Goose Community Grocer employee Kayla Leganza takes inventory of frozen food Monday. The Langley store is forced to dump its entire refrigerated and frozen inventory after the main cooling system failed over the weekend. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Goose Community Grocer employee Kayla Leganza takes inventory of frozen food Monday. The Langley store is forced to dump its entire refrigerated and frozen inventory after the main cooling system failed over the weekend. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Meltdown at Goose Community Grocer

‘Heartbreaking’ loss of ruined food from ‘fridge failure

Bacon, eggs, ice cream, yogurt, fish, sandwiches, sausage, tofu, everything and anything that required cool or frozen storage at The Goose Community Grocer in Bayview is turning into a tower of trash.

“We lost it all,” store director Aaron Landau said Monday. “The compressors went bad sometime around 6 a.m. Saturday.”

The cooling equipment malfunction affected almost the entire inventory of refrigerated and frozen foods at the store. Only butter and a few specialty cheeses were spared because they are cooled by a separate system.

“Anything that’s refrigerated, we’re not risking anything for anyone,” Landau said. “We cannot sell anything that needs refrigeration.”

Yellow hazard ribbon wound around entire aisles and kept glass doors in frozen food sections from being opened.

From frozen food aisles and refrigerated cases, employees hauled away grocery cart load after cart load. All items had to be individually counted for insurance claim purposes. A complete inventory is needed before an estimation of loss can be made, Landau said.

Food can’t be donated, either.

“We really regret we can’t donate any of this food. It’s unsafe at this point,” said employee Kayla Leganza as she loaded up carts with slim cartoons of frozen convenience foods.

“Normally we donate almost everything we can,” Leganza said. “Before the yogurt expires, we take it to food banks. We even donate food scraps to pig farmers. It was too late to salvage. It’s heart breaking.”

The Goose, located near the intersection of Bayview Road and Highway 525, opened nine years ago. It’s owned by Goosefoot Community fund, a local nonprofit organization and managed by the Myers Group, a grocery-store management group based in Clinton.

Using profits from the grocery store and from donations, Goosefoot awarded more than $290,000 to 18 community nonprofits between September 2016 and December 2017.

“At this time I don’t know what the financial impact will be on Goosefoot’s projects and our charitable giving program,” said Sandy Whiting, Goosefoot executive director. “It depends on how long it takes to get the refrigeration units back up and running,” she said. “And it depends on whether or not our customers continue to shop at The Goose, knowing that they will need to shop elsewhere for all refrigerated items.”

The meltdown affected about half the store, estimated assistant store director Belinda Permenter, including some fresh produce that are misted and kept cooled.

Landau said the produce wasn’t sold unless it was “perfect.”

Check-out lines were scarce over the weekend and Monday, cashiers said, as many shoppers turned around and left when they learned the plight of The Goose. Beer, cider, wine, liquor and pop were spared. So were the bags of ice sold in front of the store.

“I came for milk and yogurt but where did they put everything?” a bewildered Rick Knight asked Monday afternoon as he faced a forlorn dairy section and empty deli case.

“Well, I guess I can just buy granola bars here,” Knight said. “Or maybe I’ll just go somewhere else for everything.”

Yellow hazard tape wrapped around glass freezer doors to prevent customers from grabbing food before it got counted and dumped. It can’t be donated either because of possible health risks.

Yellow hazard tape wrapped around glass freezer doors to prevent customers from grabbing food before it got counted and dumped. It can’t be donated either because of possible health risks.

Goose shopper Rick Knight wonders why the deli case is empty as he looks for milk and yogurt Monday afternoon. “Where did they put everything?” he asked.

Goose shopper Rick Knight wonders why the deli case is empty as he looks for milk and yogurt Monday afternoon. “Where did they put everything?” he asked.

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