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Creative Outlet

I'm not sure if there any of these stores in Portland proper, but each oddball outlying community like Oregon City, Gresham and Vancouver, WA, have one. I've only ever been to the Beaverton location. Ages ago, when I was still in college, I tagged along with my dad and his wife and bought peculiar edibles with food stamps. A new love was born.

In my day this haven was called Canned Food Outlet, and I've waxed nostalgic before. Canned foods are really only a minor component, they also have frozen and refrigerated goods, beauty products, toys, candy, a liquor section, and more.

I just like to browse the food aisles for brands unknown to me and general rejects. This is where bad flavors and odd combinations go to die. But they also have items that could be considered more specialty or gourmet (I hate that word, but it's easy shorthand for better than regular supermarket offerings) like things you'd find at Trader Joe's. The Hansen's mango sparkling juice I purchased on my most recent visit falls into this category (it's not even on their website, and probably for good reason'it didn't quite taste as nice as it sounded).

The KC Masterpice Dip&Top Sauce in cool ranch bbq flavor made with Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing that I also bought for shits and giggles clearly falls into the ungodly flavor combos camp. I couldn't resist. I lose all sense of decency when I set foot in the Grocery Outlet! (their exclamation point, not mine).

During my visit last week, the cashier instructed me to write my phone number (I used my mom's) on the back of my receipt and stuff it in the cardboard box displayed at the front of the store to enter a drawing for free groceries in the amount of your total. Well, I'm still waiting for my $11-and-change prize. Maybe my mom made off with my winnings and didn't tell me.

Grocery Outlet! * 3855 SW Murray Blvd., Beaverton, OR

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