Employee-Owned WinCo Set to Shake Up the Valley's Supermarket Scene

On the heels of the news that Sprouts Farmers Market will merge with competitor Sunflower Farmers Market, a new grocery store is preparing to further shake up the Valley's competitive supermarket scene.

WinCo, the employee-owned, no-frills discount supermarket based in Boise, Idaho, has announced that it will open two locations in Phoenix and Glendale on April 1. The company, who has been in business for over forty years and calls itself"The Supermarket Low Price Leader!" currently has 82 stores in six states (Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah) and employs over 13,000 members.

Reminiscent of a warehouse store, WinCo asks customers to bag their own groceries, stacks much of its merchandise on pallets (although typical grocery store areas like a deli, butcher shop, and a bakery do exist), sells in bulk, and does not accept credit cards -- all of which help to keep costs low.

And because they own a stake in the company, are WinCo's employees more motivated than those in competing supermarkets? They were when I visited one of their California locations. And the friendly service, along with the low prices, could be what differentiates WinCo from other Valley grocery competitors such as Fry's, Safeway, Walmart, and Bashas'.

The Arizona Republic reports that the new WinCo stores, large enough to be in former Costco and Walmart sites, will be at 330 West Bell Road in Phoenix and 5850 West Bell Road in Glendale. Both sites are set to open on April 1.

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