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Oct. 26, 2021

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East Vancouver Whole Foods to close in August

Employees at only Whole Foods in Clark County notified of closure Thursday night

By , Columbian business reporter
6 Photos
The Whole Foods Market in the Mill Plain Plaza shopping center is slated to close in mid-August, employees told customers on Friday. It’s the only Whole Foods location in Clark County.
The Whole Foods Market in the Mill Plain Plaza shopping center is slated to close in mid-August, employees told customers on Friday. It’s the only Whole Foods location in Clark County. Anthony Macuk/The Columbian Photo Gallery

Vancouver’s only Whole Foods Market will close its doors in about two months. Employees told customers on Friday that the Whole Foods near 164th Ave and Mill Plain Blvd will shut down on or around Aug. 18, and will not be moving to a new location.

A store manager referred questions to the company’s media team, which later confirmed the closure in an email to the Columbian.

“We have decided not to renew the lease of our Mill Plain store,” the company said in a statement. “The decision to close the store is not a reflection of the tremendous work of our dedicated Team Members or our commitment to the community. We’ll continue to serve our Vancouver customers through our surrounding Whole Foods Market locations, which provide a more modern shopping experience. Our goal is to place all of our Mill Plain Team Members in those stores.”

Anonymous tipsters who contacted The Columbian said employees at the store were notified of the closure at a meeting Thursday night. They said employees were told that Whole Foods has been seeking an alternate location for the Vancouver store but so far has been unable to secure one. Low customer traffic and rising rent costs were mentioned as contributing factors to the closure, as well as the upcoming end to the company’s current lease.

According to Clark County property records, the store building is owned by Tom Moyer Theaters, better known as TMT Development, a Portland company that owns several prominent buildings and properties including the Fox Tower and the recently built Park Avenue West tower in downtown Portland.

Most of the company’s properties are in Portland or elsewhere in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, according to a list on its website, but it does own two Washington properties: the Mill Plain Plaza shopping center where the Whole Foods is and the Orchards Plaza shopping center on Northeast 117th Avenue.

Reached Thursday afternoon, a TMT spokesperson said the company had no comment.

Word of the closure was posted on the Vancouver board of the website Reddit on Friday afternoon, and several commenters expressed disappointment about the news.

Whole Foods has a strong presence in the Portland metro area, with four stores in Portland itself and four more in various suburban cities to the south and west, but the 815 S.E. 160th Ave. location in Vancouver is the only Whole Foods in Clark County, and the only Whole Foods east of Interstate 205 in the metro area.

The location was formerly a Wild Oats Marketplace, but was rebranded after Whole Foods bought the Wild Oats parent company in 2007. The Federal Trade Commission raised antitrust concerns about the corporate acquisition and eventually won the case on appeal, overturning federal approval for the merger.

Whole Foods reached a deal with the agency in 2009 to sell off the Wild Oats brand name and 32 of its former stores, but the Mill Plain location was among the stores that remained with Whole Foods.

The original Whole Foods Market was founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, formed by the merger of two previous independent grocery stores. The company began expanding just a few years later, and its growth was fueled by a series of acquisitions of other natural grocery store brands.

The company now operates approximately 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, employing roughly 95,000 people. The company is still headquartered in Austin, and was acquired by Amazon in 2017 for $13.7 billion.

Columbian business reporter