Natural Grocers looks to add Portland stores to Beaverton, Gresham spots

With stores set to open in Gresham and Beaverton, Natural Grocers now has its sights set on Portland.

Kemper Isely, the company’s president, said Friday that the Lakewood, Colo.-based company is pushing hard for a Portland spot that would augment locations in Beaverton, which is set to open in August, and Gresham. The Gresham spot is set to open by early 2014.

The Portland store could open shortly thereafter.

“The real estate market in Portland is really tough right now,” Isely said. “We’re looking at enough properties, though, that I expect we can move into Portland in the next six months or so.”

Natural Grocers just opened its Medford location and is putting the final touches on its Salem store.

Portland is attractive to the chain because it has many so-called “food deserts.” that don’t offer enough grocery outlets in certain parts of town.

“Demographically, the people who live in Portland prefer organic food, but Portland is probably one of the least-grocered cities in the whole country,” Isely said. “Our business of selling only organic produce and really high-quality natural foods will be appealing to the area.”

The company, technically known as Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, is also opening a Bend store. The 58-year-old business operates in 13 Western and Midwestern states. It went public about a year ago, though the company is still managed by the family of founders Margaret & Phillip Isely.

Natural Grocers makes its name by selling only organic produce, as well as products that contain no artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. It also carries no products that contain hydrogenated oil. Its meat is also raised without hormones or antibiotics.

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