Best of the Beach 2022: Grocery Store (Independent)
Best grocery store (independent)
Once upon a not-so-distant time, Grow South Bay was the little shop that could. The store packed a lot into its humble 2100 sq. ft. confines on Sepulveda in Manhattan Beach, with an emphasis and extraordinarily fresh fruit and produce and, for lack of a less hip word, a carefully curated selection of truly top-shelf groceries, the very best of the best of everything from cheeses to meats to cereals. The idea animating Grow and its founders, Kathy and Barry Fisher, was not to be the biggest but to really seek out the most exceptional foods available.
Grow turned 15 last September, and while much has changed, its mission has stayed the same. In fact, the Grow doubled down, literally and figuratively — the shop has doubled in size and expanded to another store in DTLA, while forging relationships with some of the most extraordinary fruit growers in the region.
Take, for example, Blossom Bluff Orchard, a three-generation family farm on the King River in Central California that grows 100 varieties of stone fruit on 78 acres. Their fruit is revered in farmers markets in San Francisco but rarely offered in any stores. Barry Fisher had to court the family until finally four years ago they agreed to sell to Grow.
“He has this incredible stone fruit and every week he has certain rows coming off…white peach, yellow peach, yellow nectarines, white nectarines, different varieties of plums, apricots, plucots,” Fisher said. “And so he has this whole basket you can offer every week. I am so impressed with the way he picks his fruit and packs his fruit, and we are the only store in Los Angeles he supplies to.”
Grow began because of stone fruit. The Fishers young son Brendan wanted money for a boogie board, and Barry worked in the agricultural export business. So Brendan ran a sidewalk stand selling cherries that was so popular that the Fishers decided to start a storefront. This was in 2006. Today, Grow retains the heart of that fruit stand while fighting giants — all the large stores that have appeared within a few miles of their humble shop. Grow has adapted, now offering prepared meals, delivery, and a wider range of products, but what sets the store apart remains a devotion to quality.
“We can differentiate ourselves from our competition by the quality of our products and quality of our customer service,” Fisher said. “Us trying to compete on different types of potato chips — It’s never going to happen.”
He is reminded of an experience shopping with his grandmother in which she kept her focus on the parts of the store that sold fresh goods.
“My grandmother says she only shops the walls at a grocery store,” Fisher said. “And you think about an old grocery store. It was the produce department, it was the dairy, it was the meat, it was the fish. And I kind of love it that Grow is basically the walls of that grocery store…It’s all the healthiest things, the right items your family needs, and it’s all high quality products.”
1830 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
3127 Manhattan Blvd.