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October 20, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Olson’s Food Emporium closing: my Eaters weep

Northern neighbors are fit to be tied, and I heard from a few of them about the upcoming closure of Olson’s Food Emporium on the Mukilteo Speedway, slated for mid-November or sooner according to the Everett Herald. Meanwhile, Mukilteo resident Cindy Clark laughed through her tears when she told me it’s all her fault — sort of.

My garden-variety Olson’s shopping basket. I’m saving it for posterity.

After a trip out of town, Cindy flew into Sea-Tac Saturday and headed north to find the Alaska Way viaduct closed. Detouring to First Avenue South, it was down to one lane and backed up. Ditto for Fourth Avenue. “Finally,” she explained, “we got onto I-5 and I said, “What do you want to bet Food Emporium will be closed!” Truer words were never said. Stopping on the way home for groceries, she learned her go-to supermarket was indeed set to close. Her first clue? There were no bananas.

What’s more, “the store was mobbed by bargain hunters snapping up gravy mixes, jams, etc. and maybe saving a huge $10 per loaded cart.” Cindy said. “I am still feeling a huge loss for those of us that value quality over Big Corporate.” In addition to a “terrific” selection of high-quality meats wrapped to order by helpful butchers, and an equally inviting seafood counter, “it’s the only grocery store where I can find dried posole,” Cindy insists. In addition, “It’s staffed by experienced folks, whose faces and banter I will miss very much.”

Eater L. Killian emailed her agreement: “While the store and deli always have great things, it’s the people who work there that make it such a great place and I’ll miss them a lot.” Seventy-five employees will lose their jobs according to the Herald, which also notes that this is the last store owned by the Olson family, once Snohomish County’s fourth-largest employer.

Ah, Olson’s. I remember it well. When I moved to Edmonds, my local QFC was an Olson’s. And when the changeover went down, I spent a buck on a utilitarian keepsake: the basket in the photo above, now housing garden gear. When I mentioned my long-ago buy to Cindy, she suggested that perhaps now, with the last of the Olson chain going out of business, I might consider selling the basket on eBay. “You’ll make a million,” she joked. Better to laugh than cry, I guess.

Anybody else want to weigh in on the closure? Me, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that my favorite “little grocery store that could” keeps on chugging along. Hmmm. Perhaps I should head down there right now for one of their homemade egg salad-sandwiches and pick up a nice roast to cook for dinner.

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