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What do People's Co-op customers think of New Seasons' plan for a new store? A report.

Volunteers from the No New Seasons campaign flyered in front of the People's Co-op on Wednesday. Wednesday is a busy day at the store because that's when the weekly farmers' market is held outside, and folks come from all over to buy fresh produce direct from the source. The three of us passed out a couple hundred flyers (included with this article as downloadable PDFs) and had dozens of conversations. We found a diversity of opinion among people who regularly shop at People's about New Seasons' plan to put a large corporate whole foods store just a few blocks away.
photo of flyer
photo of flyer
About a third of the people we spoke to were against the idea of a New Seasons store, and felt like it would adversely affect business at People's. Another third were in favor of the store because they wouldn't have to drive (or in one instance bike) as far to go to both places. Another third felt like People's would be unaffected or that trying to resist New Seasons would be be fruitless. Everyone I personally spoke to was against the idea of New Seasons tearing down a house as part of their building plans, especially when they heard that the current plan puts the dumpsters there, right next to a convent.

For about half the people I spoke to, New Seasons plans were news. "Fuckers!" one customer said. Many shook their heads or muttered under their breath. "Everytime someone finds a way of making a dollar," one farmer said, "another five try to take it away!" This farmer felt that a New Seasons store would spell the end for People's. Conversely, another farmer felt like the store would bring more business to the Wednesday market and thus give him more business.

One thing we found when researching the issue of co-ops vs. corporate whole foods stores was an article in "Cooperative Grocer" magazine, which is a monthly trade paper for U.S. co-ops. In a 1999 article, the magazine predicted that within 10 years "most" co-ops could be driven out of businesses by their larger, corporate competitors. For those who doubted that New Seasons would have an affect on People's, this tidbit was food for thought.. Indeed, it is too often true that a big fish swallows up the little ones. The result is not a competitive society where the best people or companies win, but a cut-throat, greed-driven one in which those with the most cash overcome everything else and the result is a monopoly where no one has any real choices anymore.

One customer who was in favor of the New Seasons store was nonetheless happy to see us out there flyering. "It's good for people to be discussing this. I'm glad you're distributing this information." Others, with different, varying opinions on the issue also expressed gratitude. Some also said they wanted to help out how they could, which is great because this campaign is brand new.

For more information, and for flyers, etc., please visit  http://www.NoNewSeasons.org. We're still working on this website, so please don't write back with "this sucks!" We're working on it, and it'll soon be better. Our budget is not as high as New Seasons' is!

homepage: homepage: http://www.NoNewSeasons.org

'this sucks' - the flier that is 01.Aug.2003 18:23

grammer teacher

why does the word 'seasons' have that break in it: sea-sons in your flie? if there is not some sort of play on words (which i cannot think of what it would be if there is) why not create a flier with 'New Seasons' on a line all it's own to emphasize it rather than break it up like that.

weak campaign 01.Aug.2003 22:06


There's people dying because of US imperialism abroad, attacks on domestic civil liberties are increasing, ancient forests are falling, Bush is coming, and you are organizing around a New Seasons grocery store?

In different times, I'd tend to agree with the customer who appreciates that you are out there generating discussion about shopping choices. But it really seems that this is such a useless thing for people to be organizing around with so much other important work to do to make the world a better place. Not because the issue of co-ops vs. corporations isn't important, but because the threat you make this New Season's out to be is just not reality.

I remember People's members being genuinely concerned about the impact of the Nature's going in on Division several years ago, but there were no adverse impacts whatsoever. The sky did not fall. People's membership and income continued to grow and the long awaited expansion was able to move forward after Nature's moved in.

Those who predict doom and gloom for People's just don't know what they are talking about.

For the same reasons People's survived (indeed thrived) despite Nature's moving in, New Seasons will likely have little noticeable impact: People's members are loyal (especially working members), the neighborhood is stuffed with folks who want to support co-ops and true alternatives even if it means paying more for some items, its got the farmer's market, and its generally got cheaper produce and bulk goods than the chain health food stores - thus it has its own niche. New Seasons will primarily be competing with Natures/Wild Oats. They serve the same niche and will be competing with each other for the Ladd's Addition and Hawthorne area shoppers who rarely go to People's anyway. As for packaged 'healthy' grocery items which tend to be more expensive in smaller stores (economies of scale, eh), you still can't beat that 19% discount you get when you are People's working member.

