Building a successful business from the ground up

July 5, 2024

Bridgette Jarrett never envisioned that she would someday own her own business, but that’s what ultimately brought her to Rehoboth Beach. She was born and raised in Cambridge, Md., later moved to Hurlock with her family, and graduated from N. Dorchester High in 1996. Bridgette thought she wanted to be a nurse, and while attending nursing school, she started working at Food Lion to help pay the bills. Because of her people skills, she quickly went from the customer service manager to store manager. At that point, Bridgette decided to pursue a career in the retail world instead of nursing. After seven years at Food Lion, she took a position with Walmart and again worked her way up to store manager before leaving to try something new.

With the population growth on the Eastern Shore, Bridgette thought real estate might be a great place to develop a career. She soon recognized it would take some time for her to be self-sufficient selling real estate, so she thought about working a second job. She came across a job being advertised for store manager at the Grocery Outlet in Glen Burnie. She was invited to interview for the position, and it was there she learned about the possibility of ownership in the store. She didn’t realize at the time that was the business model for Grocery Outlet stores. She was intrigued by the idea because she had otherwise never imagined she could own her own business.

Bridgette eagerly accepted their job offer and thought she would be taking over the Millsboro store. However, she then discovered another store was going to be opening in the Rehoboth Beach area and applied for that position. In addition to being in a great location, it would also allow her to remain near her family in Cambridge. Bridgette is very close with her family, and both her son and her sister accepted positions working at the new store, which opened in April.

Opening a new store has many challenges, one of which is staffing. Until the store gets on firmer financial footing, Bridgette is not able to offer benefits to her employees. However, all 32 full- and part-time employees are eligible to earn a bonus, based upon the profitability of the store.

As with anyone who starts a new business, the working hours are significant. Bridgette gets to work at 2:30 a.m., seven days per week, and works 13 to 14 hours every day. As a brand-new grocery store owner, getting to understand the purchasing preferences of her customers and juggling inventory according to the ebbs and flows of the business has been a challenge. Bridgette says one advantage of being part of the Grocery Outlet network is that the owner community is very tight-knit and other owners are more than willing to share ideas, offer suggestions and answer any questions she might have.

Grocery stores reflect the unique buying behaviors of people who live in a particular market, and this store is no different. They stock a very significant inventory of crab meat, because that’s what customers are looking for, according to Bridgette.

“I spend a lot of time in the store, engaging with customers, trying to understand what they’re here to buy, what they like or don’t like, and using their feedback to help guide inventory decisions,” she said. 

In a relatively short period of time, Bridgette has made sure to develop strong connections in the community. She makes sure that any merchandise that goes beyond its sale date is donated to local food pantries, rather than being thrown away. Bridgette also donates money to various causes, the most recent of which was $1,000 to the Young Life Program. Lastly, the store has developed a partnership with Cape Henlopen High School in which students learn how to stock, price and display merchandise. In addition, working at the store gives them the opportunity to develop important work life skills such as teamwork, critical thinking and communications.

If Bridgette could talk to her 18-year-old self, she would tell her to be more confident and listen to her instincts, rather than listening to other people tell her what she can or can’t do. As for looking out over the next three to five years, Bridgette hopes to be operating the Rehoboth store very successfully and perhaps opening up another location in the area.

Bridgette doesn’t have much free time these days, but when she does, she enjoys cooking (including making her own spaghetti sauce) and spending time with family and friends. While Bridgette would like to be doing more of those downtime activities, that will have to wait. Bridgette says, “I know that now is when my time and energy must be focused on the success of the newest Grocery Outlet store in the area.”


  • This column provides an opportunity for readers to connect with the personal side of business leaders in area communities. Many of our local business owners and CEOs are thought leaders in their community, and they can provide valuable insights and ideas on issues of common interest to all of us. Successful businesses are essential for a healthy and growing society, especially as people continue to move to this area looking for employment opportunities. This column will highlight leaders who are not only successful, but also making a difference in our communities.

    Jeffrey Fried has been an executive in the healthcare industry for over 40 years, including serving as the president/CEO of Beebe Medical Center for 24 years. After leaving Beebe Healthcare, Jeff started his own consulting and executive coaching company, and has coached executives in a variety of industries. In addition, Jeff has partnered with a company called Vistage, the oldest executive coaching company in the country, where he serves as a local chair on the Delmarva Peninsula and leads/supports a group of medium-sized business owners and CEOs. Jeff and his wife Sherry reside outside Lewes and between the two of them have three children and five grandchildren. Last but not least, they are the parents of two rescue dogs.

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