The founder of an Oregon chain of healthy convenience stores plans to saturate the West Coast in the next five years. But prepare yourself. Green Zebra Grocery, gearing up to observe Portland’s first Kombucha Day, isn’t your granddaddy’s quickie mart.
If you crave a pack of Camels, a lottery ticket or a 40-ounce bottle of Olde English 800, you can blow off Green Zebra. But if you require a custom-built vegan sandwich, free-range chicken sausage, radish kimchi, organic beer or a half-gallon growler of CBD-infused sparkling lemon water, welcome home.
“We’re not trying to be the food police,” Green Zebra founder Lisa Sedlar said. “But if healthy is your thing, we got it.”
Sedlar hopes to help redefine the nature of convenience stores, a $237-billion industry, with a chain of small shops that improve the health of neighborhoods.
The 52-year-old entrepreneur stepped down as chief executive of independent grocer New Seasons Market in 2012 to launch Green Zebra Grocery. She has built three stores in the Portland area, with another under construction. Sedlar says she’s on pace to build two dozen locations from San Diego to Seattle by 2023, but her goal is 100.
She has raised nearly $9 million for the expansion from investors, loans and $400,000 of her own money. “This includes all of my savings, my cashed-in 401(k) and the loose change in my sofa cushions,” she said.
Sedlar is banking on market research, which shows Americans desire healthier provisions, and a trend that shows they will pop in more often to buy them — especially if they are from the millennial generation…