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January 2, 2007 > Lucky shoppers win a free shopping spree in Newark market

Lucky shoppers win a free shopping spree in Newark market

Newark resident Pam Houps had two minutes...exactly 120 ticks of the second-hand on the clock!

Grocery Outlet in Newark was a whirlwind of activity on Friday morning. Shoppers were careful to leave adequate room along the aisles of bargains that occupy shelves and refrigeration units for two lucky winners of a free timed shopping spree. For the two winners, the thought paramount in their minds was how long time can seem to be in some instances and yet, when each tick of the clock has extreme significance, time appears to compress; it becomes questionable whether there are really 60 seconds in each minute.

Newark resident Pam Houps had two minutes...exactly 120 ticks of the second-hand on the clock! For that period of time, she frantically pushed a grocery cart and scooped as many groceries as possible into it during her free shopping spree. This single mom was one of the winners of a contest held by Len and Jo Ann Wesson, co-owners and operators of the Newark Grocery Outlet.

Primed by previous shopping trips and recent visits to reconnoiter key store locations, Houps ended up filling three carts with a mountain of frozen meats and fish for her home freezer and one on loan at Fremont Christian School where she has worked for 23 years. With friends and relatives cheering her on and counting out the time, Pam was able to load up over $500 of merchandise. At the Grocery Outlet, where the emphasis is on value and bargains are expected, the merchandise in the carts was probably equivalent to twice the dollar amount at other stores.

A companion shopping spree was donated to the Salvation Army in Newark. This created an opportunity for Capt. Julius Murphy to demonstrate his prowess in finding key items to restock the shelves of their pantry that had been depleted over the Christmas holidays. Although some items had been decimated by the Houps invasion, Captain Murphy was resourceful and managed to bring in close to $400 of groceries, mostly meats and fish from the frozen food section as well.

The Wessons explained that their store is part of a large Berkeley-based group of 125 stores in six western states and Hawaii. These mostly independently-owned markets use a unique central system of buyers throughout the United States to take advantage of overstocks, closeouts and promotional items from large food processors to offer products at sensational prices to their customers. Each store is able to select those items deemed most appropriate for its marketplace. The result is a store stocked with values unmatched at other discount chains. Products from groceries to wine and sundries can be found at Grocery Outlet, usually at extremely deep discounts.

When asked about brands that are unfamiliar, Len explained that although they may be unknown at local markets, these are often name brands in other parts of the country. Grocery Outlet buys much of its merchandise from major manufacturers such as Kraft, Best Foods, Heinz, and Hunts. Unlike many of the "big box" stores where food is often found in mega containers, Grocery Outlet sells its merchandise singly and in regular size containers so the dilemma of buying five items to get the three that you really wanted is avoided. An efficient distribution system makes sure that date stamped items reach consumers well within the time recommended by manufacturers.

Even though there were only two lucky winners of the shopping spree contest, others who frequent Grocery Outlet have found the store to be a "treasure hunt" of values. This unusual store takes advantage of buying opportunities, so merchandise displayed one week will not necessarily be available the next. Staple items such as dairy and produce are usually available at Grocery Outlet. For those who have yet to take advantage of this unique store, it is worth a trip to Newark's Old Town to see what you are missing. Grocery Outlet is a clean, well-maintained store that is sure to reward a search for special bargains.

Grocery Outlet
36601 Newark Blvd., Newark
(510) 791-5124

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