So what if one magazine predicted most co-ops will be driven out of business in 10 years? For one, People's is not 'most co-ops.' Like I mentioned before it THRIVED after Nature's moved into neighborhood, defying everyone's expectations.

The only reason I took time to write this is that it seems like folks who are working on this 'campaign' should be putting their organizing energy into endeavors that really do something to make the world a better place. This one comes off as an elitist 'Not In My Backyard!' effort and it seems people could only become passionate about it if they lived a pretty priviliged life in the first place.

this is doing something 01.Aug.2003 23:07

eva goodwin

actually, you don't know what other work these people have done. and, this campaign is doing something about us imperialism. armchair activist, tell me what you've done aside from criticism?

dear mr "weak campaign" 02.Aug.2003 00:46

you pretend you know what you are talking about!

Person who wrote "weak campaign" :
You are talking out of your ass and my guess is that you are either not a member of people's, or you don't shop there much.
Yes, cutomer loyalty is great. The working member program at people's, however, does not keep the store in business. Let me break it down for you: If someone is receiving a large discount, there is very little profit to be made. Also, volunteers - awesome and hard working as some of them are - are not as time and cost efficient as having a staff member do the same job. Flat out, if everyone shopping at people's was a working member, that would not pay the bills.
Supporting members (the 4% crowd) and non-members pay the bills the most. they are the majority of people's shoppers, and in the end their business let's people's pay back the bank loans, pay workers an increasingly fairer wage, and most recently ... health reimbursement! IT IS A GOOD THING WHEN A CO-OP MAKES MONEY, BECAUSE THAT MONEY GOES BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY. IT GOES INTO THE STORE. THE CO-OP SUPPORTS IT'S WORKERS.
Reading mean-spirited, defensive reactions to the No New Seasons campaign is a real bummer. Because: 1) you are completely incorrect about new season's not taking major business from people's. You are simply uneducated and repeating what the New Seasons suits are saying to the media. 2) You are writing off the No new Seasons campaign as worthless in the shadows of other more worthy anti-imperialist campaigns. (newsflash: rise of corporations, once as small and local as New Seasons, give birth to huge industries that profit from war and destruction of the planet. and if you want to tie more issues into it, then what about GMOs? People's has a "no GMO "policy - New Season's does not! How is that for living breathing politics for you? )



A few unsolved questions 02.Aug.2003 01:16

do not eat, scabs

I heard that the owner of New Season's is a previous owner of Natures (now Wild Oats.) Is this true? Does he still own stock options in Natures? With natures now becoming a corporate entity complete with Union Busting what will happen to New Seasons? With two of his company masterminds by Peoples what will happen to Peoples? What will happen to you or I who have invested so heavily and own part of People's? If he doesn't have stocks in Natures why is he targeting the sales of both People's and Natures with this company? I don't understand this logic.

Can anybody verify information on the owner of New Season's and why we should trust him in our community?

to - you pretend you know what you are talking about! 02.Aug.2003 07:25

take a breath

your response has so much anger
use your anger constructively and
continue with your campaign if you feel it's important

save the trees though - you can talk with people
instead of printing up hundreds of flyers - make one giant one
and leave it at that

yeah, doesn't seem to make sense .. 02.Aug.2003 09:39


Actually I believe the New Season's owner has long since ceased having any vested interest in Natures. Not sure tho, open to correction on this one.

But let's see, what here DOES makes sense if you really look at the choices and decisions People's has made over the years...

People's had the option of buying The Red Apple, isn't that right? I heard they were debating whether to buy this highly visible location, and decided against it, opting to use the community support that they have to make the co-op into something that everyone who contributed to the building of feels a part of co-creating... the *warm and fuzzy* approach to running a business. So in a move that came as no surprise to most of us, the inevitable logical new health-oriented business saw this obvious market and bought it instead!

