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Phone survey sparks speculation about Magnolia Thriftway

June 30th, 2010 · 72 Comments

Some of you may have gotten a phone call recently asking you to take a survey about grocery stores.  A few of the questions have sparked speculation about who may be coming or going.  It’s not known who was conducting the survey, but here’s what reader Nancy tells us:

I took a survey by phone tonight about area grocery stores where I shop, what I like etc. The last quarter of the questions focused on what I might like should the Magnolia Thriftway be replaced with a different grocery. I did say that I’d shopped most recently at the Thriftway, so that may have been why the final questions focused on that grocery site. Maybe they are looking specifically at that site, or maybe finally the Albertson’s? Anyway, the range of possible new stores ran the gamut from a discount/very little service store to Safeway to Trader Joe’s to an “upscale market with fresh fish and a large Asian food section” to Met Market to PCC.

You can rest easy Thriftway fans.  We talked with Emily Penhollow, a member of the family that owns the Magnolia Thriftway.  She tells us the store is doing very well and isn’t going anywhere.  Emily is aware of the survey and says it is quite upsetting to her family.  She doesn’t know who is behind it, but says the Magnolia Thriftway is here to stay.

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  • jrod

    One of the employees estimated that their business has gone down about 20% since Whole Foods opened. And you don’t have to look too hard to notice that a few employees have gone missing. I was told that they had to cut a lot of hours, so it was the employees with seniority that got to stay.

    That said, I love Thriftway. A great local business. Please take the Albertsons, it needs to be put out of its misery.

  • tom

    Miss Emily Penhollow is trying to pull wool over people’s eyes. That Thriftway is not doing “very well”. Multiple employees within the store have discussed its downward trend in retail sales. Things have been bad at Thriftway for a while, but Whole Foods just made things a lot worse. Vendors have complained about not getting paid until months after delivery so that the store can try to make some profit inbetween payments.
    I wouldn’t be shocked if the Pennhollows are behind the survey and are trying to sell and just don’t want it known to the public.

  • Grocerystorefan

    How wonderful it would be to get a Metropolitian Market or closer PCC!

  • NewinMagnolia

    I’m curious as to why all the other Thriftways (lower QA, top of QA, Admiral) all became Metropolitan Markets, but Magnolia did not. A Met Market would be amazing…the one on lower QA is hands-down the best grocery store in town followed by the Ballard Market. I’d love to shop at Magnolia Thriftway but they carry almost nothing my family eats. :(

  • Katharine

    It would be AWFUL if the Thriftway changed into one of those listed grocery stores!! I am one of many lucky residents that literally lives across the street from this grocery store and do ALL of my shopping there. If it turned into something bigger, they’d have a bigger parking lot, bright lights and much more traffic. It would become a nightmare to live across from that! Right now it’s wonderful, the perfect size for this neighborhood. Were it to change, we might have to move and that would be terrible. I doubt I’d be the only one, either.

  • Magno

    That Thriftway is way overpriced you can get the same cheese at Trader Joes for way less plus they don’t carry a lot of products

  • Naenmagnolia

    Thriftway, QFC and Albertsons are all smaller than any grocery store should be. They all have limited selections. Obviosuly some more than others. When I lived on Cap Hill, the QFC on Broadway was tremendously bigger. Whole Foods is nice for select items but absolutely over priced..
    I can never get what I want in one place.. so I shop QFC, Trader Joes and Amazon Fresh. I have my produce delivered each week by Fullcircle Farms.

  • seattlenative

    Magnolia Thriftway is a locally owned family business! Let’s do our best to keep it here. Everyone’s revenue is down but that’s no reason to blame them. They can’t afford the deep discounts of chain stores (QFC, Albertson’s, Trader Joe’s) either. It’s a great store with lots of heart and soul. Please shop there when you can.

  • Snarkbark

    I don’t go to Thriftway as much now that Whole Foods is open. But when I need a “regular” grocery store, I shop at Thriftway. I would pick Thriftway any day over Albertsons or QFC.

  • Squidly

    I’d love a PCC there; I go to Whole Foods quite a bit now but would prefer PCC were it closer. I don’t think Magnolia could support one, though. I only go to the Thriftway when I am in a hurry and the Albertson’s is just gross.

  • Laura

    A PCC would be terrific, but I dont know that the space is big enough for all they can do there. I would like a Trader Joe’s that close too, but parking is better at the one in Ballard.

    We tend to go over to the Ballard Market anyway for grocerys because of the better quality for the price. the Magnolia thriftway is for ‘dang, we need cat food and ice cream’ moments, since we are right up the street.

  • Val

    I’m pretty happy with the selection at Thriftway for a store in a small neighborhood that only serves our neighborhood. But the organic produce at Whole Foods seems to be consistently cheaper and of higher quality.

