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Founder was part of Nature's team when it occupied that property a few decades ago

PMG PHOTO: BILL GALLAGHER - The latest Basics Market to open in the Portland area is located in Tualatin.Anyone who's been around Southwest Portland for more than a couple of decades may have already done business with the man who founded the company that's taking over the grocery store site in the Hillsdale Shopping Center.

Basics Markets announced right after the first of January that it would be taking over and reopening the Food Front Hillsdale location. COURTESY PHOTO:P BASICS MARKET - Chuck Eggert, founder and Presidnet of Basics Market, was on eof the three co-founders of New Seasons MArket and started Pacific Foods.Chuck Eggert is the founder of Basics. He's also the founder of Pacific Foods, the company that first put organic soup and soy milk in a box beginning in 1987. He's one of the three founders of New Seasons Markets and now one of the chain's major suppliers.

The Eggert's family farms make up one of the biggest organic agriculture operations in Oregon, including dairies, farms and ranches. In December, he created Wild Rose Foods Co. to market a variety of "ethically sourced Oregon products."

His new store in Hillsdale, the fourth Basic Market to open since 2017, will feature fresh, locally sourced products, a handful of "pantry items," a coffee bar and bakery, a deli and in the ready-made, convenience food section that will include what is described as "get-it-while it-lasts options," be it a breakfast sandwich, seasonal salad or soup of the day.

"Locally sourced" in this case means products from the many companies Eggert now owns. Costs can be kept down and prices "accessible" because there is no middle man for most products.

"Nourishment From the Ground Up"

COURTESY PHOTO: BASICS MARKET - Fernando Divina is the president, creative director and executive chef of Basics Markets.Fernando Divina is the president of Basics Markets. He spoke with the SW Connection shortly after visiting the site at 6344 S.W. Capitol Highway in mid-January. He expects the market to be open for business by March.

"I think it will be great. We're excited. This is a great spot. We're going to clean up the property, change the face of it and give it a Basics feel. It's going to be a pretty quick turnaround for us," he said.

The website for Basics Market, basicsmarket.com, like the websites for Eggerts' other operations, promotes "Nourishment from the ground up" and positions itself as "a market with a purpose: nurturing strong healthy communities through food."

Risky business

The Hillsdale Basics Market is opening following a small wave of closings of local grocery stores. Food Front went out of business at the end of the year. Thriftway in Garden Home shut down in the late summer and Market of Choice on Terwilliger moved out last spring.

Divina was asked what Eggert — who was involved with the Hillsdale site when it was a Nature's Fresh Northwest and then helped create New Seasons — might know about the business that others missed.

"There are several reasons Chuck decided this is a good time to reenter the market industry. But there has to be a new model tried. Only somebody like Chuck could pull that off," Divina said.

He explained that new model: "In order for us to be profitable we have to have all of our sister operations fully functioning from the source to the production to the distribution and sale. Once we get that all fully realized it's going to put us in a position that I don't think anybody else is able to do right now," Divina said. In other words, no one in the local grocery business produces what is sold to the extent Eggert does.

It's conceivable you could shop at a Basics Market and not spend a dime on something that didn't come from one of Eggerts' other businesses. If you purchase some Pacific Food broth, a dozen Gwendolyn's Organic Eggs, a half-gallon of Lulubelle milk, a half-pound of Willamette Valley Cheese, fresh fruit from the Dundee Fruit Co. and chicken breasts from Aurora Valley Poultry Co., you will have ridden his supply chain.

That business plan supports the mission at Basics, Divina said. "We want to provide the right thing at the right price and see if we can do the community some good and help them prepare food as simply as possible."

Health food

The store will offer cooking classes sometime after the initial opening and there will be nutrition information available immediately. In-store informational signage will provide healthy food preparation advice. Partnerships with major local health organizations like Oregon Health & Science University, and Legacy and Providence hospitals, are in the works.

It's all part of the plan, Divina said. "We feel it's really important to create nice, long-lasting relationships. So we'll be focusing on 'face time' and getting to know folks by their names. Where it's possible, we want to maintain a human link when it comes to transacting in a market place. I think our product will speak for itself."

Getting back into a market business that has seen significant changes since his days with New Seasons may seem risky, but no one is underestimating Eggert's chance to succeed with Basics Market.

Brian Rohert, who started New Seasons with Eggert and Stan Amy in 2000, told Oregonian reporter Jonathan Brinkman in 2004, "He (Eggert) seems to be a few steps ahead of everybody else. He has his ear to the ground and his nose in the air."

For those wanting a preview of what's to come in Hillsdale in March, you can check out the Basics Markets in Tualatin at 8680 S.W. Old Tualatin Sherwood Road, just west of the intersection with Southwest Boones Ferry Road or at 5035 N.E. Sandy Blvd. in the former location of Gustav's Der Rheinlander Restaurant.

Basics Market is accepting applications for employment at its website. Divina said all of the employees laid off at Food Front have been invited to apply.

Website: www.basicsmarket.com

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