It seems to me that since People's has spent virtually no energy on marketing....not even their Farmer's Market has a sandwich board sign on Powell or Division ... (I alone know of at least half a dozen folks who either live nearby (within 10 blocks) and didn't know of the existence of People's for over a year or sometimes two after they moved to this neighborhood, or who have heard of People's for years, but have never managed to find it when they go down Powell or Division looking for it...) and in fact make newcomers feel like unwelcome outsiders quite often... there seems to be a need for a place where the common public can go and 1) feel welcome and get introduced to alternatives to mass produced stuff 2) buy local meat and fish since People's won't carry it 3) pay reasonable prices, and have a good selection, of both organic and non-organic locally produced stuff, unlike what is currently available at Nature's down the street or at People's down the other street.

It seems to me that People's doesn't want to cater to the masses, and that those who are "in the know" (their preferred client-base) will continue to shop at People's anyway. It seems that People's when they voted to not sell meat, made a decision about their client base at that point. That client base is unlikely to change... the ones who want to feel good about where their money goes, will continue to work for discounts and shop at the store that only sells organics.. those that would like to buy local non-organics and who eat meat will shop at New Seasons instead of Fred Meyer, where the selection is just as good and cheap, but the food is not necessarily produced locally.

It actually seems to make sense to fill the niche with the huge gaps in the natural local foods market being left in SE by People's and Nature's.

I think that folks in SE just like to protest stuff and this is an easy target, that requires little research and a much shorter travel time than the corporations in this city who really do contribute to devastating business practices... Walmart is all the way over on 82nd street at Foster Road... I know that is a bit far to ride a city bus... and it is pretty hot out... And Nike is all the way up on MLK, a little out of the safety zone of SE to venture into and educate these customers about... I know that military recruitment doesn't affect as many privileged white kids so isn't a huge issue for most of us to focus on... more targets anyone?

re: me 02.Aug.2003 10:54



I found peoples within a week of visiting Portland before I decided to even stay. The rest of what you say is crap as well. Go eat at McDonalds and get ecoli. Hope you grow something warm and fuzzy on your back from all the growth hormones and gmo's you consume.

yeah right 02.Aug.2003 11:13


and fuck the rest of the city residents not in your club too, right?

another idea 02.Aug.2003 12:05


Maybe since this new seasons has some bucks there could be an herbalist or two hired to fill the niche lost when Wildflowers On Hawthorne went under. It would be nice to again have a selection of affordable herbs available here in Portland, along with herbalists to consult and to prepare tinctures and oils and salves when needed, like the ones at Wildflowers used to do.



No, you got the wrong idea. The rest of the citizens not in your club (shopping corporate grocery stores) are fucked by y'all. I'm just pissed about it. All you have to do is be interested in buying from a community grocery store with organic non-gmo health food. Walla! First name on everybodies lips is People's. Even off the tongue of Nature's workers, Fred Meyer's workers, limbo's workers,and Daily Grind Workers. Especially the corporate fucked slave wage earners hope that you will set the precedence by shopping at People's. They do... Why can't we keep the work in our community? If people's doesn't have something you want you can : BUY ONLINE or special order it from people's. You decide to fuck the community and then asky why we THE WORKERS GET ANGRY. WHY DOESN"T NATURES HAVE A UNION?

ALSO to the person who said that maybe they could hire an herbalist. Why don't you become an herbalist and volunteer at people's? When you are active all possibilities are open to you. If you were to spend more money at people's and less on coc-cola/odwalla products you would see it return ten fold to you and the people.

have fun wasting your time 02.Aug.2003 14:06


new seasons is a portland run, portland own store with many organic products, last time i checked we were all about supporting (not protesting) locally operated stores with healthy, organic food

hmm 02.Aug.2003 15:21


I really think that People's does have its own niche. There are lots of people in PDX that are loyal to co-ops, and evolved enough to head down to one when they need groceries. There are also lots of people in PDX that have no idea about organic foods and sustainable living or buying in bulk or any of it. If New Seasons, which did get screwed out of the Nature's deal a while back wants to up people's awareness, let em. They have more of a budget to advertise, and a bigger name. Mainstream people will not be initally drawn to peoples, but will be drawn to new seasons, and then evolve to People's as they learn. Long term, it might even increase People's sales.I don't think People's will be as effected as Natures. Shopping in more than one place for your groceries and HABA is also part of a sustainable world. Create some competition between businesses and save that .10 on toothpaste by going to another store, spread the wealth, use your consumer dollar as best you can.