  • czb

    Thriftway has always been overpriced (but so is Whole Foods, etc). Though I like to support local businesses and can appreciate the disadvantage of not having the size or market share to provide deep discounts, there are limits. I don’t want every local family-owned business to disappear in lieu of a another faceless chain and am willing to pay a premium to do my part, but the discrepancy in prices between Thriftway and (for instance) Trader Joe’s should be embarrassing to the owners.

  • magsea

    Wonder if a market is looking at the building Meikos was in.

  • Emily Penhollow

    Hi Magnolia!

    Just a little family history. My father, James came to Seattle when he was a teenager from Nebraska. He was just a shy kid and graduated from Rosevelt. He’s been married to my mother for 44 years this last weekend:) He had a little store up on Phinney Ridge and then bought a little store in Magnolia.

    My Parents raised 6 children and my father worked every single day. So you see he built Magnolia Thriftway from bottom to top. It used to be Richards when I was a little girl. My dad is the most amazing person I have ever met. He has lived the American dream, and is my hero.

    I just want to thank everyone in the community that has supported us. We love you guys!!!


  • keM

    I support Thriftway and the Penhollow’s. My family and I have been shopping there since I was in diapers when it was “Red Apple”. It has an amazing neighborhood feel and hope it is around for the next generation.

  • 125th st baller

    Well Tom i dont know about you but i can sure can see through wool. It may be difficult but you can.

    The cool kids are Thrifty Kids!!!

    obviously Tom isn’t a cool kid :(

    Have a good day shop Thriftway

  • Thriftway shopper

    I remember when it was “Richard’s” and sometimes I still call it that :) supporting not only local buisness but your friends and neighbors is what Seattle and specifically Magnolia is about…we long time Magnolia residents know this. No matter how many times I move away, I always come back to Magnolia and to shopping at Thriftway. I have never been treated with anything but kindness and they will do whatever they need to do to make sure your experience is a good one. We don’t want another big chain store here!! Don’t worry Em, we (your old friends and neighbors) are all behind you and your family!!

  • Pat Mc

    I used to work at Richards (Thriftway) years ago during high school, later I worked at Safeway and know many who have worked at QFC and Ballard Market etc. I know Thriftway to be a great place to work because of the family atmosphere. There is no one store that can be everything for everybody. The city needs Safeway’s and PCC’s alike. I think Thriftway is a nice middle of the road store that though limited by it’s size (therefore selection) is a nice friendly place to shop, and if you live in Mag town, convenient. Whole Foods is nice and new, but don’t forget to support your family grocer, because great stores like the Magnolia Thriftway set the bar high that all large stores model themselves after.

  • JRS

    I rarely shop there anymore, though I drive past it everyday. They put out substandard produce, deli items aren’t great, the meat packages are dripping with juice and the seafood people will have their hands in the garbage before coming to help you without washing their hands. And they rarely ask to help you out to the car. I shop at Met Market, which is a local, family owned business too! I would love them to come to the neighborhood. I used to shop the Thriftway for everything and now go there once every couple of months if I have to, but I choose to take my money elsewhere.

  • Val

    Agreed regarding the deli … always the same, and nothing’s much good. Anything with chicken chunks in it tastes like it was made with pieces of chicken that were leftover from a day or two earlier. However, Thriftway makes the best crab cakes ever (but please don’t ever bring back the horror of the lobster cakes).

  • Tom

    I want to add to my comment that even though I can see through the “everything is going just fine” statement. I will continue to support the small local neighborhood Thriftway that is family owned and operated.

  • harbour

    I have six locks on my door, all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three of them.

  • Paula

    Magnolia Thriftway may not be the biggest, the cheapest, or the trendiest, but they represent what Magnolia is, plain and simple: friendly, fair, and reliable.

    The Penhollows have been a part of this community for many, many decades (and have raised many, many kids here!) and they have done a great job of providing variety and value for a local market. If you shop there, you likely live here. And surely, you realize going off the hill for things has a time and place– and ideally, that isn’t dinnertime! Magnolia Thriftway is right there for you with the one missing ingredient you need for dinner, which should be the very definition of a local market.

    My favorite Magnolia Thriftway memory (though probably at the time, they were Red Apple) was when John F Kennedy Jr. stopped in for picnic supplies on a spin through Magnolia in the early 90’s (a friend of his lived here.) When Mr. P brought the deposit down to the bank in the village, us tellers grilled him relentlessly regarding the A-lister in our midst, though I’m not sure he was quite as impressed as we were (since we, at the time, were twentysomething females.)

    I’d be sad if Thriftway changed hands. Geez, people, if you want Trader Joe’s cheap or QFC’s variety stop whining, and drive the mile or so. I know you have a car. You live on a dang hill, with crappy bus service for Pete’s sake. But I think if you actually read the Thriftway flyers, you’ll find great deals there. Plus…PLUS, they are in the Chinook book this year, and you can whack $20 off your bill if you spend $100. That’s on top of other coupons! So, spread around the love and realize you have a dedicated local merchant, and SHOP there!

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