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.)