what to do about new seasons 02.Aug.2003 18:24

chimpy on vacation in maine

what to do about new seasons

1.Don't act as if they pose a threat to People's. Just encourage people to shop at People's now and once the NS goes in. Flyer the inside of the store, the telephone poles outside, the surrounding neighborhood. Use this as an opportunity to promo People's.

It is better to take a political stance FOR rather than AGAINST something. Otherwise you seem to be on the defensive. Also. By claiming that NS is a threat you are making it a competetive situation when you don't have to. Notice that People's doesn't have any problem with NS. Just shop at People's and encourage others to do so.

2. Make damn sure NS doesn't have locks on their dumpsters, that they donate liberally to Food Not Bombs and hire people from the neighborhood. It might be possible to encourage them to be a decent neighbor.

3. Fucking shoplift the joint like mad!

Chimpy 02.Aug.2003 19:20


Good post! How's the vacation in Maine?

My $0.02 worth 02.Aug.2003 21:24


I've been following this issue on Indymedia since it broke, and I'll toss in my $.02 worth.

First, it's more than just an issue of New Seasons moving into an existing storefront. They want to demolish both the old Red Apple, a neighboring laundromat, AND a neighboring residential property. New Seasons is not just talking about moving in; they're talking about significantly reshaping the neighborhood to meet their needs and then moving in.

Second, it seems pretty obvious they're probably targeting People's just from the location they chose. If a cooperative that takes pains to give its workers a voice is replaced with a capitalist enterprise that does things the traditional authoritarian way, then YES it's an issue. The fact that New Seasons is on some points better than, say, Albertson's doesn't make it any less an issue. That's like saying the Bush regime and the Patriot Act aren't issues because hey, it's still not as bad as the ex-USSR or Nazi Germany with respect to domestic human rights.

Third, I had no problem learning about People's when I moved to Portland, and felt welcome shopping there from visit #1. Since I don't live in that neighborhood, I've never become a member, choosing instead to be a member of the co-op nearest me. I do fairly frequently find myself in that part of town and often stop by People's for a snack; they even honor my co-op membership and give me discounts as if I was a member of People's!


Peoples & NS (again) 05.Aug.2003 15:29


People's has a prime chance to market themselves and increase membership among the residents that live around the store. Until NS comes in, there is no other local competition, and the residents are in many ways a captive market. But what has People's done to capatilize on this situation? They've done squat. That's right, squat. They don't seem to care if neighborhood residents shop there or become members or not.

If they don't care, why should you?

People's is the most successful example of true revolution in this town! 05.Aug.2003 17:19

Person among People's

Wow, so nice to see so much interest in People's.

For those making assumptions about the place, please feel free to ask questions, visit the store, check out the website www.peoples.coop (yes, coops have their own domain name), and learn about cooperative ownership versus corporate business as usual.

There is a fundamental difference between a cooperative structure and a corporate one which should encourage all those who profess to be activists to use their money like votes and buy their food at a cooperative.

People's is literally owned by thousands of people. No one can have more than one share. Owners make the decisions. Ownership is open to everyone. Store policy is value driven, not profit driven.

Cooperation is fundamentally different than competition.

Which value do you want to live by? Which value do you want to teach your children?

People's: there is no competition!

Oh yeah, NS will sell out or be bought up by another chain within a decade. The people will put them out of business!

Excited by NS 16.Aug.2003 17:38

people's shopper

I currently live in Ladd's Addition and have been saddened by the closing of both the Ladd Circle Store and Red Apple. The reasons are the ability to buy things not at PEOPLE's within walking distance.

