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PCC Community Markets delay opening of downtown Seattle location to 2022

Seattle Post-Intelligencer logo Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4 days ago by Callie Craighead, SeattlePI

A local grocery co-op is delaying the opening of its new location in Seattle amid the labor shortage and an unsure economic recovery of the downtown retail core as many workers continue to telecommute.

PCC Community Markets announced Wednesday it was pushing back the opening date of its downtown outpost to early 2022. Located at 401 Union St. in Rainier Square, the store is set to occupy 20,000 square feet and bring fresh, local food and produce to the neighborhood.

The company said it was delaying the opening partially due to the fact that there is less foot traffic in the area. Additionally, a nationwide labor shortage was also a contributing factor. The store is expected to bring 100 new union jobs to the area, according to PCC.

To address food insecurity in the city, the company introduced a new Downtown Seattle Food Access Grant to provide $25,000 to nonprofits focused on food access. Applications for the grant will open on June 22.

"PCC is committed to helping build back a vibrant and healthy Downtown," said PCC CEO and President Suzy Monford in a news release Wednesday. "When Downtown PCC opens in 2022, it will bring the neighborhood local, organic and sustainably sourced food. But we know that it is critical to address the growing food insecurity in our community now, and we are excited to offer our new food access grant program to support our Downtown neighbors."

PCC boasts an active membership of just over 80,000 households. The co-op has 15 stores in the Puget Sound area, including locations in Bothell, Burien, Edmonds, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and West Seattle.

The store made headlines earlier this year for initially opposing a $4 hazard pay ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council in February. The ordinance requires all grocery businesses that employ at least 500 employees worldwide to give employees an extra $4 per hour in hazard pay throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the store's management argued that the city should focus instead on vaccinating essential workers and warned of the negative impacts the ordinance could have on the slim profit margin it operates under.

"Unlike large corporate grocers who saw a large sustained uptick in sales nationwide, we have not had a sustained increase in sales and do not have a national footprint to rely on to offset these costs nor the cost of doing business in Seattle," Monford wrote.

The store eventually reached an agreement with UFCW 21, the union representing grocery store workers in the region, to expand hazard pay across all of its stores in the Puget Sound region.

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