It’s possible that a Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is moving into the building at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue most recently occupied by David Chase Rugs and Furniture.

Photo by Matt Stensland

It’s possible that a Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is moving into the building at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue most recently occupied by David Chase Rugs and Furniture.

Grocery enters planning process in Steamboat

Vitamin Cottage could occupy Lincoln space

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Company officials aren’t ready to confirm it, but it appears the specialty grocery store hoping to come to downtown Steamboat Springs will be a Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage.

Documents on file at the Steamboat Springs Planning Department reveal that a Montrose-based real estate development entity, VC Steamboat I LLC, has filed an application for a change-of-use permit and another application for a minor exterior modification to allow a “specialty grocery” in an existing building at Lincoln Avenue and Third Street.

The contact information for VC Steamboat I listed on the permit application is another Montrose entity, Leadership Circle LLC, the principal of which is Matt Miles.

An article published in February in The Billings (Mont.) Gazette, states Miles is the developer ready to deliver a new Natural Grocers store by the end of June to a struggling shopping mall in Billings.

Vitamin Cottage Director of Marketing Nancy Flynn said Tuesday that she had no paperwork giving any indication that her company was looking at a new store in Steamboat, but she said that did not rule out the possibility. She added that it’s common for her to not learn about a new location until all of the details have been formalized.

“When it’s official, everyone in marketing will learn of it and we’ll send out an email blast and add it to the company Web page as ‘coming soon’,” Flynn said.

City Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said the permits for the new store could be approved administratively — meaning without a vote of Steamboat Springs City Council — pending a traffic study needed to sort out the flow of cars making left turns at the intersection.

Until this week, the building housed David Chase Rugs and Furniture. Owner David Scully told the Steamboat Today in early March that the building was under contract for sale. Coincidentally, the original use of the building was as a City Market grocery store.

Well-established, independent health food store Healthy Solutions already operates in a second 2,596-square-foot building in the parking lot next to the 11,000-square-foot building going through the city planning process.

Healthy Solutions owner Linda Carlton previously told the Steamboat Today that she intends to stay. Gibbs said this week that planning staff has talked with representatives of the developer about the importance of ensuring that Carlton’s customers will continue to have adequate parking and access to her business. He said those conversations also were shared with Carlton.

Flynn’s comments to the Billings Gazette revealed that the company is thorough in researching new locations and that it gathers data to “discover the soul of a town or neighborhood” to decide whether it will fit the company philosophy of “do no harm.” Among the information the company seeks before opening a new location is whether people there are outdoor enthusiasts and support education. Vitamin Cottage also wants to know whether the local population already buys from Natural Grocers online.

Miles, the developer, told the Gazette that he felt fortunate to have found an existing building in Billings that met his criteria for traffic, demographics and rooftops. Miles could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Gibbs said the location at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue has adequate parking for the additional grocery.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

mark hartless 2 years, 6 months ago

If I was Home Depot I would locate my northwest Colorado store in Craig where there would be less hoopla and lower taxes and a more appreciative atmosphere.

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John St Pierre 2 years, 6 months ago

Lowes is getting ready to open in Silverthorne... and Whole Foods just committed to a new store in Frisco.... there will never be a Depot or Lowes up in this corner of the state there just is not enough business to cover it.... Home Depot delivers here free and Lowes will the same....

Silverthornes Outlet Malls have cutoff any of that coming here....... why do you think we have the smallest Walmart n the country....

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rhys jones 2 years, 6 months ago

Remember the early marketing, before it went up for a vote, when our Walmart was touted as "the Taj Majal of Walmarts"? That was after City Market relocated to their current location, from the site of the proposed VC, if memory serves. "Oh the times, they are a-changin..."

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 6 months ago

John, Walmart here is small because the city of SS forced them to be small. Walmart greatly prefers to be big since it costs only slightly more and then they can carry all that they want. They were able to build the size they wanted in Craig and that one is much bigger.

The Taj Mahal comment was because SB was not going to allow Walmart blue or other normal Walmart building design. Instead SB said the Walmart was going to look like the rest of Central Park Plaza.

Though comparing Walmart and Lowes/Home Depot isn't accurate because Walmart looks to compete will all other retail while Lowes/HD are just home improvement. Maybe in 2007/8 when this area had hundreds of housing starts then they might have been considering this area, but after a few years of a few dozen houses a year then they are not going to come to a market that can be that slow.

