Tom Ross: Grocer eyeing the ’Boat
March 9, 2012
Is Steamboat in the running for a new branded health food store? It's too early to say for certain, but there are signs that a new retailer to Steamboat is exploring the possibility.
Steamboat Springs City Planner Seth Lorson confirmed this week that he has been contacted by an independent agent working on behalf of "some sort of grocery store" to possibly locate at the corner of Third Street and Lincoln Avenue in the building that houses David Chase Rugs and Furniture.
David Scully, who owns the rug and furniture store, as well as the building, confirmed that the building is under contract. The closing is scheduled for late April. However, Scully declined to talk about the prospective buyer.
The building previously housed a City Market grocery store, and the site already is occupied by the well-established Healthy Solutions health food store.
Healthy Solutions owner Linda Carlton said she is aware that there is an interested purchaser but said she was not free to talk about it.
Anne Halloran, who owns health food store Bamboo Market at the west end of Yampa Street, said customers frequently come into her store overlooking the Yampa River and share with her employees rumors about a large health food store coming to the area. Halloran said as far as she is concerned, it is premature to worry about it until a developer enters the Steamboat Springs Planning Department to pursue the necessary permits.
Although Scully's building once was a grocery store, Lorson said any new operator would need to obtain a change-of-use permit and likely a permit for a minor exterior modification of the building.
The change-of-use permit would entail exploring related traffic parking and pedestrian issues, Lorson said. He added that he is not aware of the name of the grocery operator that is showing interest in the site.
Nearby health food stores
The health food giant Whole Foods is seeking to build a store just off Interstate 70 in Frisco. The Summit Daily reported Feb. 15 that the Frisco Town Council voted unanimously to pursue negotiations with a local developer who has a lease in place, calling for him to build a 25,000-square-foot store for Whole Foods. Scully's building in Steamboat is closer to 17,000 square feet (not including the Healthy Solutions space).
In addition to larger grocers, Frisco shoppers also can buy health food at a nearby Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage in Dillon. Vitamin Cottage has Western Slope locations in Glenwood Springs, Montrose, Durango and Grand Junction. The business started with door-to-door sales in Golden in 1955.
In an FAQ on its Web page, Vitamin Cottage posed the rhetorical question, "Why aren't your stores super-sized like other grocers?"
"Our stores are specifically placed to serve the health and wellness of local communities. We have a smaller footprint to create less redundancy in our products and leave less of an impact on the environment."
Time will tell.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com