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Hillsdale And Bridgeport Wild Oats Stores To Close

Whole Foods Markets shook up the natural foods industry this summer with its acquisition of chief rival Wild Oats.  In Portland the takeover meant 7 businesses changed hands and names.

A little over a month ago Whole Foods decided it would be closing two of those stores.  As Andrew Theen reports, the closure of the Hillsdale store this weekend is already having ripple effects.

Wild OatsMike Roach rattles off his neighbors at the Hillsdale Shopping Center with ease.  From Lynch's to Nature's to Wild Oat's Market, for 32 years Roach's Paloma Clothing could always bank on foot traffic from a nearby grocery story.

That all changes on Saturday.  Roach says by closing Hillsdale's primary food store, Whole Foods is operating counter to their community centric mission statement.

Mike Roach: "They know exactly what kind of a problem they've dumped on us, and they appear to not care."

Roach is fired up.  Wild Oats had a lease through 2010.  He and other business owners knew at that point the grocery was most likely gone.  Parking is scarce, and the building was too small to house a specialty foods store on the scale of Whole Foods.

Roach and Baker & Spice Co-Owner Julie Richardson laugh and say at least parking is no longer an issue.  But they both wish the community had more time to find a replacement.

Mike Roach: "As a community we would've been spending the years prior to 2010 starting around now to really start to strategize about what kind of replacement full service grocery store we'd like to see there.  But they stole that time away from us."

Andrew Theen: "Instead of two years you had?"

Mike Roach: "45 days.  Count them."

Julie Richardson:  "45 days, that's hard to fill."

Roach and Richardson are also concerned about how the vacancy affects a nearby assisted living center slated to open in December.  They say having a grocery store within walking distance was a huge selling point for the 51 unit building.

Ron Megahan is the president of Whole Foods Market's Northwest Region.  He said Whole Foods received some complaints about the store closure but also some appreciative responses.

He said he received no complaints about how the closure might affect the new development.

Ron Megahan: "Any store closure isn't one that's taken lightly and I hope people can appreciate the fact that we did a tremendous amount of diligence around the different opportunities with the desire of keeping the store open it just wasn't feasible at this point to do that."

One possible tenant  for the the empty store is Food Front Cooperative Grocery.  General manager Nancy Jarvis said they are investigating how occupying the Hillsdale building would affect their business.

The Hillsdale Wild Oats Market goes dark this Saturday at 5.

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