The market outlier

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2012
Friday, March 02, 2012

BY PETER BELAND

0312_Profile_DonKruger_01
Don Kruger at his farm market in Southeast Portland. After years of ups and downs, his farm-direct markets are thriving.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
Don Kruger paced fretfully but purposefully in his denim shirt and puffy vest, contemplating his next move like a futures trader going over the latest economic indicators. He scanned rows of squash and broccoli one last time at his farm stand in southeast Portland before scuttling off for tea and a pastry at a nearby bakery. “I used to be perfect. Everything was perfect and everything was expensive. But I was losing,” says Kruger about the demise of his high-end produce markets of the 1990s.

Kruger, owner of Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island, started as a produce manager at the now-defunct Daily Grind market in southeast Portland in 1984. Two years later he started Holiday Market in Lloyd Center and then co-founded City Market in northwest Portland in 1990 as its produce vendor. “I was on fire, I was on a run,” he says. “Then it started to erode. Zupan’s Market opened up. That hurt. Then the farmers market started to ruin our summers.” By 1996, he lost his lease to Holiday Market and was heading for disaster if he didn’t change something.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kruger did a TV spot for a local news channel called Green Grocer at Noon. On the show, he visited a farm on Sauvie Island. “I thought some day it was something I might want to do,” he recalls. In 1999, Kruger ran into Dennis Grande who was retiring and couldn’t find a buyer for his 75-acre farm. “I’d never farmed before. I had a garden and it wasn’t even that good,” says Kruger of his initial scouting mission. “I walked away from it a dozen times. Ultimately I took the plunge and signed a 10-year lease.”

As Y2K fever swept the country, Kruger wrote in his journal about his desire to grow produce and then sell it in his high-end markets. But when he took on the farm, he got with it a traditional farm management plan geared toward maximum production for the commodities market.

By late 2000, he was broke after losing $150,000 that year. He sold his share in City Market and another market to pay the $100,000 he owed to produce vendors. He went bankrupt in 2002.

 



 

More Articles

Intrepid reporter checks out ZoomCare rebrand

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
dentistthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes. 


Read more...

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Destination Resorts 2.0

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

As the recession recedes and tourism grows, Central Oregon resorts redefine themselves for a new generation.


Read more...

Modern design defines new Portland indoor market

The Latest
Thursday, June 25, 2015
thumbSnøhetta JBPM exterior www mir noBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An international architecture firm known for its design of the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York unveiled its plan this week for a modern indoor/outdoor food market at the foot of the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Biker dreams

The Latest
Friday, May 15, 2015
bike at ater wynn-thumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.


Read more...

Sun set

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

The right sunglasses can protect your eyes and look cool at the same time. This being the 21st century, select shades are socially conscious, too. Portland brand Shwood uses wood and other natural materials and manufactures locally. Founded by Ann Sacks, the brand Fetch dedicates a portion of its profits to animal welfare. But whether you choose classic tortiseshell or aviator chic, please, shed the sunglasses when you walk in the door — and, of course, at night. 


Read more...

Oregon businesses face destruction from future earthquake

The Latest
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
htctthumb1BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS