Hood River News building

The former Hood River News building, pictured in late March 2021, will house Natural Grocers' 15th location in Oregon. 

Officials of Natural Grocers, based in Lakewood, Colo., have confirmed that the company plans to open its 15th Oregon store in downtown Hood River this summer.

The location will be 419 State St., the former Hood River News building.

Indications that something was happening with the long-vacant building at Sixth and State, across from Hood River County Library, became evident in recent weeks as the parking lot lights, long dormant, have been fully illuminated, and the company began placing employment ads on social media.

Pamela Lipschitz of Natural Grocers said the store is likely to open in July or August, updating an earlier statement on the timing of the opening.

The building, owned by Eagle Newspapers, of Salem, has two current tenants: A Kidz Zone Dental and Amerititle. The section of the building that housed the newspaper office and Columbia Gorge press has been vacant since August 2020. It was a year ago this week that the Hood River News ceased publication and was reconstituted as Columbia Gorge News. The newspaper’s offices were moved from the State Street building in August 2020 to its current location on E. Portway.

A grocery returning to the State Street site returns the building to its original purpose: It was built as a Safeway market in the 1950s and renovated for the newspaper and print operation by Eagle in 1995.

Lipschitz said the Hood River store will have 21 open positions, ranging from experienced store management to entry level crew.

Store offerings include fresh, 100 percent organic produce, and humanely and sustainably raised meats, free-range eggs, pasture-based dairy, non-GMO prepackaged bulk goods, and organic and natural groceries, dietary supplements, body care, and household essentials.

Serving customers with a wide range of natural and organic options since 1955, Natural Grocers offers what Lipschitz called “a unique grocery shopping experience,” including neighborhood outreach through free nutrition education, Natural Grocers has stores in Gresham and Portland, Bend, and nine other locations in Oregon.