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Your Local Market's Idealism May Not be Enough

Your Local Market made a big push discounting their inventory by 40 percent "for a revamp of the market," according to their Facebook page. What the revamp looks like remains uncertain.

News that Bellevue’s  discounted to raise cash immediately raised a few eyebrows of local consumers.

The news also hit at my idealistic core.

Your Local Market founder . His hope is to bring a local organic goods shopping alternative to Bellevue. He integrated fundraising and community-driven campaigns into his marketing strategy.

Brown set out to combine the best qualities both of organic goods markets such as PCC Natural Markets and  and of large supermarket chains, such as QFC, Safeway and Albertson’s. He hopes to capture the growing organic goods consumers and consolidating their shopping by providing everyday staples that may not be available at a specialty grocer such as PCC or Whole Foods, and saving shoppers a trip to another store.

Entrepreneurship is nothing new to Brown. Previously, he developed Vitamin Advisor for popular and controversial integrated medicine advocate Andrew Weil. Brown has built and sold companies with varying success.

Make no mistake about it, Brown has his detractors, warranted or not. When you take chances as an entrepreneur like Brown has during his career, you are likely to encounter enemies. It remains a part of the cost of doing business or maybe a side effect of doing business.  

But Brown’s goal of combining the best of PCC with the best of QFC might be misguided or perhaps, ahead of its time. It’s difficult to be all things to all consumers, especially as a start-up. Perhaps specializing in the competitive grocery business might have been a smarter way to go. 

For example, Issaquah-based Costco set out to stay focused. Costco sells only a few products under each category at margins no larger than 14 percent over wholesale with the hopes of quick inventory turnover. They understand that their members would supplement their needs by shopping elsewhere. 

Costco’s profit is focused on large volume sales and no-frills minimal overhead. Their warehouse doubles as their sales floor. Groceries are not bagged but packed in recycled boxes that were used to deliver the goods to the warehouse in the first place.

Some say it’s merely a façade to give the impression of no-frills. Regardless of the intent, it’s working.

Your Local Market’s most recent announcements have been austere and candid. The Bellevue supermarket announced on their Facebook page, “As you may have noticed our shelves have been looking a little sparse these last few days... Our goal right now is to make way for a revamp of the market,” .

also targeted Your Local Market on their Facebook Page, urging followers to shop at the store. But Cash Mob Bellevue has only 21 fans on their Facebook page, including me and my friend Gene Dexter. A more entrepreneurial and aggressive marketing strategy may be required at this point. 

But I am not here to pass judgment on Brown’s choices. It’s not for me as a journalist to root for a business’ success or hope for their demise. I strive to empower readers to become smarter consumers.

In the end, if the consumers don’t see enough of a need for what Brown is selling, the market will reflect that. I just hope that idealism doesn’t die if Your Local Market dies.

Sherry Douceur June 21, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Since I prefer to shop on a daily basis for the groceries I need, I never really saw the appeal of one-stop shopping. I am a regular customer of 6 different grocery stores (each place has something unique to offer). Furthermore, I never saw how one could even create a one-stop shopping destination in such a small space. Although I was optimistic at first about the remodel and specialization of Your Local Market, I am not anymore given the way the whole "revamping" has been handled thus far.
Chris Nishiwaki June 21, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Thank you for your insight Sherry! I, too, prefer to shop at multiple specialty stores. Can you please share more of your thoughts on the "revamping" of Your Local Market?
Sherry Douceur June 21, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I thought the idea of focusing on local, organic, fresh products could possibly work well in that space and location. It could be almost more like a year round farmer's market plus a nice prepared food section as well as local, specialty foods. However, I feel that Your Local Market has not really been as open and transparent about the difficulties they were facing as they should have been. And now, aside from a Facebook post here and there, they have stopped communicating with their customers as far I as can tell. I had become a regular customer of this place in the past few months because I liked their mission and they had some special items I went there for. And I thought perhaps it had potential. it was sad to see the place fall apart before the potential could be realized.
Daniel Crowder June 23, 2012 at 02:40 PM
They've also stopped communicating with their vendors, many who are local and simply left holding the bill! How awful. This guy filled his store with product he then wasn't able to pay for. Instead of being honest, he simply kept ordering, saying he had 'financing' coming through. When that didn't pan out, instead of being honest, he said they were holding funds for 'something big' that they couldn't disclose, but they would take care of everyone. Since then it's just been grasps for cash, including the Become an Investor and 40% off of goods we still haven't paid for sale. Looking online there are stories from where he owned Orgabic to Go and did the same thing to the vendors that supplied him product there. Don't know about you, but I prefer to spend my money with someone honest that isn't taking FROM the community by breaking small business owners, while putting up fronts. As he was holding charity events and donating a portion of the sales, there was product in the store selling that he hadn't paid for. Do something for good cause, but not on someone else's back!!
John Vidale June 23, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Thanks for the backstory. I had been wondering about Local Market, and these are the kind of local stories I can only find here at Patch.
Brad H June 25, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I am very surprised the Patch has not responded to this! In addition, you can research Right By Nature market in Pittsburgh...
Jim McLeod June 26, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Any other "burnt" investors in the Local Market Ponzi scheme should contact Aimee.Richardson@ic.fbi.gov P.S. That store is not re-opening.
Jim McLeod June 29, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Brown filed bankruptcy ,over 4 million owing creditors.

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