Last week, employees of Lamb’s Thriftway in Troutdale told my wife and I the store would close sometime in August. The closure was announced in yesterday’s Gresham Outlook, which said the store had lost $4 million since 2001. Lamb’s manager Tanney Staffenson indicated it was the only store they ever had to close. This is a real tragedy for Troutdale.
I couldn’t help but get out my trusty calculator and do the math. According to the Gresham Outlook, the Troutdale Thriftway lost $4 million since 2001. This works out to about $80,000 per month, or about $2,666 per day. Dividing $2,666 per day into the store’s non-summer hours of 6am-10pm (14 hours), the hourly loss figures out to about $190 per hour over four years.
So two or three grocery carts per hour kept Troutdale’s Thriftway from staying in business. That's a pretty fine line when competing head to head with Safeway, Albertson’s, Winco and Fred Meyer, all within about four miles of the Troutdale Thriftway.
The Troutdale Thriftway had so much going for it: excellent customer service (the employees knew us by name!), a great produce and deli section, and great location (we shopped there every day, walking to the store most of the time during the summer).
The major negative to the store was their higher prices. Thriftway’s prices were significantly higher than its competitors. For us, the convenience and customer service were worth the higher prices. But for most other folks, apparently price was the deciding factor when shopping for groceries. When you're raising a family, every penny counts, even if it means a longer drive, huge parking lots, long lines, mediocre customer service, and privacy-intrusive "club cards".
Now I’m going to have to find another store to stop at on the way to work in the morning for my I-84 rush hour breakfast of banana, donut, and pint of milk.
It won’t be the same, though. Goodbye, Troutdale Thriftway. You and your great employees will be sorely missed.