I'm gonna be totally honest, I was skeptical about this place. Seriously-- I feel that way about almost anyplace that has the word 'outlet' in the title. So yah, I profiled this place based just on the name. And later, when they started building, I was even more concerned. Location, lack of parking, size all confirmed my worries. But man, was I wrong-- at least about some of it.
I skipped the Grand Opening but when I needed to pick up some ice for a guest the day after, I noticed that there happened to be an open parking space, so I decided to give it a try.
WOW. I was totally impressed from the first second I walked in the door. Everything was organized, simple, abundant, and very moderately priced. If Trader Joe's and Aldi had a baby, this would be it. It's truly the best of all worlds: the style, organization and feel of a Trader Joe's with the prices of Aldi.
Even though the space is small for a grocery store, it feels big with soaring ceiling height and shorter center rows of grocery staples. Tons of space are spent on the periphery of the space, with a surprisingly vast wine selection up front and produce in the back of the store.
I was impressed with the selection of organic, gluten free and specialty foods offered, as well as vitamins and supplements along the wall. It is indeed full of 'natural, organic, specialty & healthy' items, just like the sign says. They even had a display of seafood right upfront, which looked and smelled fresh and was priced very competitively.
The staff was friendly and willing to help, though good-naturedly willing to admit they were just learning the inventory themselves. They all seemed happy and excited to be employees, so I'm willing to bet these are long-term staff, not seasonal stop-ins.
My ice was 1/2 the price I would have paid at Rite Aid or Von's. I bought my friend a comparably affordable $6 orchid, which is a great price. We did have to do a little digging to find one that hadn't been harmed in transit, though.
We spent so long in the wine section that my husband had to come fetch us (buzz kill). I used my favorite wine app, Vivino, (to read about Vivino, click here) to search up these wines, which were not mainstream vineyards with immediate name recognition. We found several to try, which were highly rated and a very good value as compared to the prices listed on Vivino. Word of caution: some of the signage indicated that wines were a much better value than we found them to be on Vivino. And some had truly deplorable reviews. So choose carefully.
There are tons of vitamins and supplements but strangely, comparably few medicines and drug store items, like my very favorite item of all time: Carmex. I was actually stunned that they did not carry carmex, but am hopeful that they will see the light and order some.
Some of my original concerns are valid. The location is great for visibility, but truly terrible for traffic and congestion. There are only 40 or so parking spaces, which is going to make parking a challenge in an already crowded location--particularly during/after heavy storms when snow will be piled high. My guess is that many people will park across the street in Rite Aid's large lot and Frogger their way to the Grocery Outlet. If you do that, please be cautious. That are is very treacherous for crossing, with lots of cars pulling in and out of various stores, shops and gas stations.
Mary Beth is the owner of Adventure Refined, where she offers true luxury Mammoth Lakes homes to guests. In her spare time she runs a ranch, loves a test pilot, and raises 4 boys & a Rhodie rescue.