Fork Dork: Your Local Market's Idealism May Not be Enough

Your Local Market made a big push discounting its inventory by 40 percent "for a revamp of the market," according to its Facebook page. What the revamp will look 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, and 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 and  and of large supermarket chains, such as , and . 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 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. The chain understands that its members will supplement their needs by shopping elsewhere. 

Costco’s profit is focused on large volume sales and no-frills minimal overhead. Its warehouse doubles as its 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 its 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,” and .

also targeted Your Local Market on its Facebook Page, encouraging followers to shop at the store. But Cash Mob Bellevue has only 21 fans on its 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 to root for a business’ success or hope for its 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.


Editor's note: Your Local Market announced a temporary closure of its store the day after this column ran. Details are available on Bellevue Patch ().


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