So I was driving from an oil change and did a double take when I noticed the Rainbow on White Bear Avenue in Maplewood was still open. There was an ‘outlet’ sign tacked on the windows. My immediate reaction: confusion. What is an outlet grocery store? Do they send all the bruised bananas to this location?
Only 24 hours after my original drive by, I found myself back on White Bear Avenue due to my curiosity about what was inside. Here’s what I found, along with a theory as to why this Rainbow is still open.
The store is more depressing than anything. The bank which once greeted shoppers at the entrance has a faux wall in front of it with a display of toilet paper. The bulk nuts section is gone, too; in it’s place, a wall stocked with paper towels. The coolers in the meat department are well stocked with Super Chill soda. The bakery looked like a scene from The Walking Dead with no hours posted on the sign still on the wall. They didn’t bother to rip it down.
I did find a couple deals, but nothing to qualify it as an outlet. Bananas are $.57/pound, so nothing outrageous. There were some non-perishables on sale, but it wasn’t anything worth a drive out of the way. There is an elaborate dollar section with plenty of knock-off brand items. It’s bigger than the entire produce section.
It’s quiet. Beyond the registers, I saw maybe one other employee in the entire store. The bakery lights were off. The deli looked like it still functions, but I didn’t see anyone working back there. There were maybe 10 shoppers in the store.
The aisles are huge. It was obvious they don’t want a ton of merchandise in the store, so they just took out shelves. However, I did find it as a refreshing change from visits to Aldi and Target that have carts and people everywhere.
The Outlet doubles manufacturer’s coupons on Thursdays (a Rainbow tradition) if you’re an avid coupon cutter.
The Rainbow ‘Outlet’ is open from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. seven days a week. Set your GPS if you’re curious, too: 2501 White Bear Avenue North, Maplewood 55109.
Is there a reason to go there? Um…no. Damn my curiosity.
But here’s the interesting part. Recall back to when many Rainbows were purchased by Supervalu and turned into Cub Foods. Well, there’s a Cub literally across the street. When I posted my adventure on Facebook, a friend mentioned that Supervalu didn’t close the Rainbow in fear of Hy-Vee buying it and in turn, running Cub to the ground. Supervalu would rather operate the Rainbow at a loss than to lose the Cub in a high traffic area.