By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

La Pine becomes home Thursday to the 43rd and newest Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Oregon, a project that began almost a year ago.

At the helm is a couple recently relocated to southern Deschutes County from California’s Bay Area. Brett and Gina Turner met while working together; Brett Turner was a store manager for five years with 14 years total in the grocery business, he said.

“My wife and I were working for Safeway when this came along,” Brett Turner said Tuesday. “I think the reason we like it, it’s our own business, and that’s the American way, right?”

The La Pine Grocery Outlet, at 51420 U.S. Highway 97, opens with a ceremony at 10 a.m. The Turners also plan a grand opening all day Saturday, starting at 8 a.m. The new Grocery Outlet will employ about 25 people, said Alicia Garcia, a public relations representative in Los Angeles.

The Turners made one trip to La Pine before bidding on the opportunity to manage the store. Grocery Outlet managers are independent owner-operators. The company leases the 18,000-square-foot property from Pinehoof LLC, a division of Dickerhoof Properties, based in Corvallis, and the same developer behind the Market of Choice in Bend and a Grocery Outlet in Madras.

Dickerhoof Properties unveiled plans for a 27,000-square-foot retail building in La Pine in March. A Dollar Tree occupies the remaining 9,000 square feet.

The Turners own the cash registers and other hardware inside and Grocery Outlet provides the merchandise, Brett Turner said.

“It’s definitely unique,” he said. “They like married couples (as owner-operators) so you have someone to depend on when you’re building the business.”

Garcia said Grocery Outlet has some individual owner-operators but employs married couples because the company considers itself family focused.

Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, an Emeryville, California, company with 268 branches in the Northwest, West and Pennsylvania, offers deep discounts on its products. Its buyers scoop up merchandise with seasonal labels or packaging, for example, that’s sold at a wholesale discount.

“When Coke, during Christmas time, has a Santa Claus on the can? After Dec. 31, nobody wants the Santa Claus on the can,” Turner said. “Grocery Outlet is an outlet, true to form.”

La Pine City Manager Cory Misley said he expects the parking lot at Grocery Outlet will be full for days to come. La Pine is a regional hub for northern Klamath and Lake counties as well as southern Deschutes County. The Dollar Tree remains that popular since it recently opened, he said. La Pine has two other grocery stores, a Ray’s Food Place and a Shop Smart, as well as several smaller markets and convenience stores.

“I grew up in Oregon City and I’m a big fan of Grocery Outlet,” Misley said Wednesday.

The Turners, married three years, had never been to La Pine prior to their scouting trip, Brett Turner said. They moved into a rental home just 1½ months ago.

“There was only one place on Craigslist when we were looking,” he said.

Turner said an eye for detail that he developed during his eight years as a demolition expert in the U.S. Army help him today as a store manager.

“You’re constantly looking to make sure that everything is right and in its place,” he said.

“We’re very excited to be here in La Pine; we can’t wait to be part of the community,” Turner said. “I think I’m going to take fishing back up.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

16338955