Olympia salutes a Little General

Cozy new grocery store with military-sounding name on Fifth Avenue fills downtown need

Staff writerMay 2, 2014 

One of downtown Olympia’s new small businesses will help fill a big void.

The Little General Food Shop has opened at 313 Fifth Ave., next to Rainy Day Records. At 600 square feet, the specialty grocery store carries quality items not typically found at big-box stores.

Co-owner Kim Murillo, who is 5 feet tall, credits the store’s name to her husband, Matt, who is 6 feet 2 and lovingly calls her “Little General.” Their small business, however, is ready to fill a niche downtown — and evolve to satisfy customers’ tastes.

In the meantime, Murillo stocks what she likes. Aside from local organic fruits, vegetables and farm-raised eggs, the store stocks its shelves with harder-to-find artisan salamis, gourmet cheeses, imported Italian pastas and delicacies such as anchovies. Other inventory includes rice, beans, vinegars and oils, along with gluten-free selections. In the coming weeks, Murillo plans to add milk and beer.

Little General is collaborating with Olympia businesses such as Bearded Lady Food Co., which sells grab-n-go sandwiches for vegans and meat eaters. This week, Bearded Lady posted photos on Facebook of a favorite made-from-scratch sandwich available at Little General: sausage, scrambled egg and gouda on a gluten-free corn waffle.

Murillo’s customers can buy the Ninevah Assyrian food truck’s chips and hummus, for example, or pick up some locally brewed Magic Kombucha. If they choose, customers can munch at a lunch counter by the front window.

“I definitely want to encourage people to live and shop downtown,” said Murillo, who wants the store to become a community space in the area. “I want to get involved and at least be participating in the conversation — or listening.”

Aside from Bayview Thriftway, downtown residents have a limited number of options within walking distance for buying organic produce and higher-end foods, said Rob Richards, board member of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. The Olympia Food Co-op has shown interest in opening a downtown location, but so far that goal has not come to fruition.

“This is sort of a desert in that way,” said Richards, calling Little General an amenity for downtown residents like himself. “It’s all stuff you can’t really get downtown.”

The owners of Bearded Lady say they appreciate the partnership with Little General, calling it a mutually beneficial way to enrich local life.

“We’re kind of on the same wavelength on the quality of food we want to offer Olympia,” said Melanie Shelton, who owns Bearded Lady with her wife, Jordan Marsicek. “I love when businesses open and things happen and they all kind of come together.”

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869

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