The vacant building on Jean Way, just off Boones Ferry Road, is coming back to life.
The property on 17711 Jean Way — which most recently housed a Walmart neighborhood market until 2016 when the store closed — is the new home for the farmer-owned cooperative store Wilco.
And, as of Jan. 21, its doors are now open to the Lake Oswego community.
The co-op, which is roughly 40,000 square feet with about 25,000 square feet of retail space, sells everything from home and outdoor products to clothing, pets and livestock, fencing, farm, garden and backyard items.
Wilco has four business units: retail, hazelnut processing, fuel and professional agronomy, and the Lake Oswego retail store will benefit rural homeowners and anyone with pets and gardens.
Jake Wilson, director of marketing and e-commerce, said when the real estate opportunity was presented to Wilco, the initial thought was that the Canby, Newberg and Oregon City locations would most likely cover the area. But after analyzing the family rewards loyalty program and looking at the customer demographic, it looked like Lake Oswego would benefit from a Wilco after all.
"We really like the convenience off of I-5 ... we have lots of stores in Oregon, (but) we have no stores in Oregon that are conveniently located off of I-5," Wilson said. "So we suspect this will actually become a pretty popular store."
Typically, Wilson said, the process to open a Wilco from the time the idea comes up to when it opens takes about two years — give or take about six months. In this case, discussions of a Lake Oswego store began two years ago but the in-depth project work took just about a year according to Wilson.
"Everyone was great to work with but also it was a rehab, not a ground-up," Wilson said. "We weren't having to come in and gut everything and rebuild or start from the ground up. Because we had such a nice facility to start with, it moved along pretty fast."
The store has about 20-25 "destination categories" — categories of products that are well-known and popular — that include canning, wild birds, beekeeping and vegetable starts, to name a few.
Pet and livestock is also a large category and Wilco sells baby chicks from about February through mid-October, as well as premium brands of pet food.
"This is unique to us (the Lake Oswego store)," Wilson said. "We are just adding a more extensive line of all the refrigerated frozen (pet foods). Most stores have one cooler, where here we have several — something that we hope proves out well and we'll be rolling out to all locations soon."
Other unique aspects about the Lake Oswego location include a new, design-focused Benjamin Moore paint center, a second story for clothing and footwear, Pendelton products and a self-serve dog wash with professional grooming services.
The clothing section includes workwear, rain gear and footwear like rubber boots and "things that last," Wilson said. Brands include Carhartt, Banner, and Wrangler Riggs.
The store also features an outdoor garden center, a lumberyard with several products like fencing materials, along with a covered drive-thru area for online pickups and loading — though there is a ship-to-home option.
Wilson said that Wilco also strives to be more sustainable.
The store holds events for the public where they can recycle things like plastic feed bags, car batteries and plastic livestock protein tubs, as well as donate blue jeans for home insulation.
"We're going through hundreds of thousands of those bags and so we actually have totes where customers can bring those back and then we work with Purina, our feed company, and they help us do recycling on those," Wilson said.
The recycled plastic tubs have also been made into benches that are placed outside of the Lake Oswego location.
The store has pretty much filled its positions. In total it has more than 35 employees with 30 years of collective Wilco experience.
"This is kind of a show piece location for us with how it came together," Wilson said.
Click here for more information on Wilco.
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