Bremerton’s FreshLocal Celebrates Its First Anniversary Next Week

FreshLocal's Jean Schanen

[Note: The date of the anniversary party was initially incorrect. It has been corrected.]

Operating a grocery store for the past year has been a learning experience, said FreshLocal‘s Jean Schanen.

When the store opened in downtown Bremerton last November, it focused on Kitsap-grown produce, organic bulk products and soup made from scratch.

A year later, Kitsap-grown produce can still be found in bins at the back of the store, but so too can some produce from other Pacific Northwest farms.

They also carry more prepared products, such as locally made salsas and nuts as well as other sauces and boxed pastas.

“We’ve expanded our stock tremendously,” Schanen said.

They’ve included some requests from customers and from the growing number of connections Schanen has made in the local food community.

Though the store originally offered a few non-food items, they’re focusing on now on food.

Soon, they’ll add more meat. They’ll bring in another freezer next week to hold a shipment of lamb from the Willamette Valley. They currently also offer beef from Chimacum and pork raised in Kitsap.

The soup, two kinds each day, also still is there, cooked in the commercial kitchen across the street.

Schanen makes them herself, drawing from her experience running “Beautiful Soup” in the early ’90s. She took organic vegetables from her Wisconsin farm and made hundreds of kinds soups.

And FreshLocal plans to stay in Bremerton.

“Many people think we’re crazy for being downtown,” Schanen said. But there’s a need, she said, shown by the several hundred people who’ve supported the store.

She hopes to continue building relationships with local growers and food makers.

“We’re really excited that we’re supporting 30 other small, independent local businesses,” and keeping consumers’ dollars in the community, she said.

Going into a new year, FreshLocal will look at expanding hours, possibly staying open later to catch ferry commuters and opening on Mondays.

Schanen hopes to encourage and find more urban farmers.

They also plan to try out offering carryout meals. They’ll start with a couple types for lunches, but Schanen would like to take a note from the Eat Local company in Seattle and offer frozen, take-home dinners. Schanen said she’s been experimenting with a baked mac-and-cheese recipe that uses Beecher’s cheese.

This Next week, they’re preparing to celebrate their first anniversary. FreshLocal will host a party starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19. Local producers will be there as will folk musicians Hank and Claire.