Portland, OR— It’s not often we get to report on a new natural products store opening. Although this is a small store, it’s a big story because it’s the brainchild of Chuck Eggert, founder of Pacific Foods, and Errol Schweizer, who worked for Whole Foods Market for 14 years and spent eight of them leading their grocery department.
Called Basics Market, the first one opens in September here. A second location will open in Tualatin, OR, at the end of the year, and a third will open in Beaverton, OR, in 2019.
Basics Market aims for a less-than-basic shopping experience: the store itself is a modest 7,500 square feet, will only carry around 500 items, and is dedicating a third of its space to a classroom, where customers can attend sessions on healthy living, cooking, and essential cooking skills, according to Food Dive. It also dedicates space to stations in which customers can bundle ingredients to create meals developed by Basics Market’s culinary team and in-house nutritionist.
While customers will be encouraged to customize, the base ingredients—both fresh and shelf-stable—will all be in one place. Many of the products, including meat and eggs, will come from Eggert’s farm, making traceability a snap, reports Food Dive.
Eggert and Schweizer are heavily focused on accessibility. Aside from the classes intended to teach those who were never taught how to cook, they will sell seasonal and local produce, meat, and dairy products—with no deli or prepared foods. The intent is to keep prices low enough that households which normally cannot afford organic food, finally can.
“This concept is built to serve everybody, especially folks who don’t normally venture into a shop like this,” Schweizer told Food Dive.
Along the same lines, Eggert chose to locate his first store underneath the Portland Clinic, so that people who are discovering they have dietary restrictions or requirements don’t have to travel far to satisfy them.
An article in Oregon Live quotes Eggert as saying: “If you want to have a nutritionist talk to you about how to balance your diet and eat correctly and those kinds of things, it’ll be the perfect spot for you.” He plans to open his other two stores near medical facilities, too, in order to capitalize on the connection between the food and medical communities, and to increase the accessibility of organic and natural food to people who need it.
Their focus on seasonal and local foods will also help Basics towards its goal of minimizing waste. Eggert hopes to tie the first Basics store to the lunch program he runs in a K-8 school in Portland, saying: “We’re trying to design everything so we don’t have any waste out the back door.”
According to the Basics Market Facebook page, ingredients will be organized by recipe at five “meal stations” and designed to be quick and easy to cook at home.
Pacific Foods, the 31-year-old natural foods company based out of Tualatin, OR, was sold to Campbell Soup last year for $700 million. Meanwhile, Whole Foods Market is the 38-year-old natural foods company sold to Amazon last year for over $13 billion.