MISSOULA — We got a sneak peek inside of Missoula's newest grocery store on Friday as WinCo prepares to open next week.
The old Shopko location on South Reserve Street is now home to a new store -- WinCo Foods, which is an employee-owned grocery store that's almost ready to serve Missoula.
"I just can't wait for the store to open,” employee Brad Nagel said.
The shelves are stocked, and the employees are trained.
"Everybody that we've talked to is super excited that we're coming to town,” observed store manager Shawn Early.
Early noted that they have hired about 140 employees, mostly from Missoula and other parts of Montana.
"I've been with the company myself 30 years, and there's a reason why. They take care of the employees very well,” Early said.
The employees get stock ownership of WinCo.
"I saw the opportunity, and I took it. It's an exciting chance for me, said Nagel who worked at a different grocery store in town.
"I've been grocery last six years, but my background is produce and this is the perfect opportunity for me to try to get back into it,” Nagel told MTN News.
He noted that with the COVID-19 pandemic, the hiring process was all remote, “it was different."
The cashiers are ready to go with masks and shields, but you do have to bag your own groceries at WinCo.
"It's exciting. It's going to change the way retail works in this state,” Nagel said.
The WinCo grand opening is set for Monday at 9 a.m.
Early -- who came over from a WinCo in Washington -- noted that the company took advantage of closed Shopko's across the country.