- Basics Market will open its fourth location next month in the Hillsdale neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, according to a company release.
- The company will lease a 12,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by a Food Front store that closed in December.
- Started in 2017 by Pacific Foods founder Chuck Eggert, Basics Market aims to promote at-home cooking and local, sustainable products. Stores feature products organized into seasonal meal displays, a “Northwest Proteins” counter with locally raised meats, produced that’s replenished daily and in-house nutrition experts as well as classes. Basics plans to open two more locations this year — one in Beaverton, the other in Portland's Pearl District neighborhood.
For Basics Market founder Chuck Eggert, the opening of this fourth store is significant.
The store location used to be the site of a Nature’s Fresh Northwest store. Eggert backed that chain, which opened its first store in 1969 and grew to six locations in Portland before GNC bought it in 1997. GNC then sold the stores in 1999 to Wild Oats, which Whole Foods acquired in 2007.
Eggert and his team will hope Basics is at least as successful as Nature’s was. In addition to earning a financial windfall, Nature’s was a pioneering chain in the natural grocery movement. According to Heather Arndt Anderson’s “Portland: A Food Biography,” it was one of the first grocers to stock specialty products alongside conventional products.
“In Nature’s one could buy, say, imported tagliatelle, Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, and a Diet Pepsi, all in one place,” Anderson wrote.
Nature’s executives Stan Amy along with Brian Rohter carried that knowledge with them to their next venture, New Seasons Market, which now operates about 20 West Coast locations and was recently acquired by South Korean retailer E-mart and its Good Food Holdings arm.
Basics carries the locally sourced, sustainably produced goods that are familiar to any specialty shopper. But it also has a few unique features that could prove to be trendsetting in grocery. Instead of aisle after aisle of products grouped by category, stores merchandise a lot of products in seasonal meal displays. Basics also offers a lot of in-store classes, with a focus on teaching people culinary skills and good nutrition.
“If we can educate them and teach them what good nutrition looks like, they’ll become loyal customers,” Eggert told Grocery Dive in 2018, shortly before the first Basics Market store opened.
Bill Bishop, chief architect with Brick Meets Click, said Basics has a lot of exciting things going on, and said it's yet another example of how small-format stores have become retail innovation labs. He cited Hy-Vee's HealthMarket and Fast & Fresh formats as other examples of this trend.
“The reinvention of the food store is happening in the small store format,” Bishop recently told Grocery Dive.