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March 3, 2024

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‘If this is a food desert, this is your oasis’: New Seasons brings groceries back to downtown Vancouver

Upscale Portland grocer opens on Main Street, the second store in Clark County for the chain

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
5 Photos
Shoppers browse the shelves Wednesday at the grand opening of the downtown New Seasons.
Shoppers browse the shelves Wednesday at the grand opening of the downtown New Seasons. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

With much fanfare, New Seasons Market on Main Street opened to the public Wednesday, ending a decades-long food desert in Vancouver’s downtown and uptown areas.

“If this is a food desert, this is your oasis,” said Michael Butterfield, general manager for the Main Street New Seasons Market.

As the store opened Wednesday at 1506 Main St., the aisles were filled with people either shopping or checking out the new store.

Vancouver’s Mayor Pro Tem Ty Stober was among them.

“The city council has been getting lobbied hard for a downtown grocery store for the entire time I’ve been on the council,” said Stober, pointing to petitions, pleadings and previous failed attempts.

New Seasons Markets in Vancouver

Main Street

Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

1506 Main St., Vancouver

360-433-0752

Fisher's Landing

Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

2100B S.E. 164th Ave., Vancouver

360-760-5005

“But the time is right and the time is now,” said Stober. The store opening is important to him personally, too.

“I live less than 10 blocks from here,” he said, holding up his reusable shopping bags. He called being able to now walk to the grocery store transformational.

“This is a product of deliberate decisions that have been made by the Vancouver City Council for decades in order to build the density that we needed in order to get to this point,” Stober said.

Density is important for more grocery stores to move into more of Vancouver’s neighborhoods, he said.

The area’s last downtown grocery store, the Vancouver Food Center at 1118 Main St., closed in 2004.

Having grown up in Vancouver, Butterfield said he is aware of the food desert that plagued the city’s downtown area for more than 20 years.

“I hope we’re the cornerstone of revitalizing downtown Vancouver,” said Butterfield. With the population growing in the city’s uptown and downtown areas, he said, there’s a definite need for a grocery store here.

Community support

Jerri Greenen has lived in Vancouver since 2004 and currently lives in the downtown-adjacent Columbia Way neighborhood.

She’s excited to have a New Seasons closer to her home now. She only used to make the trek to the Fisher’s Landing New Seasons Market to buy her favorite kimchi. But now she may come more often.

“I just like the different variety,” she said.

Teri and Shannon Pogue moved just down Main Street from the new store a couple of years ago.

They have been able to walk nearly everywhere they need to go from the doctor’s office to church.

“Literally the only thing that was missing was this,” said Teri Pogue, adding how glad she is that New Seasons also has more of the foods she needs for her health-restricted diet.

For husband Shannon Pogue, the store’s convenience is a benefit. Now if they need something quickly, they don’t have to drive 10 minutes to get it. They can simply walk down the street.

Downtown Vancouver’s store

Butterfield said more than 90 percent of the 110 employees he hired for the new store are from Clark County.

“This is home for me,” he said.

The murals adorning some of the walls inside the building were painted by a local Clark County muralist, Racheal Jackson.

“That means a lot to us,” he said.

Stober said New Season’s focus on sourcing local ingredients is important to the local economy.

“It’s important to our farmers. It’s important to our small-business owners, so we really appreciate that,” said Stober.

The new store has all the common grocery store amenities — a deli counter, a bakery and a large cheese section. But it also has a pizza counter, an espresso counter and soft serve ice cream.

The scene

The store opened at 8 a.m. Wednesday, followed later in the morning with a bread-breaking ceremony, with the store’s managers and local officials jointly tearing apart a giant challah loaf.

Representatives from the New Seasons Labor Union were outside the store’s opening, handing out pamphlets. As of reporting from last November, 10 New Seasons stores have voted to unionize. Neither of the Vancouver locations are a part of the union.

New Seasons also partners with Clark County organizations as part of the store’s charitable giving.

Alan Hamilton, president at the Clark County Food Bank, spoke at Wednesday’s opening, praising New Seasons for its help in combating food insecurity in the community.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this great store,” said Hamilton. “It’s beautiful, timely, wonderful. Can’t wait to try the pizza and ice cream.

“But so excited even more about the impact that it’s going to have on helping folks in the community,” said Hamilton.

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