SUNNYSIDE — With the dairy shelves being stocked and employees working diligently earlier this week, Grocery Outlet owners Kevin and Tonya Richmond are excited for Thursday’s grand opening celebration.

There will be a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m., followed by the opening of the doors.

Kevin said he is excited to bring high-quality food to the Lower Yakima Valley at reasonable prices.

The Richmonds have moved to the area after living the past two decades in the Portland area.

“We both grew up in Washington,” Kevin said.

They were looking for an opportunity to live closer to family and wanted to relocate to a small town.

The couple has two adult children and two student age kids who attend public schools.

After a visit to Sunnyside, the couple fell in love with the community.

About a month ago, they conducted interviews, looking for employees that fit the personality of the community. They said they wanted to hire people who are friendly and had positive attitudes.

Instead of the 1-day job fair they had planned, the event lasted two days, Tonya said.

“We hated turning anyone away… we didn’t expect so much interest… but it’s a good thing because we found employees on the second day, too,” she said.

“Both of us have 30 years’ experience in grocery,” Kevin said.

They have helped open and operate grocery stores for large grocery chains.

“We have been involved in every aspect,” Kevin said. “This is the first time we are doing set-up for ourselves.”

The couple has done their homework to make the store accommodating for customers. They have combined information about recommended flows to the store layout and insight from employees.

“We have made some changes to suit the community,” Tonya said.

Setting up has gone relatively smooth with the exception of some delayed deliveries due to the weather, the couple said.

The store, they said, offers “a little bit of everything” from some basic housewares to snacks.

On the day of the opening, Tonya said, “Expect big lines.”

There will also be other activities through the weekend, including live radio remotes and face painting by the Sunnyside High School Latin Club.

What they are most excited about is being a part of the community and seeking opportunities to help local schools.

The Richmonds said they are working toward the goal of reading in elementary school classrooms and offering healthy eating tours for youngsters.

They are also partnering with Sunnyside High School to provide a $500 scholarship to one graduating senior at the end of the school year. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, exemplified leadership skills and provide proof of college enrollment.

Eligible applicants can submit a 350-word essay to the counselor’s office until March 1.

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