IMAGE: basil childers
Five days after New Seasons announced plans to open its fifth natural-foods market later this year at Southeast 20th Avenue and Division Street, an email went out predicting the move "would seriously threaten the very existence" of the nearby co-op.
The Feb. 3 missive came from the City Repair Project, a group that has spearheaded several community-building projects in Portland. The email also suggested that New Seasons will offer nothing new to a neighborhood already serviced both by People's and Wild Oats' Nature's.
People's does not yet have a formal position about New Seasons, according to Kate Cox, the co-op's development manager. "Right now, we're really interested in celebrating who we are and what we're doing," she says. "We're not projecting New Seasons to be a threat."
Similar concerns were voiced about the co-op's fate when Nature's opened on Division in 1992. But instead of being driven under, "People's strengthened its resolve to stay as purely on the original mission as possible," according to Kathey Sutter, who joined the impromptu email debate. She said Nature's arrival also helped the neighborhood by encouraging local businesses like Laughing Horse Books and Mirador to set up shop.