Lake Oswego's Palisades employees host store party to say 'goodbye'
One memory sticks out to Stephanie Agramonte when she thinks back on her time at Palisades Market Place in Lake Oswego: The time store employees and the local community rallied around former Palisades employee Mohammad Fawad Mohammadi after he was attacked as part of a hate crime in 2018.
Mohammadi was in a minor traffic accident while visiting Lincoln City with his family. He and his wife exited their vehicle to assess the damage and exchange insurance information when the other driver involved in the accident put his car in reverse and drove toward the couple.
Mohammadi was able to push his wife to safety, but he was struck by the vehicle and pinned between the two cars. He lost part of his right leg.
His co-workers at Palisades started a GoFundMe and raised about $150,000 for Mohammadi, with contributions from more than 1,800 people.
"The community and the employees — everybody — pitched in and took care of him. It was something so horrible but it brought out the best, which is kind of what I feel about this store (and what it) has done with so many people," said Agramonte, Palisades' office manager. "It just brings out the best in people and we're all a big family."
That's one thing almost every employee expressed — Palisades employees are one big family.
So it came as a surprise when workers and frequent shoppers heard that Palisades and the three other locations in Aloha and Portland owned by Bales and Lamb's Market Place — a subsidiary of Signature Northwest, LLC — would officially close by Oct. 19. The Lake Oswego store could close as early as Oct. 13 depending on inventory, according to Agramonte.
To celebrate the Palisades business, community support and workers, there was a store party at JJs Pub Oct. 2.
Current and former employees gathered and invited the public to stop in and say "hello."
"It's sad. It's sort of like a family store — it's not a big conglomerate," said Thea Ward, who's been at the Palisades deli and chef's station since 2015. "It didn't feel as alienating as other stores … So I'm sad that it's going."
Luckily, Ward found another job at the Zupan's Market in Portland. But that wasn't the case with all employees.
Nancy Reiniger has worked at Palisades for almost 20 years and will seek unemployment following her last day.
Though Reiniger said she feels lost right now, she plans to improve her computer skills to find a job where she isn't standing all day.
For the southwest Portland Lamb's Garden Home Thriftway store director Mike Babbitt, the closure will be a double hit.
He's also the agent for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission outlet that is part of the Lamb's Market Place, which will be shut down until another site is found that's not too close to an existing liquor store.
"We've been there over 50 years and never did I think this would be not a grocery store," Babbitt said.
Frequent Palisades shoppers were also disappointed their local grocery store would shut down.
Lake Oswego resident Rey Sosa recently returned from vacation to find his favorite grocery store's shelves bare, with no plans to restock.
Sosa hosts his company barbecue every year and usually orders meat for about 100 employees; now, he says he will have to drive out to a meat shop in Canby.
"This is my favorite store, my go-to for getting dinners or speciality items. Their meat selection was the best especially for the price. I'm really disappointed," Sosa said.
Allison Dyer, who lives in the neighborhood, will also miss it.
"It's pretty safe, like our kids have grown up walking here by themselves and they've been trading in their cans — all that kind of stuff. … We are super bummed. It's kind of our neighborhood go-to, so we are really sad about it and we liked the local flare to it and the unique things it offers," Dyer said. "I don't want to go over to Safeway or definitely not 365 for me, and that's another thing: The employees are so cool. I know they've been around for a long time so we're gonna miss it."
Rooted in the people
Roots Public House — a nonprofit tap house which supports local charities focused on promoting education, literacy, the arts and fighting hunger — found a short-lived home at Palisades in June, and is now officially closed at the Palisades location.
Owner Katie Abbott said she is still searching for another space and is hoping to stay local. Though no space is locked down, there are a few upcoming pop-up events, including a trivia night in collaboration with the Lake Oswego Public Library Oct. 22. Abbott said she hopes to have the event at the Oswego Heritage House. Roots will also be joining Dennis' 7 Dees at the Reindeer Event in December. People can follow Roots on social media or join the newsletter to stay up-to-date with the most current information about Root's future at www.rootslakeoswego.com.
"Like most of the community, we were surprised to learn of Palisades' closure and it has left us scrambling. There is a lot that goes into setting up a business from licensing to buildout and unfortunately we will be starting from scratch," Abbott said. "We are so grateful for the people we have met in our short time at Palisades. It was amazing confirmation that what we are offering — a gathering space for friends, the best beer selection on this side of the lake combined with generously giving back to community organizations — really resonated well with people in our area and we are excited to get back to it as soon as we can.
We know that at the end of the day this concept is not about the place, but about the people."
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