PCC rebrands to emphasize its local roots

With the big conventional grocers carrying more and more organics, and competitors including Portland-based New Seasons and now Amazon-owned Whole Foods encroaching on PCC’s traditional domain, the local consumer-owned grocery co-op is renaming itself PCC Community Markets.

The last time PCC changed its name — from Puget Consumers Co-op to PCC Natural Markets in 1998 — it was because some people didn’t know they could buy food from the co-op, and it came at a time organic and natural foods were still a rarity at most grocery stores.

On Wednesday, PCC changes its name again — to PCC Community Markets. Now even huge, conventional grocers are carrying more and more organics, e-commerce is reshaping the industry, and a host of competitors, including Portland-based New Seasons and the Whole Foods + Amazon behemoth, are all encroaching on PCC’s traditional domain. Add to that the influx of newcomers to the Seattle area who may not even know about PCC.

That prompted the retailer “to look internally and say: What is it that keeps us relevant, makes us unique and special in a grocery industry that’s changing, in a city that’s growing dramatically,” said Cate Hardy, chief executive of PCC Community Markets. “What is PCC’s position and relevance in that market?”

PCC Community Markets

Number of stores: 10 currently open. West Seattle store closed for redevelopment, reopening in 2019. Burien store scheduled to open in 2018; Madison Valley in 2020.

Sales: $277.7 million in 2016, up 10 percent from 2015

Profit: $7.6 million, up 39 percent from 2015

Members: 58,000 households

Membership: $60 for a lifetime membership. Benefits include 10 percent off one shopping trip each month, and 5 percent off on the 15th and 16th of each month. (Membership is not needed to purchase items at PCC.)

Source: PCC Community Markets

The conclusion — after a year and a half of market research — reinforced what PCC staff had already known on some level: What makes it stand out is that, “We’re from here, always have been,” Hardy said. “We’ve never expanded out of the three-county area here. Most uniquely, we’re owned by our members.”

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That means the grocer is beholden only to the community, not “a venture-capital firm in Boston or Silicon Valley or Wall Street, or a large retail behemoth that might buy companies like ours,” Hardy said. “We…

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