Our Experts

Kelly Heinzinger

May 31, 2023  |   by Cameron Ito

Kelly Heinzinger, a highly esteemed store director and team member at Metropolitan Market, has been with the Proctor location almost since its opening in 1995. Her significant contributions to the store’s early success, leadership skills, competitive spirit, and dedication to developing and inspiring others are widely recognized. She is also well-regarded within the community, and remarkably manages to maintain a healthy work-life balance that accommodates her active personal lifestyle.

Kelly Heinzinger Procter Metropolitan Market employee in produce section

A Respect for Food

Growing up in the California countryside, Kelly fondly recalls her childhood and the role food played in her life. Her dad, a butcher, had a unique love for animals, often rescuing and caring for them. Kelly admired her father’s work as both an art form and a craft. Although her mother wasn’t directly involved in the food industry, she frequently took Kelly to grocery stores and farmers’ markets, where they selected fresh ingredients from local growers. Together with her brother, they would gather around the table, enjoying homemade meals that reflected their parents’ cooking passion. Kelly describes food as a significant source of connection and a bonding experience within their family. While she had different aspirations for her future back then, her early exposure to, and subtle interactions with, food instilled in her a deep appreciation, laying the foundation for what was to come in her later life.

Foraging for Adventure

Kelly has always been a dedicated athlete, known for her competitive nature among those who have worked with her. While she was an avid swimmer during her late teens and early 20s, her passion for cycling grew stronger. Before turning 20, she embarked on a seven-month recreational cycling trip around the world with some friends, visiting various places such as London, Portugal, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and Australia. To date, Kelly has actively participated in more than 50 races and over 30 tours. Following her travels, she visited her brother in Washington and joined him on an Alaskan fishing vessel. She fell in love with the natural beauty and exciting hiking trails of the region. This experience made her realize that Washington was where she wanted to live.

Kelly Heinzinger Procter Metropolitan Market employee at checkout

After the fishing trip, Kelly stayed with her brother for a while and enrolled in physical education courses at Seattle Central College. She had always considered pursuing this field feeding her enjoyment of working with others, teaching, and its alignment with her active lifestyle. While studying, she sought a job to support herself through college and found employment at a health club. Additionally, she managed an aerobic studio on the side with a close friend. Eventually, she was referred to Metropolitan Market, then known as Thriftway, which had two locations: Queen Anne and West Seattle. Kelly met with the founder, Terry Halverson, at the West Seattle store and immediately felt a connection with its open-market atmosphere, the people working behind the counters, and the way the merchandise was displayed. It reminded her of home. In 1989, she started her Metropolitan Market career as a part-time checker.

Kelly Heinzinger Procter Metropolitan Market employee talking with fellow employees

Creating Culture

Kelly didn’t stay a checker for long. In her first few years, she worked in various departments and roles, including the bakery, wine department, grocery, guest services, and as a trainer for new team members on the frontend. She split her time between both store locations. After 5 years, she was promoted to Assistant Store Director at Queen Anne. Her part-time job had become a career. She enjoyed the daily excitement, learning about new products, training and developing team members, sharing food with the community, and helping shape the company.

Three years later, Terry offered Kelly the position of Store Director at the Proctor location, which had been introduced to the community a year earlier. Kelly felt nervous, but Terry’s words stuck with her: “There’s not a mistake you could make that I couldn’t help you fix.” Kelly reflects on this saying, “The culture at Metropolitan Market goes beyond just finding, selling, and enjoying great food. It’s a camaraderie of passionate individuals who are curious, engaged, and dedicated to each other’s growth, like family. It’s about finding excitement in work and sharing that passion with team members, guests, and the community.”

With a one-year-old at home and a long commute from West Seattle to Tacoma, Kelly and her family decided to move closer to the store. Shortly after, she became the second woman on the Board of Directors for Thriftway and spent years volunteering with the chamber of commerce, Rotary Club, local organizations, and nearby schools. Over the past 30+ years, Kelly is proud of the relationships she has built within the community.


As the fifth most tenured team member at Metropolitan Market, Kelly still works hands-on with her team and maintains her excitement for meeting and welcoming new people to the community. “One of my favorite things is watching people come into our store for the first time and having the chance to welcome them and walk around with them, sharing what we have to offer. I believe people keep coming back to us for the relationships, service, and products.”

In her role as a leader, Kelly strives to inspire others just as she was once inspired. “It’s important to look for someone’s passion and be there to help them find it and develop it,” she says. Moreover, she feels a profound responsibility to impart the company’s culture to others. Looking back on the early stages of her career, Kelly aims to preserve and enhance what was established.

Kelly Heinzinger Procter Metropolitan Market employee with coworker

Future Leaders

When asked what it takes to do a job like hers, Kelly responds, “You need to have a bit of a competitive nature, problem-solve, have resilience, and be resourceful. But more than anything, you need to be able to inspire people, lead them, find the best in them, and nurture talents. That’s what our job is — to lead and inspire. It’s what makes a team great, and it shows up for our guests.”

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