Grocery Outlet was founded in 1946 in San Francisco, California, by James Read, who purchased surplus government food and resold the items in rented vacant stores in and around the greater San Francisco area. Originally called Cannery Sales, the company changed its name in 1970 to Canned Foods, which was changed again in 1987 to Grocery Outlet, when James sons, Steven and Peter, took over the company.
Today, Grocery Outlet has approximately 265 locations in 4 states. The company buys overstock and closeout items directly from manufacturers. Also offered are fresh produce and meat. Some consumers have complained that Grocery Outlet sells items that are at or just past their expiration dates. CEO’s state that these dates are usually “best if eaten before” and not “will go bad by” dates. All items are pulled 7 days after their expiration dates.
The company was acquired by Hellman & Friedman, LLC, in 2014, but is operated by the Read family.
In June 2019, the company announced its plans to go public on the NASDAQ. There are currently 300 locations in 6 states. The company has frequently been referred to as the “TJ MAXX” of grocery stores.
Headquarters are now located in Emeryville, California.