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New 'green' market slated to open this fall in Woodstock

by: COURTESY OF LISA SEDLAR - During a lease-signing ceremony for the new Green Zebra Market, held at The Joinery in Woodstock, landlord Marc Gaudin (second from left) and market owner Lisa Sedlar (striped shirt) were joined by Dr. Janet Leigh, who is Gaudin's wife, and Dan Bozich of Urban Works Real Estate.For many years, some Woodstock residents have been expressing a desire for a grocery store offering “fresh, healthy, local” food options. The first two years of the successful seasonal Woodstock Farmers Market has validated that many residents share that desire.

On January 21st Lisa Sedlar, former President and CEO of New Seasons Markets, announced her plans to provide the neighborhood with such a market.

In a press release, Sedlar described her plans for a chain of small format grocery stores with butcher and produce counters and old-fashioned customer service, to be named “Green Zebra Grocery”. One of the first two to open will be across from the Woodstock Branch Library at S.E. 49th and Woodstock Boulevard – slated to open by fall. The other store to open this year will be in the Kenton neighborhood at Lombard and Peninsular.

“The idea of the twenty-minute neighborhood [where residents have easy, convenient walking and bicycling access to many of the places and services they use daily] really resonates with me, and I think our smaller-sized stores will fit well into a lot of Portland neighborhoods. Our stores will have a produce department with lots of locally grown fruits and veggies, a small butcher counter featuring grass fed beef, and we’ll have a great selection of healthy grab-n-go foods. But because not everyone eats healthily 100% of the time, we’ll also offer a selection of traditional convenience store items like Gatorade and Doritos,” revealed Sedlar in the press release.

The approximately 4,000 square foot space to be occupied by Woodstock’s Green Zebra Grocery was formerly occupied by the Lents Education Center. Last year Marc Gaudin, founder and owner of The Joinery, bought the building, and he will be the landlord. During its twenty years in the neighborhood, The Joinery has been committed to community building and sustainability. Gaudin tells THE BEE, “I am thrilled to help bring another local business to the neighborhood that shares our same values, and that meets the needs of the neighborhood.”

As for the store’s name “Green Zebra”: In her press release Sedlar explained, “The name ‘Green Zebra’ came from the tomato variety that grows particularly well in our region. I wanted the name to be memorable, fun (even fanciful), and relate to our local food shed. I think Green Zebra Grocery accomplishes all three.”

In December, Gaudin called a meeting where he and Sedlar met with neighborhood leaders and land use members. Gaudin outlined his plans to lease the former LEC space to Sedlar, and said this was part of his plan to enhance the neighborhood he has grown to love.

At that meeting, Sedlar, who is a formally trained chef as well as a retail and regional food pioneer, explained that her vision of smaller grocery stores with natural foods and friendly customer service grows from her experience at New Seasons Markets, and also from her childhood.

“This is about bringing back the corner grocery store that we had as a kid. We’ll have a butcher counter. I am Polish, and back in our Detroit neighborhood the butcher knew the name of my mother, my brother and my sister,” explained Sedlar. “But this is not about me. It’s about each neighborhood, and what it needs.”

The idea of filling smaller spaces with neighborhood grocery markets selling healthier food is catching on fast in Portland. In the month of January, Local Choice Market opened in the Pearl District, and the day before Sedlar announced her plans, Fred Meyer’s new president publicized his ideas for creating smaller stores offering more local choices. And, of course, the Woodstock Safeway is just three blocks away, and at least three convenience markets are not much further away than that.

Asked if all this competition makes Sedlar nervous, she responded, “No. It’s exhilarating and fun. There’s room for all of us. We are all doing something a little different. All of these stores will strengthen our local food economy.”