Ballard – from Crown Hill to the north to the Lake Washington Ship Canal to the south, and from Greenwood, Phinney Ridge and Fremont to the east to Shilshole Bay in the west – is going through another major growth spurt. Nancy Sullivan has been helping Ballard Market navigate the choppy waters of change since she joined the team in 1986, just a few months after it first opened.
Now that she’s officially taken the reins as market director in 2018, and there might not be anyone who understands Ballard Market’s connection to its community better than Nancy.
“Even though there’s been so much growth here lately, we still stand apart because of our amazing staff. This is like my second family,” said the mother of four. Two of her kids also work for Town & Country Markets. “We have lots of long-time customers here, but we’re seeing a lot of new faces, too. And when you care for each other like we do, it’s makes it easy to pass that feeling on to all our customers. I think that’s what keeps them coming in.”
Born and raised in Seattle, Nancy got her start in the grocery biz through Lucky Stores, but a former boss lured her to T&C. “It was big adventure to start working in Ballard. I was only supposed to fill in for a short time. Time goes fast, doesn’t it?”
Nancy also helped lead Ballard Market through a significant remodel in 2017 that added more grab-n-go options and fast check stations to help meet the needs of customers looking for a quick shopping experience. Working with Nancy to operate the market are Jenny Nichols and Dave Garcia, both market managers.
“Sometimes we hire folks who’ve worked at other stores and they get a little freaked out when they find out we don’t have official customer service rules. They worry they’re going to do something wrong! I tell them, ‘We’re a family here. You’re free to make your own decisions. Just do your best to meet the customers’ needs and don’t worry about anything else.’ We want our customers to feel at home here.”
Nancy and her husband have been married for 40 years and are die-hard pet lovers. They love to take their dog, Gadsby, out to their little family cottage on Fidalgo Island just north of Whidbey Island.