Tag Archives: Vintage

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

Of Course We Found This in Seattle!

Click icon to view map

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.

Lakewood Heritage Center

These Buildings Are a Little Displaced (But That’s a Good Thing)

Special thanks to the Lakewood Heritage Center for their help with this article.

Click icon to view map

The Denver Metro Area is growing at a rapid pace, but it hasn’t forgotten its roots. We were pleasantly surprised, as we enjoyed a stroll through Belmar Park last summer, to find a number of old and even older buildings that were remarkably well preserved. 

Officially, we had wandered onto the grounds of the Lakewood Heritage Center, which borders the Park. Lakewood is a burgeoning suburb of Denver with its own unique history. The Heritage Center–originally known as Belmar Village when it was founded in 1976–has worked hard to preserve some of the original farm buildings built on this land in the early 20th century.



But then there are the other buildings, like the diner, that seem oddly out of place. Those came later…and they were built somewhere else. The Heritage Center, like the City of Lakewood, has grown since its inception, and now incorporates a number of artifacts, large and small, to document the history of this fascinating part of the country. 

Belmar Park also happens to be exceptionally beautiful with lots of trails and pathways. A perfect combination of outdoor fun and exploring.

You know how we love to step back through time at UndiscoveredWanderings. This one you can’t miss.

Links
Lakewood Heritage Center
City of Lakewood, Colorado
Belmar Park

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

Your Own Restaurant in a California Garden

Click icon to view map

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.

Click any photo to view slideshow

Nini’s Official Facebook page

A record Store in California. We Found One.

Not That There Aren’t Others…

Click icon to view map

…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.

Retro Dining at Mac’s Drive-In

Travel Back Through Time

Click icon to view map

Mac’s Drive-In. The name itself evokes images of a 1950s eatery where the food was delivered right to your car window. Not so common anymore, but this relic of the past strives to maintain that nostalgic service, complete with vintage music while you eat.

Founded in 1961, this gem of the Finger Lakes is well known by locals and visitors alike. Open during the warmer months of the year, Mac’s iconic roadside sign has stood the test of time and is the first thing patrons see when they flock to this historical place each summer. The later in the day it gets, the more people there are; it’s packed full almost every night. Adding to its menu of classic American eats, Mac’s is also one of a handful of places that still serves Richardson’s Root Beer. You can’t beat it. To put it simply, the root beer floats here are supreme–see video below for proof.

Adding to the retro ’50s and ’60s atmosphere, Mac’s also hosts weekly vintage car shows that are open to the public (call ahead for details). Who said time travel isn’t possible?

Interview with John Conley, Co-Owner of Mac’s

Official Site