Green Zebra, a Portland, Oregon-based healthy grocery and convenience store hybrid with three locations, is winding down operations after 10 years in business, citing pandemic-related supply chain, staffing and other economic issues.
All three Green Zebra stores will close on March 31, the company announced on its website this week.
“Since being founded in 2013, Green Zebra has sought to redefine what it means to be a convenience store in America,” the company said. Instead of selling cigarettes, lottery tickets and carbonated soft drinks like most convenience stores, Green Zebra offered customers made-from-scratch grab-and-go meals, a full-service coffee bar, kombucha Zlurpees, locally sourced meat, produce and groceries, along with a local beer selection.
Green Zebra supported its staff with fair wage jobs, increasing its minimum wage seven times and offering affordable health insurance for all staff and their dependents, it said.
In 2019, with a fourth store set to open, Green Zebra founder and CEO Lisa Sedlar set a long-term goal of opening 100 stores on the West Coast by 2025.
Then COVID-19 happened. In 2020, the chain closed two of its four stores because of the pandemic.
“We have been holding on by a thread since the pandemic started and have been in austerity mode since then,” Sedlar said Tuesday, in announcing the chain’s impending closure. “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.”
Sedlar continued, “I want to express my deep gratitude and love for our truly awesome team members, loyal customers, vendor friends, landlords, investors and everyone who has helped us along the way. It has been a great honor to serve our local community over the last 10 years, and we’re beyond disappointed that we were unable to overcome the challenges presented by the global pandemic and current economic conditions.”
A “values-based business,” Green Zebra has been a champion for the local food economy, as well as serving and supporting the communities surrounding each of its stores, it said. Over the years, Green Zebra partnered with more than 100 different local nonprofits such as Harper’s Playground, Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, Meals on Wheels and PSU Food Pantry.
Sedlar said Green Zebra is committed to ensuring an orderly transition. “We will pay all of our team members in full, including their accrued vacation hours,” said Sedlar. “I highly recommend hiring our team members as they are knowledgeable grocery professionals who provide the highest level of service. In addition, I am personally reaching out to other local grocery leaders and encouraging them to hire our team members.”
She added, “We would appreciate it if our customers would continue to shop with us in the coming weeks as we wind down. 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.”
This story was originally published in WGB sister publication CSP Daily News.