Grocery Outlet comes to area lacking supermarkets

Grocery Outlet comes to area lacking supermarkets

A new Grocery Outlet Bargain Market opened in east Portland, an area considered a "food desert" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Five groceries have closed in the past three years in east Portland, including the Albertsons that occupied the anchor spot in this Division Street shopping center until late 2011. Neighbors have spent years fighting for better access to public services such as sidewalks, parks and libraries and more recently have begged city planners and development officials to help them lure more shopping alternatives.

Demographics drive where groceries locate, a business reality that presents a long-term challenge for east Portland and other food deserts. Neighborhood activists dream of attracting the kind of high-end or big-name retailer that can woo other businesses by its mere presence, say a New Seasons or a Trader Joe's. But those sorts of companies, which spend millions of dollars on new stores, aren't going to expand where preliminary fiscal models show a low return on their initial investment. East Portland is denser than most other parts of Oregon, but the median household income in the new store's census tract is $20,000 lower than the region as a whole.


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