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UPDATE | New grocery store coming to South End

There’s a big, empty hole at Bayview Center and Tyler Myers plans to do something about it.

In a joint effort between The Myers Group and the Goosefoot Community Fund sometime this summer, Myers will open a new grocery store in the 21,000-square-foot space recently vacated by Casey’s Red Apple market.

And maybe the move shows — despite the old phrase — you can go home again.

Myers’ family owned and operated the market from 1978 to 1999. Since then, though the family-run operation has expanded to the mainland, its corporate offices remain in Clinton.

Myers, an alumni of Langley High School Class of 1980, said the store will feature a deli, bakery and café seating area. The produce department will be expanded with a wide selection of organic and locally-grown items.

The business model is highly unusual. Goosefoot will provide $2 million to finance all building renovations, store inventory and daily operating expenses, said Goosefoot chief executive officer Chis Hurley.

A new corporation will be formed between Goosefoot and the Myers Group; essentially, Myers is being hired by the nonprofit to run the store and all money accrued will be folded back into financing other projects, such as affordable housing.

Hurley said that if she had to pick the perfect time to start a business concern, this wouldn’t be it.

“But reality intruded. The fact is, we can’t afford the luxury of a business center without a strong anchor,” she explained. “Even as a nonprofit, we’re subject to the same financial pressures as everyone else.”

She added that Goosefoot will be offering improved landscaping, safer parking, better lighting and signage and more energy-efficient windows and heating plant.

“We either had to keep the existing grocery or find something better,” she added. “We searched for a creative solution and believe this is it.”

Hurley said she had been having intermittent discussions with Myers and others for about two years. When a rental agreement between Goosefoot and Red Apple’s Jim Springer couldn’t be reached this spring, Springer closed Casey’s to concentrate on the store at Ken’s Korner.

The Myers Group currently owns and operates markets on Camano Island, and in Ocean Shores, Snoqualmie and downtown Seattle. Myers said each is tailored to its specific location.

“Each store and its customers are different,” Myers said. “I know what’s missing here on South Whidbey and we have a strategy that will work here.”

He added that the goals are to build a better shopping center that concentrates on value and provide a strong anchor for the other businesses at the site.

“How we conduct our business dovetails perfectly with Goosefoot’s mission to create a sense of place and community,” he said.

After getting a bachelor’s degree in economics from Western Washington University, Myers worked in a variety of management positions in the food industry before taking over as president of the family business. He lives in Seattle with his wife and daughter.

But he knows Whidbey.

“In fact the core of our corporate staff lives on the island and I feel confident we know and understand the market,” he said.

Not surprisingly, reaction from the businesses flanking the empty store was positive.

“It can’t be anything but a good thing for us and for the neighborhood,” said Sebo’s Hardware owner Frank Parra.

At the Clover Patch Cafe, owner Neil Colburn said he’s known the Myers family for 25 years.

“I have a lot of respect for their expertise,” he said. “Goosefoot’s continued presence here is good for the merchants and for all of South Whidbey. This is a terrific location and a well-run grocery store should draw folks in.”

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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