Being a meat eater, I'm excited about having New Seasons in walking distance to supplement my purchases at People's. So Freddie's and Natures be damned. In my case People's will be getting more business, since now we know if we can't find it at People's, we can find it at New Seasons. As opposed to driving to Natures or Freddies and getting everything.

According the plans I've seen, the current building are not going to be knocked down, just renovated and expanded. The current buildings are an eyesore, and a viable business in that location will help all the businesses in the neighborhood.

people's is a clique 21.Aug.2003 13:00


I have been a member of People's Co-op twice. I live 10 blocks away, and it seemed like a great place when I first joined. I had a bad experience the first time I joined... the more active members treated the passive members, like myself, with disrespect. I joined again a year later thinking that that experience was limited to one person, and I should really give People's another shot. I had the same experience again. Now, I rarely shop there because People's is a hippier-than -thou clique. I welcome New Seasons to my neighborhood. They are a locally owned, diverse and well stocked store and I would much prefer to shop there than Nature's OR People's.

Made to feel uncomfortable 22.Aug.2003 13:02


I must Admit I love the selection at Peoples, but the People are a little off putting. I felt like I was in England. Bad customer service and just a bad vibe. God forbid the employes smiled or offered help finding a product. On that note, I think there is room enough for both on Division. Maybe a little competition will make Peoples a little more People friendly.

New Seasons and the Grudge 21.Dec.2003 18:26

Ben DiBanana ben_dibanana2003@yahoo.com

Nature's is the obvious target of New Seasons and every location they move into is congruent to a Nature's location. The pricks at NS can't seem shake the HUGE chip on their shoulders from the Wild Oats buyout. Let's look at the facts: ALL 4 Store Managers were former Nature's managers. ALL of the starting department coordinators were Natures recruits. Out of the several departments in the first two locations, ALL BUT ONE department manager was a former Nature's department manager. Now that they've created the personel riff, let's look at the locations. Raleigh Hills. First location. Right in between the Hillsdale store and the Beaverton store. 3 miles from the original Nature's location. Their third and fourth stores, Orenco Station (Hillsboro) and Concordia store were directly targeting the Lake Oswego and Beaverton Natures(Orenco), as well as the Fremont Natures(Concordia). The new Ladd's Addition store is targeting the Division store head-on and will try to combat the Laurelhurst store, for what it's worth. Not to mention, they're putting their corporate headquarters at the new Ladd's store. The Division Nature's 2nd floor was their old corporate office. Hmmmm. Oh and before I finish, let's look at the store managers. Carly Curtis, from Concordia. Former Fremont manager, both old and new store, for several years. Steve Kelly of Raleigh HIlls was the Nature's Beaverton manager for almost ALL of his career there. Mike Holmstead, who worked at Orenco was the manager for not only the Hillsdale store and Lake Oswego, but opened almost all of the Nature's stores including Division, since 1991. If history tells us anything, I'll put money on him being the opening Store Manager at the Ladd's Addition location.
What's my point? Is that Brian Rohter and that dispicable, coniving Patrick Slabe, and about 80% of the management staff are not even putting People's on their radar. It's Nature's. It always has been. They've said so behind the curtain, but can't admit to it. For peaceful Portland, this is a war. It is a grudge match. And the victims are the Portland customers.
(Last comment: the Interstate and Portland Blvd store is targeting the Vancouver, WA store. Coincidence? I think not.)
Thanks for reading.


Co-op vs. New Seasons 30.Dec.2003 18:04

Local chef

I live in the area where the new seasons will be and I think that they have just as much right to be there as the co-op. I have shopped at both places equally and have been equally satisfied and disappointed with both stores. The co-op supplies very nice diverse produce from local vendors, but their prices are not always comparable to other farmer's markets. The same goes with New Seasons. New seasons however is most likely always more expensive than the co-op, but I get the diversity of product that I want from a market. People live here from all walks of life and I don't think that the vegetarian protesters should have the ability to shun a corporation that would provide high-paying jobs, a demanded product and a boost in the economy that is so desperately needed right now. Which is more important to you; a co-op having to bust their butts a little more to make their store more known to the neighborhood or an entire county of children going without basic elementary courses in their next year of schooling.