After a big announcement about its move into Keizer, then several days of remodeling, Haggen Food grocery opened its doors. The store went from stodgy to brighter and looser. Alas, it was not to last. Haggen’s Keizer store will close in October.

It wasn’t anything Keizer shoppers did or didn’t do—it all has to do with business in America today. The Keizer location was one of 146 former Safeway or Albertsons stores spun off by the equity firm that owns them.

With a good reputation in it home territory of northwest Washington state, Haggen management saw an opportunity to join the big guys and own stores throughout the west.  It seems safe to conclude that Haggen decided that not all 146 stores it bought were winners and made the quick decision to rid itself of 27 stores it did not want. That’s business.

Shoppers can bemoan Keizer being a one-store grocery store. In actuallity a majority of Keizer shoppers head to discount grocers such as Costco, Winco and Walmart. Neighborhood mom-and-pop markets gave way to grocery stores which gave way to discount mega-grocery stores. Business will always find a path to the consumer’s wallet—the grocery industry is no different. Food stores operate on thin margins so maximizing every dollar in sales is paramount, be it inside the store or by the whole operation, closing underperforming stores, locating stores in high income areas.

Social media was filled with comments about the closing of Haggen and desires for its successor. The stores people want to see replace Haggen at Creekside Shopping Center are unlikely to consider the site due mainly to its size.

If there is no immediate replacement come October there will be two major retail holes on River Road including the former Roth’s Fresh Market space at Schoolhouse Square. That’s two too many.

The nearly 40,000 residents of Keizer will have one grocery store to shop. This is certainly a perfect opportunity for the Keizer Economic Development Commission and the Keizer Chamber of Commerce to show their mettle and work tirelessly to recruit a grocery store to Creekside Shopping Center. That may not be such an easy task.

The consolidation of the industry has left fewer mid-market grocers. Unfortunately Keizer does not have the demographics that is attractive to a Whole Foods or a Zupan’s Market.  There is a cry for a discount grocer in Keizer; that’s why some people were so excited when it was thought Walmart would build at Keizer Station. Yet there is no discount grocery store on the horizon for Area C.

There are smaller grocery chains that can be a good fit for Keizer: Ray’s Food Place, a 43-store chain based in southern Oregon (they have a store in Sisters) or Chuck’s Produce and Street Market from Vancouver. The local organizations we look toward to maintain and increase Keizer’s economic vitality should leave no stone underturned in recruiting a second grocery store for Keizer.

It is not good for Keizer or its residents to have only one grocery store nor two large holes in our retail landscape.      —LAZ