CONCORD -- The lines in the three aisles at a Grocery Outlet market varied Thursday afternoon, sometimes three-deep, other times empty save for a single customer. They brought their groceries, and occasionally an additional bag bound for a food drive.
Then they plunked down their money, a step some didn't have to take on Tuesday.
"It broke my heart not to be here," said Josh Bream, 31, a Concord schoolteacher said, with a laugh. "I didn't get to reap the rewards."
The "rewards" were a free load of groceries, courtesy of a mystery man who showed up at the market at 1840 Willow Pass Road. Alas, that didn't happen Thursday.
"Tuesday afternoon around 4 p.m., this man just comes on up to the register and says, 'I'm gonna buy groceries for people,'" store supervisor Jamie Flores said.
And that's what he did. The mystery man, in his late 20s or early 30s, spent approximately $600 for about a half-dozen customers that went through the line. She said she knew more about him than the public did but didn't want to reveal too much, a small tip of the cap to the man's privacy in light of what he did.
His timing was pretty interesting, too.
"It's crazy, because it's right in the middle of our food drive," Flores said. "It's called Independence From Hunger. The customers can buy a bag and we put it into the bin and it goes out to families."
A year ago, the food drive raised more than $300,000 nationally.
"He contributed to that too," Flores said.
Nobody seems to know whether the mystery man's appearance is a one-time-only appearance, or if he has plans for the same store or similar ones. But even once seemed more than enough to those who experienced it, Flores said.
"It was just such an incredible, random act of kindness," she said. "It really gets you thinking, 'Can I do more?' People talk about it. He did it."
Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rderh.