Q&A with Green Zebra's Lisa Sedlar

By: Wendy Culverwell - Sep 06, 2013
Source: Portland Business Journal
The Business Journal caught up with Sedlar, founder and CEO, this week at the Southeast Division location, when the company held a vendor fair that attracted nearly 300 would-be partners eager to see their products on Green Zebra’s shelves.

Portland Business Journal: What products will Green Zebra stock?

Sedlar: We want products that taste good. That’s the first thing. We want food that’s sustainably produced and manufactured and fairly priced. Our goal is to strengthen the regional food economy.

PBJ: You just asked a chocolate supplier about discounts for major event orders, say, a 5,000-truffle order at Valentine’s Day. Then you said you wouldn’t take the small discount if it left him too thin to recover his costs. What is your thinking for not taking the price cut?

Sedlar: That’s part of strengthening the food economy. If he doesn’t make enough money to survive, then he’s not there any more.

PBJ: How is your capital raising going?

Sedlar: We have raised $3 million, including an $800,000 loan from Craft3, a nonprofit community development lender. Our investors are friends and family. Brad Zenger of Pivotal Investment Funds is an investor. He’s on our board and is our capital guy. We have also signed up with CircleUp, a crowd funding source for accredited investors. We have $600,000 to go, which we expect to complete before Kenton opens. (Editor's note: The raise has not officially closed.)

PBJ: What will Green Zebra's Kenton store look like?

Sedlar: It's about 6,000 square feet, two or three times larger than a traditional convenience store. We will have 3,000 to 5,000 items. It’s carefully curated but you can do all your grocery shopping there. The layout has three cashiers, a pastry/coffee/juice bar, a huge produce section, cold items, an eight-door freezer, 19 feet of wine, 12 feet of bulk items, 12 feet of grab-and-go items, 12 feet of bulk items, six feet of seafood and eight feet of meat. I love the idea of redefining a convenience store.

PBJ: 19 feet of wine? Really?

Sedlar: We think that’s going to be a big draw for us.

PBJ: How many employees will you have at Kenton?

Sedlar: About 40. By the time we open the Division and Woodstock stores in 2014, Green Zebra will have about 130 employees.

PBJ: What is your long-term vision?

Sedlar: The plan is to grow. We see a natural affiliation with airports and college campuses. We could go to Seattle. We think there’s pent-up demand for a store that sells mostly-local food.

Click through the gallery above for some photographs from behind the scenes at Green Zebra's under-construction Kenton location.

Wendy Culverwell covers real estate, retail and hospitality.