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Hillsdale Wild Oats evaluated in organic food chain merge

Will the Whole Foods Market purchase of Wild Oats Marketplace bring changes the Hillsdale Town Center?

It might take a month or more to answers those questions. Beginning in April, Whole Foods representatives will evaluate each store across the country to determine which fits better into the local markets, Whole Foods or Wild Oats.

'We don't have all the answers yet,' said Ashley Hawkins, media relations coordinator for Whole Foods Market in Austin, Texas.

'Whole Foods has said that they will look at each and every store individually to see how it fits into real estate and marketing plans,' said Paul Raab, a public relations representative for Wild Oats Marketplace in Boulder, Colo. 'They haven't started that look yet.'

The Wild Oats Hillsdale location opened in 1990 in the Hillsdale Town Center. The store has about 40 employees and provides a variety of organic and local produce, meats and other products.

Whole Foods and Wild Oats announced Feb. 21 the merger of the two organic food grocery store groups in a $565 million deal.

The purchase of Wild Oats stock (for $18.50 a share) began Feb. 27 and closes in April. After that, the company will start looking at markets like Portland and Washington County to close stores.

John Mackey, Whole Foods chairman and chief executive officer, said the acquisition of Wild Oats was the company's largest and opens the Pacific Northwest market to his stores, which do not have a big presence here.

'We will gain immediate access into a significant number of new markets,' Mackey said.

Across the country, Wild Oats has 110 stores in 24 states and British Columbia, Canada. Whole Foods has 191 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

There are five Portland-area Wild Oats Marketplace stores. There are two Whole Foods stores in the area, one in Portland's Pearl District and one on Bridgeport Road.

The Hillsdale store has donated to many organizations including local schools, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center and the Autistic Children's Activity Program. The store is located at 6344 S.W. Capitol Highway and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.