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Market of Choice ready to open Bend store

BEND — Market of Choice on Thursday will open its first store in Bend, the Eugene-based grocery store chain’s 10th outlet.

Located south of downtown, the store opening at 7 a.m. will achieve the longtime goal of Market of Choice to have a Bend outlet, said CEO Rick Wright.

“We have had numerous requests (for a store) from consumers” who are familiar with Market of Choice, he said.

Market of Choice in Bend will compete with such chains as Safeway, Albertsons, Trader Joe’s and Fred Meyer, Whole Foods and Natural Grocers, plus an independent grocer, Newport Avenue Market.

At 34,000 square feet, the store cost $8.5 million to build and equip, Wright said.

The store resembles a smaller version of the chain’s flagship outlet near 29th Avenue and Willamette Street in south Eugene. The store will feature the same products and departments as other Market of Choice outlets, Wright said, but it also has a couple of new elements, including a full wine bar and built-in growler station.

Casey Capell, who worked for Market of Choice in Eugene, Corvallis and Beaverton, is the store manager. The store employs about 140 people.

Market of Choice eight years ago purchased the vacant lot on Northwest Sisemore Street to build the store, but the recession delayed construction plans, Wright said.

The building was constructed over the past 14 months by Dickerhoof Properties of Corvallis. Market of Choice sold the property to Dickerhoof Properties, Wright said, which developed the store.

His company now leases the store from Dickerhoof Properties.

“We lease all of our retail locations,” Wright said.

“It is not that we prefer to lease, it’s just that with our growth strategy we have to decide if we want to invest in real estate or grocery stores,” he added. “So as we expand, we have continued to lease rather than own.”

Gary O’Connell, Central Oregon market president of Summit Bank, said Market of Choice will give Bend craft beer and food producers another outlet to sell their products.

He said his bank, which is based in Eugene and last year opened a branch in Bend, does not have a business relationship with Market of Choice.

O’Connell said he’s looking forward to shopping at the store, partly because of its extensive prepared-food offerings.

He and his wife, Laura, have six children.

“We are a family on the go, and we like to have a variety of nutritional food options for shopping and take out,” he said.

The new store is the latest chapter for the grocery company with roots dating back 37 years.
In 1979, Wright’s father, Richard “Dick” Wright, opened a Thriftway Market in Cottage Grove. The company added stores and changed its name to Price Chopper.

In 2000, it began converting its stores to Market of Choice, which gave shoppers the choice of natural and organic foods and conventional products.

Stores were added in Eugene and the company expanded to Ashland, southwest Portland, Corvallis, West Linn and Beaverton.

Wright said Market of Choice next summer will open its first urban Portland store, east of downtown and the Willamette River, in the LOCA @ the Goat Blocks redevelopment project.