Green Zebra, the Portland-based hybrid of corner store and specialty grocer, is winding down operations following three years of pandemic closures coupled with inflation.
The mini-chain, which was founded in 2013, announced today that it would permanently close all three of its remaining locations March 31. Those shops are located at Southwest Broadway on the Portland State University campus, Southeast 50th Avenue in the Richmond neighborhood, and North Lombard Street in Arbor Lodge.
“We have been holding on by a thread since the pandemic started and have been in austerity mode since then,” Lisa Sedlar, Green Zebra founder and CEO, stated in a press release. “We experienced nine straight quarters of increases to our cost of goods, packaging, fuel, insurance, taxes, freight charges and well, pretty much everything. Combine that with supply chain and staffing shortages and razor thin grocery margins, we just couldn’t overcome all the obstacles. We definitely gave it our all and fought the good fight. We are thankful for the opportunity to have been in service to our community.”
When Green Zebra opened, it sought to redefine the neighborhood convenience store by stocking its shelves with made-from-scratch, grab-and-go meals, locally sourced meat and fresh produce rather than cigarettes, supersized sugary drinks and lottery tickets. The stores also featured full-service coffee bars, served kombucha “Zlurpees” and, while they still had beer sections, sold an expanded selection of local craft brew.
It also pledged fair wage jobs. Green Zebra increased its minimum wage seven times throughout its 10-year history and offered affordable health insurance for all staff and their dependents.
In order to make the closure as orderly as possible, Sedlar says Green Zebra will pay all team members in full, including their accrued vacation hours. She is also reaching out to other leaders in the grocery industry to encourage them to hire those employees once Green Zebra has shuttered.
“We would appreciate it if our customers would continue to shop with us in the coming weeks as we wind down,” Sedlar added. “People often ask me if shopping local makes a difference and my answer is a resounding YES! Now more than ever small businesses need our support. Thank you in advance for voting with your dollars to support local businesses.”