Springtime celebrates all that’s new, fresh, lush and fabulous about the year. Trees and lawns green almost before our eyes and stores get shipments of fresh fruit, veggies, locally crafted products and specialty items to tempt our winter-weary taste buds. At Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway stores, their produce department celebrates the finest flavors of spring and special culinary events pop up like daffodils on a sunny day.
A fourth-generation, family-owned business that has served Olympians since 1944, the company is proud of its commitment to hyper-local and northwest regional partners. One example is their community rebate program, which gives back to nonprofits in our area.
This spring produce Manager Nate Conat is excited to welcome several new vendors to the family. One is NW Farms, a business he calls almost post-organic. They are pesticide and herbicide-free, organic and grow greens hydroponically. The Thriftway stores currently carry their live basil, packaged salads and arugula, as well as baby romaine, chard and kale. “We get it 48 hours from harvest,” says Conat, “and it lasts almost two weeks on the shelf.”
Instead of their former Produce Happy Hour items, where specific items could be marked as low as $1 each, Thriftway stores have switched to offering Manager’s Special sales. Conat explains that Charlie’s Produce partners with Seattle’s PCC Community Markets on a list of organic weekly specials. “People here just want organic,” says Conat, so they’ve started purchasing the same list of items for both Olympia locations.
And these specials aren’t just for a specific day or time. Ralph’s and Bayview run deals Monday through Sunday. “So they’re always coming in fresh, and we don’t have to order a bunch all at once,” says Conat. Recently featured items included Ataulfo mangos, also called champagne mangos, new crop California peaches and the ripest organic honeydew, cucumbers, snap peas and kale. “Some Manager’s Special items run for a couple of weeks but most change out weekly,” says Conat.
Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway stores have always tried to showcase local and regional growers and vendors. When an existing farm decided to take a break, Conat added Valley Greens from Montesano. The stores now stock huge containers of microgreens and shipments arrive weekly. Better yet, these farmers are interested in planting new or needed items that might sell well so Conat suggested trying organic garlic. “We’ve sold fresh garlic before and in the past 20 cases would sell out in just a few weeks,” he shares.
Of course, one of the highlights of the produce calendar is the arrival of the outdoor Spooner Farms berry kiosk. Family-owned since 1882, their berries have graced tables via Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway stores for many years. But their annual sales date is a weather-based roll of the dice. “It’s a waiting game,” admits Conat. “They typically start around Father’s Day in June but it’s really up in the air. We don’t typically know until about a week before so post the arrival on our website once we do.”
Though numbers were down a little during the pandemic, berry sales have topped $130,000 worth of berries in one season alone. And while some families plan a fun outing to the Puyallup-based Spooner farm, lately high gas prices mean buying at Thriftway can definitely save you a few dollars. “Doing the little things like Manager’s Specials and berries here can really help people’s budget,” says Conat.
But nothing sets off the sweet freshness of Spooner berries quite like warm, flaky Fisher Scones. This tasty treat has been a staple of state and local fairs for more than a century. Marketing Director Ashley Paterson loves that the Scone Wagon has been coming to both Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway for the past few years. “Customers can take advantage of fresh, hot fair scones at both locations throughout the year,” she shares. “The next scone visit will be at Ralph’s Thriftway on June 26, and you can find details on our social media pages.”
If your schedule fills up quickly in the warmer, brighter weather, consider using the Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway store’s Online Shopping feature. Order whatever you need, suddenly ran out of, or are craving at the end of the day and pick up everything from avocados to Zaatar on the way home. Out of inspiration? Check out this week’s current ad for specials or find seasonal recipes through the Bayview School of Cooking or online recipe guide.
After the long, dark months of winter, when spring rolls around we’re ready for fresh, light foods that pack a flavor punch. Keep up on the latest and greatest thanks to Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway. You can shop, sign up for their newsletter, find event listings or scan the latest deals on the Thriftway website, Facebook or Instagram. Don’t miss out on berries, scones and a whole lot more.