Grocery Outlet volunteers during wait

Sandy Thornton, left, organizes dishes at the Polk Resource Center warehouse.

Sandy Thornton, left, organizes dishes at the Polk Resource Center warehouse.

DALLAS — The Grocery Outlet in Dallas won’t open until Feb. 14, but part of the store’s crew was already at work at the Dallas Food Bank and Polk County Resource Center warehouse last week.


Jason and Sandy Thornton, the owners of the store still being built on West Ellendale near Taco Bell, and seven of their employees volunteered their time to stock shelves and sort donations at both organizations.

“Grocery Outlet is donating their wages for all the volunteering that we’ve been doing in the community,” Jason Thornton said. “That is one of our core beliefs, giving back to the community that we live in. We do it because we can, and we want to. It’s neat to see our employees doing this type of stuff because they didn’t have to. They’re getting paid, but they still like doing it.”

Encouraging their employees to volunteer is something the couple began as the operators of the Grocery Outlet in Newberg. They’ll continue the tradition with the new crew in Dallas, working with the food bank, resource center and the schools to begin with.

“That is something that we are passionate about. We like giving back,” Sandy Thornton said last week as they worked at the resource center warehouse, part of the county’s Family & Community Outreach program. “And we like hanging out together. We’re a family. It’s like hanging out with our kids.”

Jason Thornton, who has worked in the retail grocery industry for 30 years, said it is the couple’s dream to open a store in Dallas. They have lived in the West Salem area of Polk County since 1999, and said working here is like a homecoming. “Newberg was great start for us. It gave us a lot of experience and we got a solid crew from there. We’ve come back,” he said. “We feel like we are back home.”

Sandy Thornton said Grocery Outlet, which offers products at a discount, wanted to give the community another option for shopping when it began planning the Dallas store.

The city approved development plans in March of 2018.

Jason Thornton said the majority of the 40 people the couple hired live in the Dallas area. He said more than 170 applications were turned in for those positions.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people are looking for jobs in Dallas,” Jason Thornton said. “We have over 170 resumes. It was really a hard decision on some of them.”

Sandy and Jason said they are relieved that the store is almost ready to welcome customers at 9 a.m. on Feb. 14.

“You have no idea,” Sandy Thornton said.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Jason Thornton said.

The initial opening target date was in November, but construction delays pushed that back to February. Jason Thornton said the grand opening won’t be moved a second time.

“That is happening,” he said. “We will burn the candle at both ends to make sure it happens.”

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