Dean and Sara Biggs moved to Northern Nevada when they purchased the Grocery Outlet location in Lemmon Valley in 2013. Four years later they opened the Spanish Springs location in 2017.
After careers built in retail, one of the reasons they wanted to own their own stores was so they could make independent decisions that would best help their local communities. In addition to stocking items in higher demand in their specific locations, they like to give back.
“When I worked for Albertson’s and Lowes, the local people had no say on who they donated to,” Dean says. “With this business model, we can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to every request. It’s up to each owner and what they want to do.”
Dean and Sara say “yes” a lot, though their primary focus is on children and the specific areas in which they have stores. That means they’re focused on Spanish Springs and the North Valleys. “By making it local, we’re more directly helping out our customers,” Dean says.
Supporting Local Causes
They support Spanish Springs Lacrosse and the Spanish Springs Basketball Association. And they recently raised money for the Valley Providence Little League after their baseball fields flooded. They hosted a fundraiser in the Lemmon Valley store that raised more than $1,000, and then they contributed $500 on top of that.
The couple supports local schools including Stead Elementary, Desert Heights Elementary, Alice Smith Elementary, Lemmon Valley Elementary, North Valleys High School, O’Brien Middle School, Van Gorder Elementary, Bud Beasley Elementary, Shaw Middle School, Sepulveda Elementary and Spanish Springs Elementary. They also have a Heroes Program that allows firefighters, military, police officers and other local heroes to receive discounts at their store.
The Biggs also give to Project 150, a local non-profit organization that helps homeless and at-risk high school kids throughout the Northern Nevada area. “The Biggs family is providing many important items for students — from hoodies and leggings to pajamas and warm shirts,” said Project 150’s lead liaison Liz McFarland. “However, the items that help the most are large reusable shopping bags. Many of our students are transient, walking or taking the bus. Being able to provide them with a new shopping bag hopefully makes them feel good about themselves and provides a sturdy bag to transport their items away from our boutique — and perhaps beyond that.”
Both Grocery Outlets sit in former Scolari’s locations, so the Biggs are also trying to cover gaps created by the absence of these two stores and their local sponsorships. They’ve been sponsoring the Reno Air Races, a North Valleys favorite for six years. And this year, all of the local Grocery Outlets are sponsoring the Reno Rodeo.
Dean and Sara — along with their four children, ages 12 to 17 — also give on a personal level to their church, schools and food banks.
"It fills our hearts to know that we can help make a difference in the Reno/Sparks area," Sara says.
Independence from Hunger
Grocery Outlets across the country will be celebrating summer with their Independence from Hunger initiative. It starts June 26 and goes through the month of July. Each owner chooses local food banks to donate to, and then they ask their customers to help with the effort.
“Everyone gives during the holidays, and food banks tend to run low in the summer, so that’s why we do it then,” Dean explains.
Local owners match a portion of the overall proceeds and then give the money to the local food banks in gift cards, so they can buy whatever they need — whether that’s groceries, water or supplies.
How You Can Help
You can contribute by visiting Grocery Outlet and participating in one of these easy steps:
- Look for specially-marked food items. These are items that each local food agency has identified as “high-need” items. Purchase these products and place them in the collection bin at the front of the store.
- Pick up a pre-made bag filled with an assortment of groceries that have been identified as needed — bags start at $5.
“And everyone who donates at least $5 will receive a voucher for $5 off a future purchase,” Dean adds.
Last year, the Biggs were able to raise more than $30,000 between their two locations, and they’re hoping to do the same again this year. Money raised will go to Desert Heights Elementary School Food Bank, Sparks Christian Fellowship and the Community Food Pantry in Sparks.