KENT, Wash. - When you think about Kent businesses nowadays, you may think of Blue Origin or the Amazon Fulfillment Center. But many years ago, agriculture and farming are what Kent was known for.
In this day and age when the business climate is always changing, one store has remained a constant for people in the area for generations.
Was there ever that store where people knew your name? Or what about when you were a teenager, the place that you ran to for lunch. Or, what about that that place for that quick cup of coffee before work?
Well, for generation after generation people have come to Foss Grocery & Deli for their needs.
“It's a great neighborhood, I wouldn't want to have a business anywhere else," owner Sonia Foss said.
Sonia is the third generation of Foss' to run the store.
“It’s been good to us, it really has. That's why we stay,” she said.
The store was originally purchased by Sonia's Norwegian grandparents, Aage ( pronounced Augie) Foss, and his wife Willhemina. Back then, it was called Foss' Grocery and Feed store back in 1927. Sonia's father, Arthur took over in 1966, and ran it until Sonia bought it in 1995. And she's been running it ever since.
The area has changed quite a lot, said Foss. Where Kentwood High School is now used to be a dairy farm. A strip mall across the street from Foss’ Grocery Story was a horse racing training facility.
“We still cater to the neighborhood and count our lucky stars that we survived,” said Sonia.
And while it's primarily a store, it's almost like its own history museum, too. Inside is the store's first phone, an old coffee grinder that helped make coffee for the miners and loggers in the area, and several newspaper clippings.
The Foss family has survived economic depressions, recessions, booms, busts and growth as well.
During the rough years, it was about helping others.
“So grandpa just loaned everybody money that he could. And he took their checks and had them promise to pay because they were the type of people that saved every penny,” said Sonia.
Now, it’s about embracing the faster change of pace of the current age and not going against it.
Throughout Sonia’s time as owner, they’ve Installed a deli and a mini-pizzaria to cater to the lunch rush.
“When i just need a few items, we run into your store. When you have 20-thousand people doing that, it supports you,” said Sonia.
The other thing that helps Foss' last nearly a hundred years is also knowing that the relationships built now will last for generations in the future.
“I can come back here 10 years from now and still have family,” said Jim Malama of Kent.
Sonia’s son Jason will run the store once Sonia retires. Sonia’s niece will also work in the store too, she said.