Stephanie and Jared Vincench were living in Seattle with their two children when they decided they needed a change. The slower pace of the peninsula was appealing–plus the easy access to nature and the comfort of community. So when they saw the local market was up for sale, they decided not to pass on the opportunity.
In addition to grocery store staples–think veggies and bread–V’s Coastal Market carries unique options like keto-friendly treats, locally-grown berries, and specialty wines. As well as a variety of homemade meals and goodies, available fresh and ready to enjoy.
We asked Stephanie about their decision to buy the market and how they made it their own. Here’s what she had to say:
Why did you choose to start a business in Pacific County?
So we used to come here on vacation. Even before we had kids, we’d come down in the wintertime and storm watch and wander around the sleepy town. We really liked it.
We’d been living in Seattle–myself, my husband Jared, and our two kids–and everything was becoming less accessible and more hectic. We needed a change of pace. And what better place than a nice, small community? It’s safe, and the kids enjoy being close to nature.
So we quit our jobs, bought the building, and took a leap.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The market was already here. It opened around 2011, originally as a fruit stand.
It had changed ownership a couple of times over the years and when we visited in early 2021 we saw the building was for sale. The idea sparked in my mind to run a deli in the market. In the time we’d been visiting we always felt there was a need for a neighborhood grocery store with a deli.
This isn’t a business we’d done before. But I do have a background in food service: I went to culinary school and have worked in restaurants my whole career. While in school on the east coast I worked at a grocery store deli, which was fun. And it taught me about cross-utilization. Like, if oranges aren’t selling, make a citrus salad. That’s something we try to apply here, as well.
I was also a financial controller for restaurants for nine years, up until we moved here. So we’re familiar with the back end of the business: Ordering, vendor relations, payroll, getting licensed, etc. All the back and forth of business planning.
When we got into the market, it was empty. We built our inventory from the ground up and opened in November 2021.
What products or services do you offer?
We’re a full-service deli and market.
On the deli side, we have meats and cheeses sold by weight and fresh deli sandwiches. We also do panini specials, salads, and soups on rotation. All homemade.
We also try to have vegetarian/vegan options available in our deli. If they’re not vegan, I like to be transparent about it. So if there’s cream or meat in a soup, it’s in the title.
On the market side, we have dairy and produce–locally sourced when possible. This summer we had berries from Glory B Farms, which was great! We’re hoping this will be an ongoing relationship.
We’re also adding more unique items to our inventory like gluten-free items, keto-friendly snacks, and specialty beers and wines.
Between everyday groceries and specialty items, I’d like to close the gap so that people don’t have to travel all the way to Astoria to find what they need.
What was your mission when you started your business?
We’d like to offer the basics that people need, and then expand on them. So we’re constantly evolving.
The good thing about opening in the winter was that we got to open for the locals first and find out what they responded to. So we got to see if people got excited about gluten-free items or vegan chicken patties or things like that.
It’s nice to know what the people who live here would like to see in our store. Because they’re the ones who keep us in business. A two-month tourist season isn’t going to sustain us year-round. We might do really well in those busy months, but at the same time we want to be able to feed our people and be a reliable, consistent business for them.
How do you define success?
Becoming a space where people feel welcome.
We may not be able to please everybody, but we’re still going to give you a smile and make you feel welcome.
So even if you get a sandwich and you don’t like it, maybe you’ll come back for a smile and a Snickers bar.
How do you view your role in the community?
It’s a great little community, and people really look out for each other. So we’ve asked ourselves, How can we be a part of that? We don’t have a lot of time or capital to donate, but we try to get involved as much as we can with our business.
So we’ve been looking to partner with local charities. We’ve worked with Peace of Mind Pacific County, which pushes for mental health awareness. For one of their fundraisers, we donated a dollar for every deli cookie we sold. It was very successful so I decided I wanted to do different promotions more regularly.
So for September–back-to-school month–we partnered with a local charity called Food for Kids. We facilitated donations and offered discounts for any food going toward the cause. And for one week we donated $0.50 for each deli cookie sold to Food for Kids.
We’ve also been nicknamed “the hub.” Because people will come in for a gallon of milk then run into someone they know and strike up a conversation. Where I’m from in Virginia that’s how it is: You just talk to people everywhere you go. This is what we were envisioning when we opened. So I love being a part of a place like this, where people like to interact.
And by getting to know people you get to know their needs. If someone comes in once a week and always gets the same thing, we’re going to remember it. It feels like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood to me.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone starting a business in Pacific County, what would it be?
Stay diligent, stay on it, and stay on your people. I don’t like to be a nag, but sometimes you have to be. It’s not that you won’t have people on your side or that nobody’s fending for you–it’s just that so much gets lost in the shuffle. So if you’re not hearing from somebody, follow up and ask if there’s something they’re waiting for from you. Ask questions. That usually prompts a response.
It’s all humans behind everything, including computers.
You should also know that if you’re buying an existing business, nothing transfers. In Washington, everything has to be from scratch. So don’t think it’s going to magically happen because you have money. It’s all a process and you have to stay on top of it. This is the time that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and you’ve got to stay squeaky.
You’re not being a pest. You’re not being a pain. You’re starting a business. You’re making a huge life change, so you have to be your own advocate. Don’t just sit back and wait, because it’s not going to happen.
But be professional about it. That’s huge. Opening a small business is extremely personal, but you have to put on that business crown and keep the professionalism.
For any aspiring business owner in Pacific County, here are a few key takeaways from Stephanie’s experience:
- Draw on your experience and try something new.
- Take advantage of tourist season, but be consistent for year-round residents.
- Get creative in your community. You don’t have to spend time or money to get involved.
- Cross-utilize what you have: Don’t let anything go to waste and come up with something new.
- Be your own advocate. Be persistent, and professional.