In the coming weeks, Meridian Market—located in Tangletown, across from Zoka and Mighty-O’s—will distribute a notice with customer purchases: Customer headcount has plummeted 40 percent since last year, and the market’s looking for all the help they can get.
Store owner, Wallace “Wally” Wright [Ed note: no relation to the blog] says he’s had no choice but to shorten store hours, cut staff and hold back on products they once carried, leaving some shelves bare. An eccentric, independent neighborhood market, Meridian’s the only one of its kind in Wallingford. With nearby competitors, such as QFC, Trader Joe’s and Safeway, though, it’s entirely reliant upon community support for survival. “We try to maintain lower prices than Whole Foods, but can’t go as low as Safeway,” said financial director Julie Guffey, a three-year employee of Wright’s.
More dire than their attempts to keep costs low for customers is their recent struggle to consistently put products on the shelf. “If we can get our head-count up, we can fill our shelves,” says Wright. He estimates that the market’s chances would improve “if we can get at least 30 percent of the shopping needs of everyone in the community.”
This April will mark their three-year anniversary, although Wright’s hardly new to the small grocery business. Before Meridian, he ran Phinney Market (60th and Phinney) for nearly five years. Wright drew inspiration for the markets from his European travels, as he wished to capture the concept of staying local, gathering in a marketplace daily and interaction amongst community members. The small corner business crams a little bit of everything under their roof. In addition to being a full-service market they offer a deli for eat-in or take-out, tri-weekly family-style meals, twice-a-month wine tastings, local artists’ work, a wine club and have even hosted debate parties. They carry many local and organic products and keep their employees well-versed on the providers. “We try to stay away from the 7-Eleven concept,” said Guffey.
Every Monday night, Meridian features a comfort food special, ranging anywhere from spiral ham with potatoes au gratin to prime rib. Thursdays are made-to-order pasta night, and for weekend outings there’s Saturday morning breakfast, complete with scrambles, omelets, burritos, quiche and a weekly special. In the past month, they’ve spiced up their menu and added some kid-friendly options. For breakfast, you can expect to pay $6-$8 for adults and $4-$5 for kids. Dinner ranges from $8-$10 per adult and $5.99 for kids. Meridian aims to provide competitive prices to restaurants, as well as high-quality, good-sized portions in a family-style setting, says Wright. “[The kids] make messes, but that’s what it’s meant to be,” he says.
Siobhan Cavens lives a block away and has frequented Meridian with her husband and two children since it opened. Last Saturday the whole family came out for the market breakfast. “I’m not going to nickel and dime it here like I would other places,” said Cavens. Admittedly, she says she shops there more often in the summertime when the weather’s nice. Right now, she mostly shops at Whole Foods. “After work, it’s dark, you get home and don’t want to go out,” she said.
Dave and Peppe Enfield run the gamut of weekly market events. They’re always sure to hit up breakfast on the weekends, Wednesday wine tastings and to stop by Monday and Thursday to pick up to-go dinners. “We don’t typically shop in the neighborhood as a society,” says Peppe. “It’s been a lot of fun getting to know people.”
Wright says that he and his co-workers are optimistic, but at the same time realistic. “It’s been a dramatic drop off,” he said. “I don’t know what to expect.”
Want More Info?
- Located at 2201 N 56th St
- Website’s up, but still undergoing some repairs: www.meridianmarket.com
- Store hours: Mon-Thurs, 6am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 6am-10pm; Sun, 7am-9pm
- Mon- comfort food special, 5-8pm; Wed (every other)- wine tastings, 6pm-9pm; Thurs- made-to-order pasta, 5-8pm; Sat- breakfast, 9am-noon
- Upcoming Valentine’s Day wine tasting on 2/10. Just $5 for five tastes!
- To receive e-mails about upcoming events and new products, shoot an e-mail request to Wally directly: [email protected]