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rhys jones 2 years, 6 months ago

Scott -- Now that I remember, there WAS a flap about building design, and I forget whether the city was the primary protagonist, or the shopping center. My brother (God rest his soul, and stay away from pharmaceuticals) took a case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in S.F., right under the U.S. Supreme Court, based on a very similar case, he representing the retailer accused of deviating from the standard, and basing his arguments on "brand identity." If you find yourself passing through an unfamiliar town, will you stop at Wendy's or Joe's Greasy Spoon? Franchises are usually locally owned and staffed, and they count on the association of you knowing what you're going to get. Should Coke paint all their trucks blue in a town that requires it? He thought not, and he won. The case actually turned on whether it was in the lease, which it was not. Of course it never came to a trial here, Walmart capitulating before they built. Now I wish we had their normal store. Thanks, whoever.

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rhys jones 2 years, 6 months ago

BTW -- it was Blockbuster Video who was the client, and their blue lettering, which varied with the shopping center's white standard.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 6 months ago

Recall that building now occupied by Walmart did not exist so they needed city planning approval. I didn't follow it so closely, but it seemed that the shopping center didn't care what was built as long as Walmart that was happy.

Original plan was for a standard Walmart store with a blue top on cinderblock walls and city said that it was to be same design and materials as rest of the shopping center. And that it was to be as small as Walmart would accept so Walmart couldn't carry everything in every downtown store. That was the popular theory on how to protect a downtown shopping district from Walmart.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 6 months ago

Well, if these corporations thought there was the local market to support their stores then they would be looking to open one.

And remember that when Hayden platted large commercial lots near the airport and mentioned the possibility of big box retail then suddenly City of SS starting saying well maybe we could reconsider the big box rules in west SB. City government may like having this or that rule, but when sales tax revenues is threatened then that is too important to ignore.

The other bit of Walmart history was that SB retail was not threatened by Walmart since it had already made the transition from low end daily supplies to being more restaurants and higher end sales (galleries, etc).

As for economic shrinkage, you should realize by now that is the lamest logic around. It makes very little difference to the local economy if you buy you from a local corporate store or from I-70. The local store is paying the wholesale and delivery cost to people outside of this valley regardless. The profit for the corporation that owns the store also leaves the valley. All that stays here is the tiny fraction that the store may have paid an employee an hour or two. And if you saved enough to go out to dinner locally and left a decent tip then you may have done just as much for the local economy.

The City of SS talks loudly about economic shrinkage because they have lost sales tax revenues.

But when locals, including local governments, hire consultants, architects and so on then whether or not they are local decides whether 100% of the money is spent locally or leaves the valley.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 6 months ago

Tom, I am not saying anything radical. I remember Scott Ford saying basically the same thing.

You have to look at how much of the purchase price is RETAINED in the valley or LEAVES valley.

When the purchase is for items made out of valley from an out of valley owned corporate store then very little stays here.

When eating at a locally owned restaurant where out of valley costs are limited to food costs which is normally less than a third of menu price then much stays here.

In fact, it is possible to help the local economy by shopping elsewhere if the money saved is then spent here on things that keeps money in the valley. Items such as specialized parts can often be purchased for less elsewhere such as online for less than the local store pays it's distributor. So purchasing those parts online keeps more money in the valley than buying them online. The key is the next step of whether the saved money is spent locally in a way that keeps money here or is also spent out of valley.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 6 months ago

Tom, I expect that Lowe's, Home Depot and every other major retailer is constantly looking at the data on whether they should open here. They can electronically sort through the relevant data and constantly have an updated list on where new stores would be the most profitable.

When it is worthwhile to open then they typically act promptly so they are not beaten by their competition.

Sure, they may be here looking for locations, but the local level of construction activity hardly suggests it is obvious this area is big enough and busy enough to support a Home Depot or Lowe's.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 6 months ago

oops, typo So purchasing those parts online keeps more money in the valley than buying them LOCALLY. The key is the next step of whether the saved money is spent locally in a way that keeps money here or is also spent out of valley.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 6 months ago

We looked at 2 studies a decade ago from Austin TX and from Maine's coastal communities. Both put similar numbers to what recirculates from your dollar spent at a locally owned store vs. at a chain store. 44 cents of that dollar recirculates from a locally owned store vs. 14 cents recirculating from a chain store. Because Linda uses local accountants, graphic designers and bankers.

The numbers have probably changed some.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 6 months ago

Tom, There you go again! I say shopping that saves money at I-70 stores can actually keep more money in this valley if enough is saved compared to shopping local corporate stores. You say that is completely wrong (and that I must be high). I further explain my logic. Steve adds in some research data. And then you again throw in an insult and change the topic saying people said stuff about big box retailing and Dollar Tree.

Your latest rant doesn't even make sense. Hayden, the midpoint of the area's two population centers, and Craig would love to have big box. SB didn't ban big box, it just added a requirement that they show public benefit and at this time that could be a bunch of sales tax receipts. You talk as if big box retailers had active proposals to move here and were being opposed. When, in the real world, there is no evidence that more big box retailers are trying to move here. Vitamin Cottage is moving into too small of a building to be considered big box.

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