Business & Development, City & Government, Creswell

Creswell assessing resident feedback on chain grocery store, Farmlands

CRESWELL – The City has taken the ongoing conversation surrounding the citizens’ desire to have a bigger grocery store seriously by circulating a questionnaire, which closed on Dec. 18, created by consultant Marketek, Inc.

The consultant group is using market research to try to “think like a grocery store” to understand Creswell’s demand, according to city planner Curtis Thomas. 

While it’s been an ongoing topic among the community for a decade, the conversations regarding the town’s need for a larger grocery store were amplified after the news broke that a McDonald’s would be going in at 375 E. Oregon Ave., displacing establishments China Wok and Hot Shots. Community feedback suggested that a McDonald’s was not what the City needed, stating that a grocery store would be much preferred.

“If you want to get a conversation going in Creswell, ask people what businesses they want to see there,” said Lisa Linnell-Olsen, community member. She was intrigued by the questions asked of the citizens in the survey, some of which alluded to the potential for a farmers market to come to Creswell.

“That is something I would really love to see grow, even more in Creswell,” she said. “Where I live, I walk outside, and I’m surrounded by people who have cattle on their land. I’m really close to farms, but I have to drive to Eugene for these things that are literally being produced by my neighbors.”

The results of the City’s survey will be shared with the city council once the data is ready for the public. Thomas did mention, though, that some survey responses acknowledged Farmlands Market in high regard – but those people are hoping for a “cheaper, bigger grocery store” to come to Creswell.

Prior to Farmlands Market’s opening in June 2014, Creswell’s sole grocery store was Ray’s Food Place, which was located on Emerald Parkway. It closed at the end of 2013 after its owner, C&K Market Inc., closed about a third of its stores after filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection case. Ray’s Food Place’s closure allowed owner Jessica Landstra to fill Creswell’s market needs with Farmlands Market; she started running the cornerstore grocery store when she was just 20 years old, and she jumped in with both feet. Since opening the store nearly a decade ago, Farmlands has expanded its dry foods inventory, its freezer capacity, and added a deli.  It also offers foodstuffs ranging from bags of chips, local meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Landstra said she works to “balance between organic (and) good pricing – because you’ve gotta be fair to the people who can’t get out of town, right?”

Being the sole grocer of a small town is complicated business, and relies on community feedback to fill the shelves appropriately. 

“There are so many facets to food. There’s the hot side of food, the convenient side, the organic side, the ‘I want it as cheap as possible’ side, the ‘I need to feed my family of six’ side – so for me, it’s just keeping up with all of the different things that people want and being able to fit it in the store,” Landstra said. “We just listen to what people want, and that’s how we fill the shelves.”

Regarding the City’s survey, Landstra said it’s really interesting to gauge citizens’ thoughts because “the most important part to all of this is that the people who live here know what they want.”

“People do care, and it’s a big issue for them. If you’re ever going to build a model, model it off what the people you’re serving want, right?” she said. “I’m really interested to see if this is something that does pencil out.”

However, Landstra added that she is skeptical that a large, chain grocery store would decide to create a location in Creswell because of the traffic and research studies she is familiar with.

“(The store’s) going to do a traffic analysis. They’re going to be looking for where to get as many people as possible in our building, and they have to have a parking lot,” she said. “I think a Grocery Outlet would be really successful here. If I had the ability to gain square footage, that would be really helpful for me. I don’t know that, at least for myself, a full-size, full-amenities grocery store would work.”

Thomas said there were over 750 responses to the survey and that about half of the respondents provided contact information to stay updated on the matter.

“There is clearly a lot of energy around the topic,” he said.



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