The term “bacon-cutting ceremony” doesn't come up often, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen at 10 a.m. Wednesday for the grand opening of the new Lucky’s Market grocery store at Southgate Mall in Missoula.
“We don’t cut ribbons here, we cut bacon,” said Sarah Greengross, a regional marketing specialist with the Colorado-based company. “Our bacon, we smoke it in-house. It’s a product we’re really passionate about.”
The new store has been under construction for months but its rows of organic/natural-focused foods and a huge deli — with a ramen/sushi bar — are finally being unveiled to the public this week.
On Wednesday, the company will present $10,000 in combined grant donations to three local nonprofits. Garden City Harvest will get funds to provide educational materials, tools, compost and straw for the community gardens program. Youth Homes will get a donation to support its Youth Crisis Diversion Project and to provide shelter and resources for 10 kids in crisis for three days each. Open Aid Alliance will get funds to buy a new laptop to train individuals in overdose prevention and response.
Lucky’s Market was founded in 2003 in Boulder, Colorado, by Bo and Trish Sharon, a husband-and-wife team who met in culinary school. They decided to open a store, but they wanted to add their own twist.
“They positioned themselves as a natural and organic grocery store, and they wanted to make it fun,” Greengross said. “Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be another check mark on your to-do list. So now here we are 28 stores later in 2018 opening in beautiful Missoula. You can see that commitment to fresh and quality products. It’s colorful and vibrant. Personally, I could just get lost looking at all the items.”
The store is focused on ready-to-eat meals and has large indoor and outdoor dining sections.
“A big part of that is our culinary department, our made-in-house items,” she said. “So our salad bar, our hot bar. We make everything in our deli case fresh from scratch. You can get a made-to-order sandwich or pizza by the slice or whole."
The ramen bar features cooks waiting to take your order for ingredients, "so you can get ramen made to order with whatever kind of broth or whatever kind of toppings," she said.
"If you’re vegan we have vegan-friendly options as well, and (you can) sit right here and eat it. We want to make the store a hub and you can enjoy dinner or lunch with your family. We want it to be that all-inclusive experience.”
The store has its own private-label “Lucky’s” brand items, and 10 percent of the profits from those items go to the store’s community impact programs. For example, Lucky’s sells its own organic black beans for 79 cents and pre-cooked four-cheese/basil ravioli in turmeric egg dough for $6.99.
“You get to buy a tasty, good-quality product and know that in turn you are supporting the Missoula community through your purchase,” Greengross said.
Shoppers who bring their own reusable shopping bags through Aug. 18 can choose to get a 10-cent credit on their purchase or send that dime to one of several nonprofits, including CASA of Missoula, Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development (WORD Inc.) or the Poverello Center homeless shelter.
On May 8, the store’s “Impact Day” will send 10 percent of the day’s total net sales to the Watershed Education Network to purchase field supplies for the weekend citizen-science project, Stream Team, for one calendar year.
On May 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Local Vendor Fair will showcase specialty foods and products from local companies.
All around the store, customers can find the “Lucky Find” program products — “a bunch of different products that we’re excited about and we offer at everyday low prices,” Greengross said. “You can find them around the store with a sign with a red circle. Coffee is $5.99 a pound, and baguettes and coconut water are 99 cents. You can get two slices of pizza and a pint of Nourishing Cultures kombucha for five bucks every day.”
Store manager Chad Johnson said the store employs about 150 people and is open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day.
“It was great,” he said. “It was awesome to see, showing it off to my wife and mother-in-law. It was a lot of hard work getting ready for the opening, but it was a lot of fun work. Last night was the reward. We finally got to show it off. It was so busy that we just had fun with it.”