VOL. 114 | NO. 53 | Friday, March 17, 2000
By SUZANNE THOMPSON
Union Wild Oats
to close April 1
By SUZANNE THOMPSON
The Daily News
The Wild Oats store at 1801 Union Ave. will close its doors permanently on April 1, according to Jim Lee, president of the Colorado-based health food retailer.
"We have announced that we will be closing our Midtown store, what we call our Union store, April 1st," he said.
About 30 employees work at the Midtown location, Lee said, and they have the option of transferring to Wild Oats Poplar Avenue store or receiving severance pay.
Lee said the decision to close the store was not made lightly and was a result of declining sales at that location.
"Its not an arbitrary decision. Its a difficult one and painful, to say the least, he said. The sales have been declining and the store has been losing money..
Another factor prompting the decision was the retailer lost more customers than it anticipated when the Wild Oats Market on Sanderlin Road relocated to 5022 Poplar Ave.
"We lost a lot more business in terms of people transferring their business over to the new store than we ever thought we would," Lee said.
About half of the employees at the Union Avenue store are planning to transfer to the Poplar Avenue location, which employs about 100, he said.
"Its really their decision on what they want to do. Anyone who wants to go to the new store on the other side of town will be able to."
Before deciding to close the Union store, the company tried other solutions, such as hiring new management and refurbishing the store. These efforts, however, proved unsuccessful in producing higher sales numbers.
Wild Oats Markets Inc. operates nearly 100 stores in 22 states.
The company is publicly held and is traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol OATS.
Wild Oats purchased the Squash Blossom franchise from Memphian Jimmy Lewis in 1997, and converted the store into a Wild Oats Market.
Lee said the company likes the Memphis market and would consider opening another store here if the right location became available.
However, company officials have no plans to go forward with another location now.
"Were constantly looking for good locations and certainly all of the Memphis area is part of that review, but we have no such opportunity at this time," Lee said.