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Bird shop joins growing town center

As Wood Village core grows, some retailers move across town, others open first store
by: John Klicker, BackYard Bird Shop managers Debbie Meyers and Don Holman will move with the store to Wood Village Town Center.

Backyard Bird Shop, the quirky wild bird specialty store that has been a part of Gresham Town Fair for the past 13 years, is trading shopping centers.

The business is one of the first to announce its presence in the newly built Wood Village Town Center.

'We hope it won't be a negative for our customers,' says owner Molly Evans. 'It is a really fresh and nice and new location. The space is 25 percent larger, and it's only about a mile and a half away from the Gresham location.'

Evans and her husband, Scott Lukens, who started the Backyard Bird Shop in 1991 inside a little house in Lake Oswego and has expanded to include seven shops throughout the Portland area, hope to be in the Wood Village location before Sept. 15 - the last official sales day for the Gresham store.

The owners look at the move as more of a cosmetic improvement than a chance in location.

'As the years have passed, we've tried to keep up with the times and stay fresh,' Evans says. 'Our Gresham store was more than 10 years old, so it was time to give it a facelift, to update it and this is a way to accomplish that.'

The store has a prime spot in the new Wood Village shopping center - with anchor store Kohl's on the left and Fred Meyer just around the corner.

Sparkling new buildings aside, the center's ample parking was another plus for Evans and Lukens.

'Our customers are buying a good bit of seed, so they need good parking spaces,' Evans says.

With its blend of wild bird specialty items and original, nature-inspired gifts, the Backyard Bird Shop has its share of loyal customers.

What really draws people in, however, are the 'bird brains.' That's what Evans and Lukens call the 35 employees who staff their stores, answer obscure questions related to backyard wildlife and pick out some truly unique gift items.

'A lot of people who shop in our stores are in need of information,' Evans says.

Want to know how to attract more monarch butterflies to your yard? The folks at Backyard Bird Shop can tell you. (Plant milkweed, according to Evans.)

'We think that the information and advice is an important part of what we do and our staff reflects that. There are so many experts working in our stores, so many people who know about backyard habitats and about encouraging wildlife to your yard.'

The 'bird brains' rotate around the various Backyard Bird Shops, but Evans anticipates that most of the familiar faces from the Gresham store will also work at the Wood Village center.

'We see this as simply relocating our store a mile and a half away,' Evans says. 'We hope our customers will follow.'

Town Center signs up tenants

The Backyard Bird Shop will be one of the first tenants in the newly constructed Wood Village Town Center.

Sleep Country has also confirmed that it will occupy one of the 11 storefronts that are under construction along Northeast Glisan Street and Northeast 223rd Avenue, said Sheila Ritz, Wood Village city administrator.

Great Clips and Wireless Toys have already filed permits with the city to get signs for their storefronts in the Wood Village Town Center, Ritz said, adding that Starbucks will be moving into a building on the corner of Northeast Park Lane and Northeast 223rd Avenue.

According to information posted on the city's Web site, other tenants will include Sargo's Subs and Village Nails.

Fred Meyer and Lowes, two of the anchor stores in the Wood Village Town Center, opened in 2001, and Kohl's, a Midwest department store, opened April 6.

In addition to the retail components, the Wood Village Town Center also includes the former Multnomah Greyhound Park and 87 single-family homes, which are under construction and have all been pre-sold.