuz we live so close to QFC on 24th. I doubt I’ll shop much at PCC because I have had issues with them not carrying things I need at two of their stores. Hate to go to three grocery stores to fulfill a recipe. :) I wish New Seasons good luck. It was a very good first impression for me.

    OH…one more thing…you might think about biking or Ubering there…the parking is fairly ample for now but once the retail opposite the store opens, that shared lot will likely be packed.

  24. I know a couple of young people who’ve been training and working there for a couple of weeks. Both tell me that they never been treated better by an employer – good pay (starting at $15.50 an hour, more that Fred’s, QFC or Safeway pay), big discount on food, good sick leave, vacation and health benefits, 401K with 50% match by NSM, they even pay employees for 8 hours of community service each year. But most importantly, at least to the two young guys I know, is that they feel respected, valued, listened to, and both are genuinely jacked about working there.

    I’ve always been a supporter of workers rights and, for the most part, unions. I’ve also been in private business for decades (non-union professional services), and have come to find and believe that if you treat employees with respect and pay them well it’s good for business, and makes running a business a lot more enjoyable, for everyone. My impression is that NSM understands all this as well and for companies them anyway, and there are many, unions are an anachronism that serve neither company interests, nor the interests of their employees. So welcome to the neighborhood NSM, I wish you well.

  25. Saying that “unions are an anachronism” for companies that treat employees well, is like saying “laws are anachronism” for law-abiding people.

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