Mega-markets that offer a wide variety of goods have often taken over many communities, yet there is still a need for the little neighborhood stores. They may not have clothing or caviar, but they certainly offer good and friendly service.
This is the Main St. Market at its best, in downtown Warrenton. Walking into the store, the customer is welcomed by the staff, who serve with a smile on their faces. After the shopping is done, the staff pack up the bags and carry them out to the customer’s car. The store may not be too big, but it provides most kinds of food and basic household supplies. The owners, Tommy and Jeanne Smith, look for ways to make the store a good fit for the community.
They have managed the store for over two years, and they feel like they are on the right path. One review from social media said, “This is the best market around. They treat their customers right and they have the best meat specials around. I couldn’t ask for a better place to shop.”
Updates at the Right Pace
The Smiths purchased the store in August of 2015 from Mike and Tami Aho, who owned the store for over 25 years. The Ahos left a legacy of a great neighborhood store with a good reputation for quality meat, cleanliness, and wonderful customer service.
“Those are three critical components that you have to have in order to compete against the big chain stores. Our goal is to take what they were doing and build on it,” Tommy Smith says.
The customers have warmly welcomed the new owners and have found excitement in some of the updates. The first area the Smiths wanted to focus on was the produce department. They added more shelves and more fresh products, including organic produce. Last December, they added seven more freezer doors to expand the frozen food section. The owners have many more ideas for updates and changes, but want to move at the right pace.
“The people have been shopping here for years and like the store. It is critical that we move at the right pace for the right reasons when making improvements,” Tommy Smith says, adding, “We never want to lose that hometown feel.”
Tommy Smith brings a great expertise to the meat department, and he continues to keep up the reputation it has earned over the years. He has worked many years in grocery stores and has a very impressive background in the meat industry. As a high school student, Smith worked as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store in East Wenatchee, Washington, where he grew up. He soon found his place in the meat department as an apprentice meat cutter. Since then, he has worked for a few different companies and has held many positions — from meat cutter, to meat buyer, meat counselor, meat director, and, finally, as vice president of merchandise. This latest role introduced him to small grocery store owners, helping them to create programs and sales plans to compete in their market area.
When Tommy and Jeanne met in the late 1980s, he was working as a meat cutter, and she was working as a clerk in a health and beauty department. After being married about ten years, they decided to explore the country and have since moved around because of Tommy’s job. They have lived in Arkansas, Oklahoma City and Missouri, and the family has grown with three children.
“When our first daughter was two years old, we started looking at new work options and a fresh start. We sold our home in East Wenatchee, packed all our belongings into a U-Haul truck, and set out for a cross country adventure. Our original plan was to move to South Carolina, but we never made it there. We ended up staying in Arkansas for the next four years after visiting a family in the area,” Tommy Smith recalls. They then moved a few more times and finally headed to Warrenton in 2015 to start their first grocery store business.
“We have always envisioned coming back to the Northwest where our families are from. We often vacationed at the Oregon Coast and had talked of this being our retirement dream. After 23 years, it feels like coming home,” Tommy and Jeanne say.
Now the whole family shares the business and passion for serving customers at the store. Their eldest daughter, Kailee Kobe, runs the produce department; son Bobby runs the frozen food, dairy, and deli departments; and the youngest, Jordan, works as cashier and stocker. The Smith’s granddaughter, Kaisyn Kobe, often “helps” at the sales door or plays at her own designated play area in the back room, while her grandmother, “JeaJea,” does the books.
“Beside our family, we have ten wonderful employees, each of whom plays a critical role in the success of the business,” Tommy Smith says. He points out a few of the longer time employees. “Sam Short, who runs the front-end and helps out in other departments when needed; a lead checker, Melinda Quaschnich, who has been with the store over ten years; Robert Don, who also worked for the previous owners, runs the meat department and does an outstanding job.” The owners appreciate that Don continues to offer the same quality the customers have come to expect from the meat department. He is passionate about cooking and experiments with new seasonings and rubs, often teaching customers how to cook the products.
“We can’t express our gratitude to the community of Warrenton nearly enough. We have felt welcomed here since the day we took over the store. Our customers are truly amazing, and many of them have become good friends. It is truly a pleasure to serve in this community, and we hope we can bring a smile to people when they shop with us,” Tommy and Jeanne Smith say.
The Main St. Market is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Follow store news from Main St. Market Facebook page.