Natural Grocers opens in Hazel Dell

Organic food chain looks for areas predisposed toward a healthy lifestyle

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter



Natural Grocers

What: An organic food seller that will host a grand opening Tuesday for its first Clark County store, carrying produce, meats, groceries and vitamins in Hazel Dell.

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 7604 N.E. Fifth Ave., Vancouver.

Employees: 25, including a store nutritionist to advise shoppers.


Lakewood, Colo.-based organic grocer Natural Grocers will hold a grand opening Tuesday for its first Clark County market, as it brings its no-frills concept to formerly vacant space in a Hazel Dell shopping center.

The store at 7604 N.E. Fifth Avenue carries vitamin supplements, specialty groceries, all-organic produce, and meats raised without antibiotics, growth promoters or feed containing animal byproducts, said Kemper Isely, president of the company that was started in 1955 as a door-to-door vitamin business by his parents, Margaret and Phillip Isely. The business gradually grew, as the bulk natural foods and vitamin supplements offered by the Iselys caught on.

The company, called Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, is publicly traded now and operates about 110 stores in 14 states west of the Mississippi. Isely said store prices are kept low because Natural Grocers’ store model doesn’t have labor-intensive departments such as deli counters and bakeries. The company also gets a volume discount when buying organics for its large chain. Isely said store prices are generally between 10 and 15 percent lower than Whole Foods and other organic food sellers.

Natural Grocers’ new 12,000-square-foot Hazel Dell store is in the center of a five-mile area where households earn an average income of $66,624 annually, according to statistics by SitesUSA. It is between three and 13 miles away from organic grocers that already operate in Clark County, such as New Seasons Market, Whole Foods Market, and Chuck’s Produce and Street Market.

The company also searches for store sites near an educated demographic, Isely said.

“That’s one of the real keys you look for,” he said. “An area that seems to have a predisposition toward living a healthy lifestyle. Vancouver fits that mold pretty well.”

The new store takes up space formerly occupied by Hollywood Video in Hazel Dell Square, anchored by LA Fitness, Buffalo Wild Wings and Patti’s Hallmark Shop, along with other stores. The center was completely redeveloped in 2006.