Green Zebra woos food vendors

Green Zebra woos food vendors

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It’s official: Green Zebra Grocery is Portland’s most anticipated new retailer.

The brainchild of Lisa Sedlar, former head of New Seasons Market, Green Zebra debuts Sept. 25 at an old Safeway-turned-Super Buffet in Kenton.

Green Zebra: Meet some of the grocers future vendors

The store — and two more that will follow next year in Southeast Portland — promise to deliver fresh produce, meats, seafood, cheese and sustainably made products to Portland neighborhoods in an expanded convenience-store package.

Sedlar and her team broke from planning Thursday to sample wares from food vendors eager to secure a place on Green Zebra shelves. Nearly 300 would-be vendors called on Green Zebra’s future home on Southeast Division — yet another one-time Safeway getting the Green Zebra makeover treatment.

For an update on the business side of Green Zebra, as well as progress on construction in Kenton, click here.

At Division, vendors converged all day for a chance to spend 15 minutes telling Sedlar, Green Zebra employees and associates about their businesses and products.

The competition is fierce. Sedlar expected about 100 participants.

Phyllis Abbott, owner of Oregon Kombucha Inc., said it was the first time she’d attended a vendor fair, but she welcomed the chance to meet Green Zebra and large distributors on hand to help startups.

Abbot sells her Portland-made kombucha kits to about 120 clients.

Green Zebra’s sustainable ethos enticed Charlie Wicker, owner of Trailhead Coffee Roasters, to pedal his bike-mounted coffee cart to the store, where he brewed coffee in the parking lot and made conversation with visitors.

Wicker called Green Zebra a natural ally for sustainably made products.

Trail Head pays above-fair trade prices for organic, sustainably grown beans. He conducts virtually all his business by bike and roasts at his nearly-secret cafe on East Burnside Street, the Accidental Café and Roaster.

Amanda Rhoads, owner of Scoop Handmade Ice Cream, wants to expand her wholesale market beyond the farmers markets and food trucks that form the bulk of her business. Green Zebra could be a perfect showcase for her new packaging idea — glass.

“The containers that are available to me are not compostable so I’m looking for alternatives,” she said. She’s unfazed by the added cost of using glass jars. “I want to try it.”

Upstart salsa maker Dancil Strickland was looking for validation for his all-fruit salsa concept. The eligible-to-retire technology worker has a business plan, recipes and price points, but is still scouting for a contract manufacturer. First, he wanted to test the concept with a bona fide buyer.

“I am hoping they’ll say they like it and to call them when I get a co-packer,” he said.

Chocolatier Jeremy Karp scored one of the day’s biggest coups when he landed in front of Sedlar herself.

Karp makes small batch confections under the name Batch PDX, and came ready to talk business.

He had proof of insurance and an impressive array of unmelted truffles based on childhood candy bars.

Sedlar asked if his ingredients were GMO free — Green Zebra aims to be as GMO-free as possible.

Karp answered "yes" for the chocolate, cream and butter, but was unclear on the European glucose. Sedlar was satisfied. GMOs are largely banned in Europe, she noted.

Taking small bites from several of Karp’s wares, she gave them a warm thumbs up.

“This is delicious. I want to sell them in my stores,” she said. "We'll call you in a couple of weeks."

Portland Business Journal is a KATU News partner.

More from our partner: Q&A with Green Zebra's Lisa Sedlar