Tag Archives: Americana

Bowling Lanes Turned Checkout Lanes At This Grocery Store

Bowling Shoes Not Required

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A special thank you to Erin and Jeff McNeil, owners of this Grocery Outlet location, for assisting UndiscoveredWanderings with this article. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and are pleased to share our experience with our readership.

A few weeks ago, we did a piece on a retro-themed grocery store in Seattle’s Skyway suburb. Just when you finally wrapped your mind around the concept of a grocery store that’s also a tourist destination, we’ve got another one for you, except it didn’t start out as a store. It was once a bowling alley.



The same owners of the Skyway Grocery Outlet location actually started their first store here in Renton, WA–just outside of Seattle–in 2010 (the Skyway one in 2013). A bustling bowling alley for 40 years, when the McNeils moved in and turned it into a Grocery Outlet, they knew they had to keep the local heritage alive, so they built their store around the bowling alley. They even asked the demo crew to leave the old bowling lanes intact, which are now part of the checkout lanes.

As Erin explained to us, a number of local artists have done work here to keep Seattle’s heritage alive. Many of the old trophies and bowling memorabilia that dot the store’s landscape were donated by locals who had lots of memories and stories to tell.

There’s a lot of Seattle heritage here, for sure. “We try to promote local”, she told us. It’s a source of pride in the community. 

LINKS
Learn more about the owners
Visit the Skyway location


We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. We’ll always publish under your name. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

You’ve Arrived at Seattle’s Most Retro Grocery Store

Of Course We Found This in Seattle!

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A special “thank you” to Erin and Jeff McNeil, owners of this Grocery Outlet location, for helping UndiscoveredWanderings with this article. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and are pleased to share our experience with our readership.

When was the last time you thought of a grocery store as a tourist destination? When was the last time you were in Seattle? If there’s any city in America with offbeat grocery stores, why wouldn’t it be here? We were encouraged to visit this particular store by our Airbnb hosts during our visit last year. “It’s a grocery store with lots of cool iconic stuff in it”, we were told.



Our curiosity drew us to the road…

And so we ventured to Grocery Outlet—specifically, the Grocery Outlet of Skyway, Washington, just outside Seattle. It’s one of two stores independently owned and operated by Erin and Jeff McNeil. The McNeils, who’ve been in the grocery business for most of their lives, had a goal: to make their stores not only a place to shop, but also a destination. See why they got UndiscoveredWanderings’s attention? But how does one make a grocery store, of all things, stand out when there’s so many in every neighborhood?

One Word: Retro

It started years ago, when the building located at 68th Avenue South was just another neighborhood grocery store under a different name and ownership. Skyway was a bustling hub, a haven for musicians–including a young, up-and-coming Ray Charles—and intellectuals alike. It had the Route 66 vibe back then, Erin explained to us. The store eventually closed down and the building sat abandoned for a number of years.

But in 2013, the McNeils opened up this, their second store, under the Grocery Outlet chain. Yet they wanted more than just a place to buy groceries. They wanted a place, Erin recounted, that would be talked about and make the community proud. It was their goal to attract shoppers from throughout the Seattle area. With the neighborhood’s rich history in mind, they stuck to Skyway’s retro roots. It’s been a labor of love ever since…and it’s paying off.

The McNeils put as many retro-themed items in their store as possible. They sourced from places in Washington, Oregon, and even Canada to acquire the most offbeat and nostalgic items, including a life size Clark Kent in a phone booth, readying his Superman costume. There’s plenty of local history here, too, like old lockers from the local fire department (see gallery below). All of these items adorn shelves, floor space, and ceiling tiles as you casually make your way through the isles. The aura of the store definitely channels that back-in-time Route 66 feeling.



By the way, Erin and Jeff sourced all of these items within three months prior to Grocery Outlet–Skyway’s grand opening. Not bad. And their primary means for finding all this cool stuff? Craigslist.

Four years later, the McNeils are pleased with the store’s progress; Erin described things as being in a “good rhythm”. Not only has the community flocked to Skyway’s Grocery Outlet, their clientele continues to expand to include regular shoppers from all over the Seattle area. And of course, there’s the out-of-town visitors like us.

This is truly an Undiscovered Wandering, a title we reserve for the most offbeat places we visit. Oh–we mentioned that this place is one of two stores. Yup, there’s another one out there, which was built into an old bowling alley. Read about it here.


We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. We’ll always publish under your name. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

Weirs Beach, New Hampshire: Retro Americana

Escape Reality in Style

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This summer, forget the big beaches on the coasts. It’s the hidden gems, tucked away in the wilds and behind the forests, that really count. Enter Weirs Beach.

We visited Weirs Beach, right on Lake Winnipesaukee in Laconia, NH, back in October. Even though it wasn’t prime swimming season, we really felt like we journeyed to a magical place. Weirs Beach comes with a retro arcade–no really, an actual arcade–right on the boardwalk, which was next to the train station, which was right across the street from the Victorian houses, which overlooked the spectacular lake, which had really ginormous houses on it, which you could see from the amazing boat tours, which…well, you get the point.



By the way, those cool Victorian houses we mentioned above, you can rent those, plus there’s plenty of other places to stay, including the Half Moon Motel and Cottages, which we’re happy to recommend. We enjoyed our time there. A nice slice of New England.

This is one of those articles where pictures say more than words. If you’re looking for a place off the beaten path to spend your summer, if you don’t want to contend with the major beach resort cities where you can’t even hear yourself think…if you’re looking for a little slice of Americana with a retro feel in a small lake town in New England…then Weirs Beach is for you!

We know we’ll be back.

OK, now pictures.

Lake Winnipesaukee is beautiful. Don’t believe us? Check out the time-lapse video we took while out boating

Then there’s the famous Vegas-like “Weirs Beach” sign, complete with a light show. We got a video.

Weirs Beach official website

Dine in Style with Courtyard Seats, Only at Nini’s

Your Own Restaurant in a California Garden

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We spent a lot of time in California this summer, sometimes just taking in the surf. But as we cruised through the Bay Area, we had to stop at Nini’s Coffee Shop in San Mateo, our second time here. San Mateo has already proven to be a neat place, especially with our stop at a vintage record store.

So what makes this corner diner a real dish? It’s Nini’s!! Everyone knows that. The inside courtyard and all its out-of-place-yet-good-fit-for-this-place decorations always entertain. From street signs to statues, a fire hydrant and even a Texaco fuel pump (we’ve seen those before), you could say that Nini’s doubles as an unofficial museum. Never a dull moment.

And the food is fantastic! It’s a great place to unwind and take in the nice California breeze. Nini’s has been around forever, and judging by how busy it always is when we visit, it’s not going anywhere.

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Nini’s Official Facebook page

A record Store in California. We Found One.

Not That There Aren’t Others…

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…But this one is pretty cool. Records stores seem to be a thing of the past, but since the music scene is always changing, evolving, revolving, and so on, we found a place that’s found a way to make it work in the 21st century. We like to look out for our music peeps, so if you’re in San Mateo, CA, check out Vinyl Solution. Plenty of new and used stuff, and lots of old school mementos for all us nostalgic types out. Friendly people inside.